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"I was in an interview with Ubisoft to work as a composer there, and the test they gave me was so second nature because it was what I'd learned in my music classes." —Brandon Rolle (Music and Political Science, '10), composer

Private composition lesson

Develop Essential Skills

As a music major, you will develop fundamental skills in theory and musicianship through our core curriculum. As a rising composer, you will expand your skill set through a wide variety of hands-on electives, such as orchestration, sound design, jazz theory, counterpoint, conducting and more.

You will also gain invaluable performance experience at Cal Poly. Besides taking lessons in voice or an instrument, you will be required to audition for any of the Music Department’s large ensembles, from choirs, bands and orchestras to the Arab Music Ensemble.


Session with composer Michael Thurber

Interact with Other Composers

At Cal Poly, you will meet notable composers who visit, present their work, discuss their craft and give feedback on student compositions. Recent guests, virtual and in-person, include Eric Whitacre, Julie Giroux, Dale Trumbore, Ola Gjielo, Mutsuhito Ogino, and Jonathan Manness. You will also interact with your peers and exchange ideas through the student-run Composition Club.





Instructor and student looking at a music score

Hear Your Work Performed

Our performing ensembles regularly hold reading and recording sessions of student compositions. Through these, you can hear your work, get feedback from performers and build your portfolio. You can also submit your work for public performance by your peers, small groups or large ensembles. Ensemble directors choose exceptional student compositions for performance at Cal Poly concerts. 




A Career in Composition 

Our graduates are equipped to succeed in graduate programs and in industry as composers and arrangers.

Brandon Rolle

Brandon J. Rolle (Music, '10)

Artistic director and head of composition, Impulse New Music Festival


Ryan Waczek (Music, '14)

Singer-songwriter, Composer, Music Educator
Indie Music Academy


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Ryan Putt (Music, '06)

Educator, arranger, composer
Former staff arranger, U.S. Navy Fleet Bands
Assistant Band Director, Fort Worth Independent School District