Discover your future…one note at a time.

Department of Music

As you walk through the Otterbein University Department of Music, you’ll notice that it’s alive with music, with laughter, with students in the lounge, with professors talking to students. Whether it be from our talented students, our actively practicing faculty and staff, or from a guest ensemble, there is always music playing at Otterbein.

2022-2023 Audition Dates:

  • Saturday, December 10, 2022
  • Saturday, January 14, 2023
  • Tuesday, February 21, 2023
  • Saturday, February 25, 2023 (Virtual auditions via Acceptd)
  • Saturday, March 18, 2023

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Programs of Study in Music

Music Education Showcase


Music Education

The Bachelor of Music Education degree at Otterbein is a four-year degree with K-12 licensure in all musical areas. The curriculum provides in-school placements in each year of study, and a full array of methods courses including guitar and ukulele methods.​

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Bm Performance



The Bachelor of Music in Performance Degree puts primary emphasis on the skills, concepts, and sensitivities essential to the life of the performing musician. The Bachelor of Music curriculum requires intensive energy, preparation and dedication to the applied music performance area.

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B.F.A in Musical Theatre


Musical Theatre

Our interdisciplinary BFA combines courses in Acting, Voice, Dance, Movement, and Music. Musical Theatre majors audition for all productions including plays, musicals, dance concerts, advanced directing projects, and workshops. A senior showcase for industry professionals is produced annually in New York City.

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Music Theory Composition


Music Theory & Composition​

The Music Theory & Composition concentration is the perfect program for composers seeking to study music theory and composition in depth while also gaining a firm grounding in musicianship and performance within a liberal arts framework.​

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Music History


Music History & Literature​

The Music History & Literature concentration provides students the opportunity to explore the scholarly aspects of music study. The exploration of music through scholarship, writing and research has many career outcomes and is well suited to liberal arts studies.​

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Otterbein Marching Band


Music Minor

Our music minor is a great way to nurture your passion for music while pursuing a different major. It is available to any student on campus, and encompasses basic experiences in theory, applied instruction, history, ensembles, and electives. Non-music majors may audition to study in any applied area within the department and may take several music courses if a pre-requisite pattern is followed.

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Student, Faculty, and Alumni Spotlights


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Otterbein has given me the support and resources for me to not only grow as an individual, but to prepare me to be the best future educator I can be.

Julia Jablonski ’22

Bachelor of Music Education


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The Otterbein Department of Music is a place of opportunity in every sense. It is a strong community among students, faculty, and alumni where personal relationships are coveted. Our world-class faculty members are incredibly supportive and show a great desire to see every student succeed!

Alec Arnett ’22

Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance and Bachelor of Arts in Music History & Literature


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Otterbein has given me the best preparation for becoming a music educator that I could have ever imagined! Between giving us hundreds of hours teaching in real classrooms starting freshmen year and the extremely talented and esteemed music faculty, I couldn’t have asked for more!

MK Schloss ’22

Bachelor of Music Education


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I came into Otterbein, for lack of a better word, terrified and leaving behind my entire support system. But Otterbein had my back. The music faculty were – and still are – amazing and so, so kind and welcoming. It’s been an amazing and fun couple of years.

Isabelle Lindsey ’23

Bachelor of Arts in Music and Bachelor of Arts in Theatre double major


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Otterbein has allowed me to pursue my passions in music performance, offering a variety of ensembles, performance opportunities, and a close-knit environment where I get to work side by side with professionals who are willing to make the effort to help prepare you for future success in your career outside of Otterbein.

Matthew Boles ’23

Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance

After a year of mostly online performances, we are roaring back to life with a full slate of in-person public performances: ensembles, recitals and exciting guest artists.
View our concert calendar >

Guest artists, like singer Daniel Neer (pictured), work one-on-one with our students in master classes. They present recitals with exciting repertoire, including world premieres of compositions by faculty and students.

Neer Masterclass


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The most meaningful, hands-on experiences I had were with the partnerships with local schools, travelling to share the love of music, and the encouragement to pursue my own opportunities.​

Jared Joseph ’13

Bachelor of Arts in Music Education

Hear more about Jared’s experiences >


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One of the most meaningful experiences at Otterbein was getting to perform a lot of my own compositions during my final recital.​

Ryan Loth ’15

Bachelor of Arts in Music, Theory and Composition Concentration

Hear more about Ryan’s Experiences >


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What stood out to me as a student was how much the faculty and staff go above and beyond to really help their students succeed.​

Miranda Martin-Hecker ’15

Miranda earned a Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) at the Ohio State University and is an adjunct faculty member in Otterbein’s Music Department

Hear more about Miranda’s Experiences >

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“Music Education brings together a person’s deep love of music with the passion to change young peoples’ lives. Having had a career in music education, I believe few things could be more fulfilling.​”

Dr. Jim Bates

Professor of Music and Music Education Program Director

Our students benefit from a supportive and caring faculty in a small campus setting and participate in a robust array of ensembles.​ Our active student OMEA chapter provides interaction with a variety of guest speakers and presentation topics.


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Inspired by the resilience of left-handed pianist Paul Wittgenstein in particular, Ross turned to this relatively unknown yet rich and rewarding genre after sustaining nerve injury in his right arm and hand.

Dr. Nicholas Ross

Professor and Department Chair, Music

Learn more about Dr. Ross >


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Professor Jennifer Bernard Merkowitz finds inspiration for her compositions in many different places, including recordings of frogs and toads in late summer, the pressures of professional and family life, and the need to give voice to the plight of refugees around the globe. Her piece Kate and the Beanstalk, for example, was commissioned by the Westerville Symphony for its “Tunes and Tales” program as a musical setting of the book by Mary Pope Osborne and Giselle Potter.

Dr. Jennifer Merkowitz

Professor of Music Theory and Composition

Listen to Dr. Merkowitz’s music, visit her website >


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Professor Michael Yonchak’s current writing projects include investigating the mallet percussion components of Frank Zappa’s Music, and exploring the compositional background of Jennifer Higdon’s Grammy-Award winning Percussion Concerto.

Dr. Michael Yonchak

Associate Professor, Music

Learn more about Dr. Yonchak >

Department Features and Student Opportunities

Piano Solo

Auditions and Talent Awards

We reward the talent, dedication, and academic achievement of our majors and non-majors alike with generous scholarships to support their studies in music. Auditions are available in person and online.

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Otterbein Opera

Performance Areas

We offer applied study for instruments, voice, and composition in classical, jazz, and popular styles. From early music to contemporary music, from string quartet to jazz combo, our ensemble experiences are open to all students.

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Otterbein Chorus

Music for Non-Majors

You don’t have to be a music major to participate in music at Otterbein. Non-majors may join any of the music ensembles or take private lessons and are eligible to audition for music participation awards.​

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Concert Calendar

Experience music at Otterbein with our rich and varied selection of guest artist recitals, performances by the Westerville Symphony as well as student ensemble concerts and recitals. All are free and open to the public.

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B.M. in Performance

Music YouTube Channel

Whether you like jazz, opera, chorals, or something else, check out the various playlists in our YouTube channel to watch recordings of recent performances featuring our students and faculty.​

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Music Facilities

The historic Battelle Fine Arts Building houses our concert hall, Riley Auditorium, along with state-of-the-art classrooms and labs. Quiet peaceful village we may be, but our facilities are warm, welcoming, and always buzzing with activity.

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Current Otterbein Students and Alumni Collaborate with Opera Project on June Production

News - July 12, 2022
The Opera Project Columbus is an educational opera company founded by Italian-born opera legend Maestro Alessandro Siciliani. This summer, seven Cardinal alumni, two current students, one incoming first-year student, and an Otterbein staff member all worked on “Don Pasquale.”  “Opera Project Columbus' mission is to educate younger generations on the world of opera,” said Hannah Pohlman ’18, production manager and stage manager. “This opportunity is wonderful for people early in their career as they continue to grow as artists, add…

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Otterbein Summer Chorale Keeps the Music Alive on Campus During Break

News - June 20, 2022
Each summer, the halls of the Battelle Fine Arts Center are filled with singing, even though many Otterbein students are home for summer break. It all comes from the Otterbein Summer Chorale (OSC). "The choir provides a musical outlet for the community during a time in which churches and schools are not doing as much programming, so we’re able to bring music to a wider community,” says Gayle Walker, director of choral activities. All Otterbein students and employees are invited…

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Teaching Award Winners 2022

Otterbein Teacher of the Year Jennifer Merkowitz Inspires Students to be Creative and Original 

News - May 12, 2022
Each year, Otterbein honors outstanding teachers for their impact on their students, colleagues, and the University. Professor of Music Jennifer Merkowitz, the recipient of this year’s Teacher of the Year Award, is described by colleagues and our selection committee as a “quiet but powerful presence” on campus who is “always focused on the students.” Merkowitz was recognized for striking a perfect balance between theory and application that leads her students to land jobs and careers they are passionate about.  …

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Our Institutional Partners

National Association of Schools of Music
National Association for Music Education
Ohio Music Education Association
Ohio Collegiate Music Education Association

Contact Us

30 South Grove St
Westerville, OH 43081

“Where words fail, music speaks.”

Hans Christian Andersen