The Master of Music degree program with a conducting specialization is an advanced course of study for musicians who hold the bachelor’s degree and seek
advanced instruction in choral or orchestral and wind ensemble conducting. The program
features studies in literature, arrangement and interpretation with ensemble experience
designed to maximize podium time. Students study with a distinguished faculty of experienced
artists who mentor students towards an individual artistic voice and its expression
in the direction of an ensemble. Graduate teaching assistantship opportunities are
available to qualified students.
Graduate says students are encouraged to ‘dream
Rubén Darío Gómez grew up in Colombia where music played a big part of his childhood.
Now, a conductor, composer, pianist and music educator, the MTSU graduate says it
was his professors who encouraged him to “dream big,” leading him to go on to earn
his doctorate degree after earning his master’s in music, specializing in wind band
conducting. “This is a program where you can get what you want, depending on your
dreams and expectations, but also, they push your expectations at a higher level.
They make you dream big,” he said. Gómez said the experience at MTSU is like none
other. “The program provides a significant amount of podium time, but also you can
get other chances to conduct, depending on your initiatives and interest.” Gómez began
teaching at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville in 2020.
Time on podium sets MTSU's conducting program apart from others
Jeffrey Keever has been interested in conducting ever since he had the opportunity
to conduct the wind ensemble in elementary school. After meeting a professor in MTSU’s
conducting program while working on his Bachelor’s degree at Vanderbilt University,
Keever knew MTSU was the next step in his education journey. “This program allows
you to have a vast amount of conducting experience, paired with an intense study of
music history, music theory, score reading, conducting technique, solfege, rehearsal
techniques, and more. Though the program is intense, it is one that stands out when
compared to others in terms of conducting experience and knowledge,” he said. While
at MTSU, Keever was the head conductor of the Concert Orchestra and the assistant
conductor of MTSU’s Symphony and Chamber Orchestra. He plans to attend the Prague
Summer Nights Music Festival in Prague, Czech Republic, as a Conducting Apprentice
and the Rome Music Festival in Rome, Italy, as a Conducting Assistant after graduation.
MTSU College of Graduate Studies
MTSU | The University of Opportunities
Alumni from the School of Music teach thousands of students every day in private studios
and schools from kindergarten through university levels. MTSU graduates perform in
orchestras, military ensembles, and opera companies; appear in clubs and recording
studios with the famous and yet-to-be-known; compose music for Hollywood films and
commercial jingles; lead professional music organizations; work in the music industry;
serve as church musicians; and continually enrich the lives of others. Some continue
on to enter prestigious doctoral programs. A sample of potential professional pathways
for music master's students:
- Artistic director
- Band director/leader
- Choral/choir director
- Church musician/worship leader
- College professor/instructor
- General music teacher at elementary/middle schools
- Music educator
- Music theater director
- Musical director
- Orchestra librarian
- Studio musician
Employers of MTSU alumni include
- Bellevue Middle School
- Belmont University
- Cane Ridge High School
- Case Western Reserve University
- Chattanooga Symphony
- Cumberland University
- The Downtown Band
- Earl Klugh (Grammy winner)
- EMBRA Artists, LTD.
- Fairview Middle School
- Jeff Coffin (Grammy winner)
- Jonathan Fletcher Music
- Lipscomb University
- MEINL Percussion
- Middle Tennessee State University
- Murfreesboro City Schools
- Nashville Philharmonic Orchestra
- Nashville State Community College
- Northeast Mississippi Community College
- Old Center Elementary School, Nashville
- Onks Woodwind Specialist
- Siegel Middle School
- Trevecca Nazarene University
- University of Louisiana-Lafayette
- University of Northern Colorado
- Vine Street Christian Church, Nashville
The School of Music’s Masters of Music Degree is offered with seven graduate specializations:
A minor in Music is offered at the graduate level.
- hold (or be about to receive) an undergraduate degree in music;
- have an acceptable grade point average in all college work taken (at least 3.0);
- depending on specialization, either do an audition or submit an audition audio or
video-recording; submit scores and recordings of compositions; submit written samples
of scholarship; or submit a 30-minute video-recording demonstrating teaching ability;
- complete entrance examinations in music history and music theory to plan initial course
For complete curriculum details, click on the REQUIREMENTS tab above.
MTSU's School of Music offers an undergraduate major in Music leading to Bachelor
of Music (B.M.) degree in the following concentrations:
Undergraduate minors in Music, American Music Studies, and Music Industry are also
Students seeking a license to teach music in the public schools must complete
- a major in Music following the concentration in either Instrumental Music Education
or Vocal/General Music Education K–12,
- a minor in Secondary Education,
- the General Education Program, and
- additional teacher licensure requirements.
Music, Conducting Specialization, M.M.
Chris Combest, Program Director
The School of Music offers a Master of Music degree with specializations in collaborative piano, conducting, jazz studies, music composition, music education, musicology, and performance.
Please see undergraduate catalog for information regarding undergraduate program.
Admission to the Master of Music degree program requires
- an earned bachelor's degree in music from an accredited university or college;
- an acceptable grade point average in all college work taken (at least 3.00).
All application materials are to be submitted to the College of Graduate Studies.
- submit application with the appropriate application fee (online at www.mtsu.edu/graduate/apply.php). Once this initial application has been accepted, the applicant will receive directions on how to enter the graduate portal to be able to submit other materials.
- submit official transcripts of all previous college work;
- submit three letters of recommendation.
Additionally, those seeking a specialization in conducting must complete an audition. Applicants who do not pass the audition may be allowed, at the discretion of the faculty, to be admitted as non-degree seeking for one semester and must register for MUAP 5020 - Private Instruction. They must re-audition at the end of their first semester of study. Students who do not pass the audition on their second attempt will not be admitted.
The Master of Music degree in Music with a specialization in conducting requires completion of a minimum of 30 semester hours.
- complete the curriculum with 70 percent of the total degree hours at the 6000 level (see Curriculum section below for specifics);
- successfully complete both written and oral comprehensive examinations no earlier than the student's last semester of study. Comprehensive examinations may be repeated once.
Additionally, those with a specialization in conducting must establish proficiencies in music history, music theory,* and keyboard.
* NOTE: Diagnostic examinations in music theory and music history will be scheduled during the first week of the first semester of study. Students who do not pass the diagnostic examinations should consult with the graduate coordinator to plan how to meet the requirements. Additional courses may be required to satisfy these proficiency requirements.
Curriculum: Music, Conducting
The following illustrates the coursework requirements.
Core Courses (9 hours)
MUS 6620 - Bibliography and Research
Survey of bibliography and problems and methods of research. Analysis and evaluation of research in the arts.
MUTH 6050 - Analytical Techniques
Prerequisite: MUTH 5010 or permission of instructor. Skills and procedures of musical analysis as they apply to all periods through analysis of representative compositions. Evaluation of work from all standpoints: craftsmanship, expression, and stylistic correctness.
MUS 6630 - Music Seminar
Prerequisite: MUS 6620. Study and research of a topic in music determined by the instructor.
Specialization Courses (18-20 hours)
MUS 6030 - Conducting Problems and Score Interpretation
Analysis and marking of scores. Refinement of conducting techniques. Elimination of undesirable conducting habits. Diction as applied to conducting.
MUS 6060 - Advanced Conducting
Techniques in advanced conducting of orchestral, choral, band, and chamber ensembles. Includes irregular meters, score reading, warm-up procedures, conducting patterns, attacks, and releases.
MUAP 6709 - Private Instruction Conducting
Prerequisite: Completion of undergraduate recital. Consult graduate coordinator as to performance area availability. One-hour private lesson per week in the selected performance field. In-depth study of stylistic, technical, and musical problems in music performance and exploration of advanced repertoire in the applied area. Course may be repeated with no limit, but only three hours of credit may be applied toward the degree within the nine-hour private instruction requirement.
- Two ensembles at the 5000 level, 1 credit hour each, 2 credit hours
MUAP 6670 - Graduate Recital
Prerequisites: Completion of MUAP 6682 for the collaborative piano specializations; MUS 6030, MUS 6060, and MUAP 6709 for the conducting specialization; the appropriate courses from among MUAP 6681-MUAP 6688, MUAP 6691-MUAP 6698, and MUAP 6701-MUAP 6708 for the jazz studies and performance specializations; MUAP 6140, MUAP 6150, and MUAP 6160 for the music composition and music composition for contemporary media specializations; and permission of the appropriate music faculty in all specializations. One-hour private lesson per week in the selected performance field and recital preparation until recital completed. Those specializing in collaborative piano may take course three times.
For Instrumental Conductors
MUED 5240 - Instrumental Rehearsal Problems
Improving teaching in instrumental music classes through a study of rehearsal planning and techniques; the interpretation of music to students; group dynamics.
For Choral Conductors
MUHL 5680 - Choral Literature
Examines choral literature from the Renaissance to the present. Program selection. Analysis of choral pieces.
MUTH 5270 - Choral Arranging
The fundamentals of arranging musical works for vocal ensembles of various sizes, combinations, and skill levels.
Electives (1-3 hours)
Proficiency Courses Determined by Placement Examination (0-6 hours)
Either or both of these courses may be required based on the results of the student's diagnostic examinations in music history and music theory:
Keyboard proficiencies are evaluated by the student's primary conducting professor.
Our adjunct faculty bring outstanding professional experience to our programs. Many are industry leaders with decorated careers and honors. Importantly, they are innovative educators who offer hands-on learning to our students to prepare them to enter and thrive in a dynamic, and oftentimes emerging, industry and professional world. They inspire, instruct, and challenge our students toward academic and professional success.
General Application Procedures
- Submit through the University’s Application tool (button below):
- Submit application with the appropriate fee
- Submit official transcripts of all previous college work
- Submit three letters of recommendation.
- Email directly to the program coordinator of interested area
- Additional Requirements (video links, papers, compositions, etc)
- By the February 1 deadline
- Complete a Student Application (if interested) for a Graduate Teaching Assistantship
Additional Requirements: Audition
Additionally, those seeking a specialization in conducting must complete an audition.
Choral Conducting Audition
Please provide a video of you conducting both a recent choral performance and a video
of you rehearsing a choral ensemble. Please contact Dr. Raphael Bundage if you need
additional information. Raphael.Bundage@mtsu.edu or Ph. 615-898-2849.
Orchestral Conducting Audition
Please submit the following materials to Dr. Nies (Carol.NIes@mtsu.edu) by February 5.
- a fifteen minute online conducting video by link. (Send by dropbox link or other online
- your resume
Applicants who pass the preliminary audition will be invited for an on-campus audition.
This will include:
- Conducting assigned repertoire
- Score-reading test at the piano
- Melodic and harmonic dictation test
Please contact Dr. Carol Nies for additional information. (Carol.NIes@mtsu.edu or 615-898-5318).
Wind Band Conducting
Video Prescreening (required)
The prescreening submission should be between 15 and 20 minutes in length and should
include both rehearsal and performance footage in which the applicant is visible.
- All of the rehearsal footage should show a frontal view of the applicant; preferably
edited to highlight segments focused on dealing with specific rehearsal problems of
intonation, ensemble balance, technique, style or interpretation. Videos of uninterrupted
run-throughs in a rehearsal setting are not considered rehearsal material.
- One unedited performance of a complete work, preferably the same work featured in
the rehearsal video above. The camera should be positioned behind the ensemble facing
the conductor and the conductor should be clearly visible.
Email and attach your video prescreening to Reed.Thomas@mtsu.edu, by the December 1 deadline.
Audition (if invited)
- Repertoire and audition expectations will be discussed at the time the applicant is
invited to audition live.
Vocal Conducting / Instrumental Conducting
Applicants who do not pass the audition may be allowed, at the discretion of the faculty,
to be admitted with probationary status for one semester and must register for MUAP
5020 - Private Instruction. They must re-audition at the end of their first semester
of study. Students who do not pass the audition on their second attempt will be excused
from the program.
Proficiency Courses Determined by Placement Examination (0-14 hours)
Either or both of these courses may be required based on the results of the student's
diagnostic examinations in music history and music theory:
- MUTH 5010 - Theory Survey 3 credit hours
- MUHL 5070 - Music History Survey 1 to 3 credit hours
Students must also pass a Keyboard Proficiency Exam.
Online or Hybrid Programs at a Glance
This program is available .
For More Information or Explore Your Options
Contact your department / program coordinator or advisor for more details about the program OR work one-on-one with your advisor to explore your options.
The Online Advantage
With over 25 years of experience in online teaching and learning, MTSU Online offers students access to innovative, high-quality programs. Designed with students in mind, our courses allow maximum flexibility for those unable to participate in person.
Resources and services for online students are available from MTSU Online or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.