Writing Music Program Notes

This guide is designed to assist students in the Department of Music in writing their program notes

Performing Arts Librarian

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Drew Beisswenger
University of Arkansas Libraries
365 N. McIlroy Ave.
Fayetteville, AR 72701
(479) 575-5510

Concert Reservation

To reserve the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall or other venue, first identify if your event location is available. You may access the calendar here.

After determining that the room is available, fill out this electronic form and submit.

If at any time you have any questions about recital procedures or reserving facilities, you may contact the music department at music@uark.edu.


Write Your Program Notes

Do you need a guide for your program notes?  Begin by downloading the template above.

Perform the research for your program notes using Writing Music Program Notes .

After completing your program, save the program in a Word document file and email to the Music Office .

REMEMBER, the Music Office does not print programs for concerts, so be sure to arrange to have your own copies made.



Fill Out Your Copyright Form

A signed copyright form is required in order to place materials in our archive (and to have them available online).  Print and sign this form. Obtain your instructor's signature as well.  Scan the signed form and email it to the Music Office.

Want a Recital Reception?

If you want a recital reception and do not want to organize this yourself, pick up a form at the Music Office and contact the Sigma Omicron chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota.




Music programs generally contain information specific to your recital or concert.  In addition, many writers of program notes also provide the audience with additional information specific to the compositions or the composers.

Basic program notes are required for all performances that are available through the University Libraries' archive.

What Information is in Program Notes

Basic Notes

  • Information about the concert and its performers (date, place, names, instruments or voice types)
  • Information on the works being performed - title (including opus or work numbers, keys, etc), movement names

Detailed Notes

Basic information + combinations of items below

  • Context of the work historically and in music history
  • Context of the work in relation to the composer's life and work
  • Description of the work
  • Descriptions of particular terms - such as "scherzo" or "langsam"
  • What will the work sound like or what should the listener listen for
  • Translations of the work 

Helpful Reference Books

The following books are available in the reference collection in Performing Arts and Media.  Each has helpful chapters on writing program notes.

Sample Programs on the Web