Frequently Asked Questions


What music scholarships are available at Luther?

The Weston Noble Music Scholarship, the All-State Music Scholarship, and the Lutheran Summer Music Scholarship are all available to you as an incoming Luther College musician, regardless of your major. More information about each of these scholarships can be found on our Music Scholarships webpage.

In addition, there are a variety of endowed scholarships awarded to upper class music majors who meet the eligibility conditions specified for each scholarship. Recipients of these scholarships are selected by the music faculty and the student financial aid office.

Do you have to be a music major to get a music scholarship?

No! Music scholarships are available to you if you are interested in participating in music at Luther College, regardless of your major. While at Luther on a music scholarship, you must be enrolled in applied lessons and a large music ensemble on your awarded instrument in order to receive the scholarship funds. Pianists and organists who do not participate in an ensemble have other options for fulfilling their ensemble requirement through collaborative piano opportunities.

Can you receive music scholarships for multiple instruments?

You can audition for the Weston Noble Music Scholarship on up to two instruments, but you may only accept a scholarship award on one instrument.

If you audition on two instruments during your senior year of high school, you may change your scholarship award from one instrument to another while studying at Luther College. This change can only be made once, and it can only be done if both scholarship auditions were completed before enrolling at Luther College.

Are music scholarships stackable with other types of scholarships?

Music scholarships are stackable with other awards, grants, and academic scholarships. You may only accept one Luther talent-based scholarship award however. Dance, theatre, and music scholarships are not able to be stacked with each other.

Scholarship Auditions

Are live auditions preferred?

In a typical year, yes. Live auditions are strongly preferred. Luther auditions are structured like a mini lesson and having an in-person interaction with our music faculty is highly valuable. On-campus auditions also give you a chance to see our facilities!

Due to COVID-19, however, music scholarship auditions have had to be reimagined. You are able to request a scholarship audition in person if you are individually visiting campus on a weekday. Otherwise, you are able to audition through a virtual appointment with a faculty member. Either option is welcome!

If I audition before a certain date, will I have a better chance of getting more scholarship money?

No. Your audition is based on your talent and potential as a student musician. Just make sure that you apply and audition before the early March deadline.

How do I choose my audition repertoire?

See our Scholarship Auditions Requirements webpage. Keep in mind your selections should demonstrate your musicianship, tone quality, articulation and technical ability. We want you to prepare material that represents you at your musical best!

Will I be auditioning on stage in front of a committee?

Auditions typically happen in a faculty’s studio with one faculty member present. The faculty member will listen and work with you to get to know you better as a musician and student. Auditioning is a great way to begin to feel comfortable with the wonderful faculty we have in our Music Department.

During Your Scholarship Audition

Do I need to bring an accompanist?

Please refer to each individual instrument requirement on the Scholarship Auditions Requirements webpage.

For instrumentalists, accompaniment is never required, however it is preferred for some instruments. Accompaniment will not be provided for instrumentalists.

For vocalists, students do not need to bring an accompanist to the audition. There will be a pianist for the audition (typically the faculty member hearing the audition), though there will not be a rehearsal with the pianist prior to the audition. Please bring a copy of the music (in the key performed) for your accompanist.

As an instrumentalist, do I need to bring an extra copy of my music?

No, as you are not performing for a panel of faculty. Since only one faculty member will be present, they can refer to the music that you are using for your scholarship audition.

Will my scholarship audition be used for an ensemble placement audition?

No. First-year auditions for ensemble placement happen in the fall after you arrive on campus.

Are there warm-up spaces available to me before my audition?

A practice room will be reserved for you before your audition. If you are a percussionist or an organist, we will make arrangements for you to have access to appropriate facilities and instruments. In addition, there are other larger instruments that the music department can make arrangements for you to use both for your warm-up and audition. (double bass, harp, tuba, etc.) Please include this request on your scholarship audition request form or notify Jana Vorvick.

When will I hear back about my scholarship audition results?

If your talent audition occurs AFTER acceptance, you will receive a letter notification in the mail (approximately 2 weeks after your audition date).

If your talent audition occurs BEFORE acceptance, your audition results will be sent approximately two weeks after receipt of all admission materials.

Talent scholarship awards (music, theatre, dance) are also included in financial aid offers. If your audition is completed before your financial aid award offer is sent, your scholarship award will be included in your offer. If your audition is not completed before your financial aid offer is sent, your offer will be updated with this information after your audition.

If your admission materials have been submitted, it has been more than three weeks since your audition and you have not received notification, please contact Jana Vorvick for assistance.


What sets the Luther music experience apart from other ELCA music programs?

All of the ELCA(Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) programs have many similarities to them. Luther provides a tremendous sense of community. Musicians from all areas have opportunities for collaboration and connection. Because of the number of Luther ensembles, students are provided numerous opportunities; symphony orchestras, chamber orchestras, jazz ensembles, concert bands, mixed choirs, and treble/bass ensembles. The depth of the ensembles is undeniable. All five of the choral ensembles have sung at a national or regional American Choral Directors Association convention, the Symphony Orchestra participates in a residency in Vienna, the Jazz Orchestra has an established touring connection with Brazil, and the Concert Band has been selected to play at number of Iowa Bandmasters Association conferences.

What classes do you take as a music major?

Our Requirements and Courses page lays out the required classes needed for music majors. You can also visit our Music Education Advising page to see the course schedule for music education majors.

What can I do with a music major after graduation?

The possibilities are endless. Many music majors who graduate from Luther pursue careers in music education, music performance, conducting, and composition. Additionally, Luther College has been proud to watch their alumni excel in fields such as music therapy, church music, librarianship, instrument repair, arts administration, radio, and television.

To learn more about life after Luther, visit our Careers page. To read stories about our successful alumni, visit our Alumni Profiles page.

What is the success rate of students who study music?

Luther College graduates embark on many different paths when they leave campus, but what is clear is that the vast majority of music majors at Luther College go on to succeed in their endeavors. Many of them enter a career field, many pursue further education, and some of them even pursue volunteer work as their initial career path.

Whatever you choose to pursue after college, we know that your Luther College degree will be invaluable to you. To learn more about the success of our recent music alumni, visit our Recent Grad Statistics page.


How many ensembles are there at Luther?

At Luther, there are five choirs, three orchestras, two bands, and two jazz bands. You can participate in multiple ensembles, and many students do! Music majors and anyone on a music scholarship must enroll in one of these large ensembles each semester to fulfill their ensemble requirement.

In addition to the large ensembles, there are a variety of smaller faculty-led ensembles and student-led ensembles that you can choose to participate in. These include a cappella groups, brass ensembles, chamber ensembles, jazz combos, Luther Ringers, pep band, and more. Discover what ensembles you want to be a part of by visiting our Ensembles webpage.

What are ensemble auditions like and when are they held?

Instrumental and first-year choir auditions happen in the first few days of fall semester when students are back on campus. Auditions for other choral ensembles occur at the end of spring semester for the upcoming year. Audition requirements vary by each ensemble area, but you will know what the required audition materials are at least a few weeks in advance of auditions.

Ensemble auditions help ensure that you are placed in the ensemble that is the best fit for your current skill level, and they ensure that each ensemble’s needs are fulfilled for balance and seating purposes. There is a place for you within our ensembles at Luther College!

What is the ensemble rehearsal schedule like?

In a typical year, ensembles rehearse in the afternoons M-F, anytime between 1:30 pm to 6:00 pm. Of course, there are many different rehearsal schedules depending on what ensembles you participate in.

Because of COVID-19, our class schedule is changed to accommodate larger classroom spaces and physical distancing requirements. Due to this, ensembles currently rehearse in the evenings anytime between 4:00 pm to 9:45 pm.

Do you have to be a music major to participate in an ensemble?

There is a seat in every ensemble available for you whether you are a music major or not! None of our ensembles are designated for only music majors. Rather, placement is determined by your ensemble audition.

Can you be in both an instrumental and a choral ensemble?

Absolutely! Many people participate in both an instrumental and choral ensemble. Many students also participate in multiple instrumental ensembles.

Can I still be in an ensemble if I don’t read music?

Because our instrumental ensembles require a level of proficiency on an instrument, music comprehension is necessary. However, the choral ensembles welcome singers of all ability levels and music comprehension levels.

What are ensemble tours?

There are 6 touring ensembles at Luther College, providing opportunities for students to take their repertoire on the road and perform it for a variety of audiences. Ensemble tours are an extremely enriching experience for students in a variety of ways. Touring provides a bonding experience for students as they take part in the deep and fun traditions with their peers. Additionally, touring allows you to see different parts of our country and the world, and to connect with the people who live in the places that you visit on tour. Academically, touring challenges an ensemble to learn a large program, and it allows the ensemble the opportunity to perform the program multiple times, learning from each performance they give. Some of your best memories will be made on ensemble tours at Luther!

Visit our Ensemble Tours webpage to learn more and to view our current touring schedule.


What is the significance of a liberal arts education?

A liberal arts college, as opposed to a professional, vocational, or technical school, focuses on developing whole persons through an education in the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. By asking students to learn in many disciplines, a liberal arts education produces graduates who are aware, perceptive, critical, and creative, and it gives you the tools you need to thrive in an ever-changing world. Learn more about the value of a liberal arts education at Luther College.

What performance opportunities are available to a Luther student?

At Luther, you have a wide range of large-scale performance opportunities available to you, ranging from domestic and international ensemble tours to on-campus ensemble concerts to the annual Christmas at Luther performance. Other opportunities include an annual full-staged opera production, the biennial oratorio, and Luther College chapel performances. Additionally, you can participate and perform in faculty-coached chamber groups, student-led ensembles and more. All music majors give a junior degree recital of either 30 or 60 minutes in length to showcase their progress and accomplishment as a music major at Luther College.

What music work study opportunities are available to a Luther music student?

The work study program lets you explore career paths, build solid work references, and earn money towards tuition or living expenses. It’s no surprise that nearly three-quarters of Luther students choose to participate in work study each year. There are a wide variety of work study positions available on campus, and there are even some work study positions that are specific to music.

Work study positions available in music include music office assistants, piano maintenance assistants, recital technicians, music librarians, and ensemble conductor assistants. There are also work study positions available in the music marketing office to assist with Christmas at Luther, Dorian festivals, social media, music licensing and music tours. Lastly, there are work study positions available in the Admissions office as an assistant to the Coordinator for Music Recruitment.

Dr. Mike Smith teaching a trombone lesson to a student.

A student working with Dr. Mike Smith.

A double bassist in Symphony Orchestra

Double bass player in the Symphony Orchestra.

Cathedral Choir recording in the Center for Faith and Life for Christmas at Luther.

The Cathedral Choir under the direction of Dr. Mark Potvin.

The Jazz Orchestra performing in Marty's in 2019.

Jazz Orchestra trumpet players during a Jazz concert at Marty's.

Scene from Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretell from the 2019 Fall Opera Scenes performance.

Students performing in the annual Fall Opera Scenes.

Heather Armstrong teaching an oboe lesson.

Dr. Heather Armstrong working with an oboe student.