photo of opened books of sheet music and a pair of headphones on a desktop


Reed’s music department engages musicians and scholars through a wide range of courses and performance opportunities as well as private instrumental and vocal lessons. More than half of all Reed students take part in the performing arts, and the music department encourages both majors and nonmajors to take advantage of music programs and courses.

Recent courses have included Latin American Popular Music; Race, Sexuality, and Empire on the Operatic Stage; Music and Politics; and The Blues: Forms, Styles, Meanings. Students may receive private instruction in many different instruments, from the accordion or the bassoon to the oud or the sitar.

Majors are required to complete courses in music theory, music history, and ethnomusicology.

Students majoring in music are also expected to participate in performance activities; therefore, fees for private instruction in one instrument or voice are waived for junior and senior music majors. Performance activities include orchestra, chorus, Collegium Musicum singers, jazz ensemble, and chamber music.

The department prepares students to complete a senior thesis—a requirement for all senior Reed students—in music history or analysis, ethnomusicological research, or composition.

“The music department is really small, and as a result I’ve gotten to know the music faculty and staff really well. I always feel like there’s someone whom I can reach out to, and because the music department manages so many things—from private lessons to ensembles to classes—there’s always something new to explore and learn.” STASIA HANSEN ’17

Professor profile

Professor Mark Burford

19th Century Austro-German Concert Music, 20th Century African American Popular Music
A photo of Professor Mark Burford

Professor Mark Burford is a music historian with expertise in nineteenth-century Austro-German concert music and twentieth-century African American popular music. His work on European art music and popular music of the Americas has appeared in the Journal of Musicology, 19th-Century Music, Current Musicology, Notes, and Musical Quarterly. His current research focuses on the circulation and reception of black gospel singing within U.S. popular culture during the 1950s and early 1960s.

Before coming to Reed in 2007, Mark taught at the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall, where he was responsible for secondary and middle school education programs. He has also taught Western classical music and American vernacular music at Columbia University and City College of New York.

Download Music Flyer as a PDF

Tango at Reed College

Reed College hosts North America’s leading tango workshops for musicians, providing the immersive learning environment needed to play, arrange, compose, improvise, and teach tango music. The program attracts participants from throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, and beyond who are eager to learn, explore, and experiment with tango music in meaningful ways.


The Performing Arts Building houses the music, dance, and theatre departments. The building includes the following facilities:

  • The practice room suite boasts 14 soundproofed practice rooms containing 10 grand pianos, 3 studio uprights, 2 harpsichords, and a percussion room. All students enrolled in a music class have access to practice rooms 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • The music rehearsal hall seats 120 for lectures, master classes, and film screenings. Large ensembles use this room for rehearsal.
  • The performing arts resource center (PARC) houses music scores and media. Students come to the PARC to study and use computer workrooms for composition.

Rothchild Summer Stipend for Music Study

The music department sponsors two stipends of up to $1,500 for student music study during the summer. Past projects include bass lessons with Orin O’Brien of the New York Philharmonic, bagpipe study and performance at Highland festivals, and attendance at Music at Albignac, Paul Roberts’ Piano Summer School at La Bastide d’Albignac in southwest France.

Private Music Instruction

  • We have world-class instructors with training from top institutions such as the Juilliard School and the Curtis Institute.
  • Our instructors are performers with the nation’s top symphonies in Boston, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles.
  • Locally, our instructors are active performers in the rich and diverse Portland music scene, including the Oregon Symphony, the Portland Opera, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Third Angle New Music, Fear No Music, and Chamber Music Northwest.
  • Our students have opportunities to flourish as performers in our programs: solo with the orchestra, perform in our thriving Friday at Four performance series, or join our newly formed Bluegrass (American Roots Music Ensemble) band.

What Do Alumni Do?

Audio Visual Technician
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI)
Sebastian Bishop ’21

Australian Red Cross
Sida Cheng ’10

Assistant Professor of Media Arts, Film, Animation
University of the Arts
Chris Magee ’90

Orchestra Librarian
The Women’s Philharmonic
Daria D’Andrea ’82

Radio Host/Producer
Barry Hansen ’63