Music, Theater, and Performance are vital at COA. There are multiple courses in these areas and student-led dramatic productions almost every term. COA’s choir and orchestra each meet weekly and perform at least twice a year, and there are also student-led bands and ensembles. Students perform music and spoken word at regular open mics and our yearly talent show, The Fandango.

Music and Performance at COA are about practical action, hard work, and collaboration. The process of bringing a performance or concert together necessitates cooperation. There is no choice but for a group to come together, overcome challenges, and make the performance happen.

College students spend a lot of time looking inward, learning about themselves, and thinking about their place in the world. (Non-college students spend a lot of time doing this, too.) But introspection can only take you so far; in our experience you can get stuck there. Music and performance oblige you to go in the other direction: to share your strongest passions or deepest uncertainties. In person. There is both immediacy and physicality to performance that do not exist in even the most well-crafted poem or most creative scientific paper.

Performance broadens horizons and deepens empathy. Actors must not only understand someone else’s point of view, but embody it. When musicians perform a Bach cantata, a John Coltrane composition, or a Dar Williams song, they connect themselves to those artists and the places and contexts in which they lived. 

COA takes a democratic approach to theater. Drama is not about the biggest stage or the most expensive costumes; performance is not a gift from the educated few to the uneducated masses. We believe drama—and all art, for that matter—should be accessible to all. At COA we’ll prepare you to create performances using whatever you have, in real time, under pressure and constraints. Your tools are your body, your voice, and your will. Everything else is extra.


  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><p><strong>Reminder</strong>: ‘Areas of Study’ aren’t the only way to think about courses.  Browse and explore <a href="">here</a>.</p></div>
  • <div class="lw_blurbs_body"><p><strong>Reminder</strong>: Areas of Study at COA aren’t majors or formal concentrations. All COA students design their own <a href="/academics/human-ecology-degree/">major in human ecology</a> and are free to chart their own path. Your major is defined by you, not us.</p></div>