Student organ soloist

"Learn by Doing isn't just a philosophy at Cal Poly; it's a way of life in the Music Department."
—Timothy McLellan, (Music, '94) educator

Learn by Doing in Music

Soloist with symphony
Solo performance with the Cal Poly Symphony

An Undergraduate Focus

As an undergraduate, you will have access to a full range of opportunities from the very first day. Since the music major has an undergraduate focus, you are not competing with graduate students, and courses are not taught by teaching assistants.

This means you and your peers can audition for solos, have your compositions performed, conduct large ensembles in performance, teach a class and more. The faculty will help you build the skills you need for the direction you choose.

Cover of student's EP


Your Capstone Project

In your last year, you will create a unique capstone project that ties together what you have learned. Your project can be a recital, a lecture-recital, a research paper, a composition, a recording, a sound library, or another kind of project that matches your interests and experience.

Here are some recent projects completed by our majors:


  • Davis Zamboanga:“Dar Luz” for Eight Trombones
  • Austin Tinkess: “Edge of the World” (video game demo track) and “Distant Landscapes” (TV series: main title cue)
  • Noah Scanlan: “Sketches” for Piano Quintet and “Ocean Scenes” for orchestra


  • Molly Gooch: The Voice Needs Exercise: Effective Vocal Warm-Ups for Improving Specific Skills
  • Hannah Buckingham: Making Melodies: Music Fundamentals Workshops


  • Nicolai Borst: Exploring the JRPG Music Aesthetic: An Analysis of Yoko Shimomura’s Music
  • Samuel Nelson: The Hurdy-gurdy: From Pageantry to Peasantry (lecture-recital)
  • Layla Parvis: Sam Plays it Again: The Film Music Functions of Casablanca
  • Brandon Webb: Rhythm and Percussion in Eastern Arab Art Music


  • Kathryn Loomis: Senior Vocal Recital
  • Elle Larson: Senior Oboe Recital
  • Timothy Shanks and Titus Shanks: Joint Senior Recital (Violin and Cello)
  • Marianna Pallas: Senior Horn Recital
  • Timothy Compton: Senior Percussion Recital


  • Kevin Glass: Audynus: The MIDI Control Keyboard
  • Ryan Waczek: Crotale Sample Library
  • Anthony Pultz: University Jazz Band I CD


  • Emily Gaut: Music and Alzheimer’s Disease: An Assessment of Music Therapy as an Effective Medical Intervention

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