Music and Music Education

Music and Music Education

If you've got the music in you, Central College offers multiple opportunities to develop musicianship through coursework, lessons, ensembles and the department’s wide array of concerts. Central students can earn a degree in music or music education. The music major provides the foundation for further study or work in performance, scholarship, music business, church music and other professions. The music education major allows students to earn licensure to teach instrumental or vocal music in elementary and secondary schools. In addition, music students have access to courses in arts administration, entrepreneurship and not-for-profit management.

choral, instrumental or chamber ensembles
  • Students tour internationally with groups such as Symphonic Wind Ensemble and A Cappella Choir. Recent tours include Mexico, Brazil and Europe
  • Majors can study abroad and gain valuable professional experience through internships in the performing arts world

The Real World


Successful Careers

  • Director of choral activities, University of Texas of the Permian Basin, Odessa
  • Professional saxophonist, Long Beach, Calif.
  • Director of bands, Knoxville High School
  • Associate director of graduate admission, Roosevelt University School of Music, Chicago, Ill.
  • Grade 6-12 vocal music director, Van Meter Community Schools
  • Director of operations, Des Moines Symphony Orchestra
  • Manager, Celebrity and Entertainment Engagement at American Red Cross


  • Mu Gamma Pi (honorary music service organization)
  • 18 choral, instrumental or chamber ensembles

Central has a student group for you! Learn how you can get involved with groups and organizations at Central.

Central College student

Graduate Placement

  • The University of Iowa, saxophone, bassoon
  • Roosevelt University, Chicago College of Performing Arts, voice
  • Westminster Choir College of Rider University, Princeton, N.J., choral conducting
  • University of Kansas, clarinet
  • Kansas State University, percussion
  • Truman State University, music theory/trumpet


  • Development department, Philharmonia Orchestra, London, England
  • Des Moines Symphony
  • Des Moines Civic Music Association
  • BMG Records

Courses & Faculty

Music majors at Central gain a firm grounding in the theory, history and practice of Western art music, augmented by study of jazz, contemporary commercial music and various non-Western traditions. In addition, music education majors gain hours of hands-on experience in elementary and secondary schools through Central’s highly respected teaching licensure program.  

Both music and music education majors are strongly encouraged to take advantage of Central’s study abroad programs, some of which have excellent opportunities for music study and participation.

Learn more about music and music education in the course catalog.

Music and Music Education photo

Music and Music Education photo

Music and Music Education photo

Music and Music Education photo

Music and Music Education photo

Meet the faculty:
  • Claudia Anderson, D.M.A., Adjunct Faculty, interest areas include flute
  • Mark Babcock, B.A., M.M., M. Joan Kuyper Farver Endowed Chair in Music and Associate Professor of Music and Director of Choirs, interest areas include organ, music education and church music
  • Yoo-Jung Chang, M.M., Adjunct Instructor of Music, interest areas include cello
  • Steven Charlson, B.A., Adjunct Instructor of Music, interest areas include double bass
  • Stanley Dahl, B.M., M.M., Senior Lecturer of Music, interest areas include percussion, music technology, Caribbean music, Flying Pans Steel Band, Percussion Ensemble.
  • Kris De Wild, Adjunct Instructor of Music, interest areas include harp, choral accompanist
  • Cynthia Doggett, D.M.A., Associate Professor of Music, interest areas include clarinet, saxophone, music history, world music
  • Matt Driscoll, B.A., M.M., D.M.A., Adjunct Faculty, interest areas include low brass
  • Gabriel Espinosa, B.A., M.M., Associate Professor of Music, interest areas include jazz theory, jazz band techniques, improvisation, applied theory, jazz band, Vocal/Instrumental Combos
  • Paul Kovacovic, D.M.A., Assistant Professor Music, interest areas include piano, piano pedagogy, music literature
  • Mitchell Lutch, B.M., M.M., D.M.A., Associate Professor of Music & Director of Bands, interest areas include conducting, instrumental music education, Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Pep Band
  • Allison McGuire, M.M., Adjunct Instructor of Music, interest areas include piano
  • Susan Odem, B.M., M.M., Adjunct Faculty, interest areas include woodwind methods and oboe
  • Dennis Pedde, B.M., M.M., Adjunct Faculty, interest areas include trumpet, French horn
  • Anne Petrie, B.A., M.M., D.M.A., Professor of Music, interest areas include art song, opera and music of Central and Eastern Europe, especially Russia
  • Diane Phoenix-Neal, B.M., D.M.A., Visiting Assistant Professor of Music, interest areas include violin, viola, music theory, world music
  • Sarah Van Waardhuizen, B.A., M.M.E., Ph.D., Adjunct Faculty, interest areas include voice

The Central Difference


Central has 18 music ensembles accessible to all students regardless of major. Many of the groups tour domestically and internationally. View full information about ensembles here

  • A Cappella Choir
  • Chamber Singers
  • Vocal/Instrumental Jazz and Pop Combo
  • College-Community Chorus
  • Symphonic Wind Ensemble
  • Jazz Band
  • College-Community Orchestra
  • College-Community Band
  • Flying Pans Steel Drum Band
  • Pep Band
  • Brass Ensemble
  • Flute Choir
  • Handbell Choir
  • Clarinet Ensemble
  • Percussion Ensemble
  • Piano Ensemble
  • String Ensemble
  • Woodwind Ensemble

Music Awards

Central offers music awards of up to $2,000 available to students who have a passion for music. Awards are renewable for four years. Auditions for music awards are held in February, or earlier by arrangement with the admission office. More information on music awards here

Central Music Students


The Cox-Snow Music Center features a 200-seat recital hall and a rehearsal hall as well as classrooms, faculty studios, practice rooms and a keyboard lab. Douwstra Auditorium houses a 9-ft. Fazioli concert grand piano, and the Chapel houses a double-manual Flemish harpsichord, Kawai RX-6 piano and a Brunzema tracker-action organ. The Roe Center features the Fine Arts MIDI computer lab incorporating the latest in music notation software and sequencing programs. 

Study Abroad

Students are encouraged to study abroad with one of Central’s international programs to enhance their development as global citizens, or with partner programs in Chicago, Washington, D.C. or New York City. Learn more about Central’s study abroad programs.


World-renowned conductor to lead Central College ensemble

World-renowned conductor to lead Central College ensemble

Frank L. Battisti, world-renowned wind ensemble conductor and music educator, will be in residence at Central College Feb. 23 – March 1.

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Q&A with Young Artist winner James Skretta
Q&A with Young Artist winner James Skretta

Saxophonist James Skretta '09 shares about competition, self-criticism and the importance of music in this interview about his journey to musical success.

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Music for Life
Music for Life

Jean De Smidt ’70 has traveled the country playing and writing music since graduating from Central.

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Learn More

Want to find out more about music and music education at Central? Contact us to learn more about this major and our other strong academic programs. Visit campus to observe classes and experience The Central Difference firsthand.