Power of Music @ Eastern Michigan University

Music has been fundamental to the founding of the University, the growth of its students, and its connections to the community.



This Library Guide was created by a Historic Preservation graduate class including these students: 

Lindsay Dascola

Annie Gaston

Heather Lehman

Alicia Whitcome

Alexander Whydell 


The students would like to thank the following people. This exhibit would not have happened without them!

Thank you!

Patrick Barry, Jr.

Alexis Braun Marks

Debra Burke

Dr. Matthew Cook

Amber Davis

Dr. Debra Gombert

Larry Hutchinson

Matt Jones

Walter Kraft

Dr. Theresa Merrill

Luis Pena

Music Therapy Center

Music has influenced Eastern Michigan University since the beginning of the institution. One year after Michigan State Normal School began holding classes, music entered the curriculum. By the 1860s, vocal music courses were required for graduation. The students of the Normal School--teachers-in-training--learned how to incorporate music into their future classrooms. When the Conservatory of Music was established in 1881, it allowed students with a special interest in music to receive more advanced instruction.The Conservatory would eventually become the School of Music and Dance, which continues to give students opportunities for formal training. Today, EMU's School of Music offers programs in Music Education and the Bachelor of Music in Performance, the Bachelor of Arts in Music, and a Music Minor as well as the Master of Music (with several concentration options). These degrees are a far cry from the "vocal music" requirement of the Conservatory in 1877! 

Performance groups such as the choir, the orchestra, and various bands have long served to enhance EMU students' education and foster the presentation of self. Smaller, genre-specific groups like the Gospel Choir and the Madrigal Singers gave students a sense of pride and community and allowed them to reach out to people outside the university. Nearly all of Eastern's performance groups have traveled outside the state to perform, whether nationally or internationally.  

Not all musical activity at EMU has been performance-based. In 1975, Eastern became one of the first universities to offer a  Music Therapy program to its students (Bachelor of Music Therapy and the graduate certificate), becoming a national leader in music therapy. Incorporating music to meet people's emotional, social, and cognitive needs, EMU's Music Therapy program graduates fully understand the power of music to heal. 
WEMU (89.1 MHz), Eastern Michigan University's public broadcasting service, was founded in the 1960s. This radio station is an integral piece of Eastern's continued musical influence on its community. Though the station began as an outlet for EMU student musicians, it has since grown into popular public radio in southeast Michigan. WEMU plays jazz and blues from all periods, features up-and-coming artists, and is a National Public Radio affiliate. 
Music is important to Eastern Michigan University's students, both inside and outside the classroom. From learning how to teach musical technique and appreciation to learning how to apply music's therapeutic potential, Eastern's students have understood music's influence on others. From traveling performance groups to traveling radio waves, Eastern's musical impact has spread throughout its community and beyond. 
To learn more about the history of music at Eastern Michigan University, please explore the timeline below.