Caine College of the Arts
Department of Music
Graduate Degrees in Music
The USU Music Department offers accredited Master of Music (MM) degrees with specializations in Piano Performance and Pedagogy, Voice Performance, Guitar Performance, and Choral Conducting. USU Master of Music students acquire comprehensive knowledge in their specialization through intensive one-on-one applied study, challenging seminar classes, and research. Through the curriculum, MM students have multiple opportunities to practice professional skills, expand their intellectual capabilities, and gain leadership experience.
Selected MM students will be offered graduate assistantship positions under faculty supervision. After completing departmental requirements, these students will be eligible to teach courses in the undergraduate curriculum for music majors and minors. All graduate students, including those who do not receive an assistantship position, may have the opportunity to provide instruction to non-majors, for which they would receive payment. These teaching opportunities will be invaluable components to the graduate program, which is specifically designed to prepare students for both performance and teaching careers.
Prospective students of the proposed graduate program will apply for admission to the Utah State University School of Graduate Studies. University policies that establish acceptable standards for these graduate programs are developed and maintained by the Dean of Graduate Studies with the advice of the University and College Graduate Councils. Within the Department of Music, the graduate program is governed by the Music Department Graduate Committee. The Department of Music is the final arbiter of who meets the standards, both for admission and graduation in music.
Master of Music (MM) Application
All applications are submitted online through gradschool.usu.edu/apply/. Applicants to the Master of Music degree must complete the following:
- Official College Transcripts - To qualify for admission to the MM program, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in any field of study, with a GPA of at least 3.0. Official transcripts must be sent directly from previous institutions to USU.
- (NOT REQUIRED) GRE or MAT Scores - The GRE or MAT is optional for applicants to the Master of Music degree programs. However, applicants should be advised that the GRE/MAT is a requirement for some tuition waivers and scholarships available through the School of Graduate Studies. For information about these awards, and whether or not applicants may qualify, please visit gradschool.usu.edu/tuition-financial-aid/.
- Letters of Recommendation – Three satisfactory letters of recommendation must be sent directly by the recommenders through the application server. Applicants are highly encouraged to seek a recommendation from a primary applied teacher and one academic music faculty (theory, history, etc.).
- Writing Sample - Applicants must upload a 500–1000 word (1-2 pages, single-spaced) personal statement on one of the following topics:
- Topic 1: Describe a moment or experience in your musical education that convinced you to pursue higher education in music.
- Topic 2: How do you hope your career in music will make an impact on today’s musical culture?
- Topic 3: Why does/should music matter to individuals or society today?
An academic research paper on a musical subject may also be accepted at the discretion of the Graduate Music Committee. The writing sample will be evaluated by the Music Department Graduate Committee and all full-time faculty in the applicant’s primary area of emphasis. Applicant essays will be evaluated in part on the quality of writing, including organization, concision, and clarity.
- International Student Requirements - In addition to the General Admissions Requirements, International students must meet the language, degree, and funding requirements of the USU School of Graduate Studies, available at gradschool.usu.edu/apply/.
- Audition/Interview - Applicants must complete a successful live or recorded entrance audition/interview. To schedule an audition, submit an “Online Graduate Audition Application” at music.usu.edu/apply/index. If travel distance or schedule conflicts prevent applicants from auditioning live, they may submit a video recording of their audition through the recorded audition form: music.usu.edu/students/recorded-audition-form.
MM Piano Performance and Pedagogy Specialization
Applicants for the Master of Music in Piano Performance and Pedagogy should prepare two pieces from contrasting periods (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Modern, etc.) to be performed from memory. Applicants should bring a typed repertoire list to the audition, including solo, concerto, and chamber repertoire studied in the last four years. Applicants who wish to be considered for accompanying stipends may be asked to sight-read.
Piano area scholarships are awarded only to applicants who intend to pursue a piano degree. Limited graduate assistantships are available for students entering the MM degree program in Piano Performance and Pedagogy.
For additional information, or to schedule another date for a live audition, please contact Dr. Cahill Smith at email@example.com.
The Piano Performance and Pedagogy degree integrates instruction in piano pedagogy with advanced levels of piano performance, preparing graduates for careers as independent studio teachers, as well as those who will teach in higher education, and/or pursue Doctor of Musical Arts degrees at other institutions. Students in the program must complete a minimum of 36 approved semester credits, divided into three main areas: (1) 12 credits in performance, (2) 12 credits in pedagogy, and (3) 12 credits in history and theory.
MM Performance (Voice Specialization)
Applicants for the Master of Music - Performance (Voice Specialization) should prepare the following:
- A combination of 5 art songs and arias (both categories should be represented) demonstrating proficiency in at least three languages, one of which should be English.
- Two additional pieces are optional: one oratorio/concert work aria and/or one musical theatre selection.
An accompanist will be provided, but candidates may bring their own. Pre-recorded accompaniment tracks (minus tracks) are not allowed. All repertoire should be memorized for the audition, with the exception of the optional oratorio/concert work aria. Auditions will also include a brief interview and may include an assessment of the auditioning student’s sight-reading and/or aural skills.
For additional information, or to schedule another date for a live audition, please contact Dr. Cindy Dewey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The MM in Performance with specialization in Voice includes individual instruction, ensemble performance and vocal pedagogy techniques which focus on the student’s career and educational objectives. Students in the program must complete a minimum of 32 approved semester credits, divided into two main areas: (1) 20 credits in performance and (2) 12 credits in other studies in music.
MM Performance (Guitar Specialization)
Applicants for the Master of Music - Performance (Guitar Specialization) should prepare the following for an audition:
- All major and minor (natural, harmonic, and melodic) scales in two octaves.
- Other common scales – modes of the major scale, whole-tone, diminished, etc.
- One solo piece (chord solo arrangement or classical/fingerstyle) that best represents the applicant’s technical and artistic strengths.
- Applicants should bring a typed list of repertoire studied in the last four years.
All applicants will also be tested on music reading and knowledge of chord voicing in the audition. Applicants with a jazz emphasis should also prepare to improvise over a “standard” and a blues progression.
For questions regarding guitar audition repertoire, please contact Corey Christiansen at email@example.com.
The MM in Performance with specialization in Guitar includes individual instruction, ensemble performance and advisor-approved independent study which focuses on the student’s career and educational objectives. Students in the program must complete a minimum of 30 approved semester credits, divided into two main areas: (1) 16 credits in performance and (2) 14 credits in other studies in music.
MM Conducting (Choral Specialization)
Applicants for the Master of Music - Conducting (Choral Specialization) must complete the following by December 15th for full consideration:
- Submit a pre-screening video recording, via weblinks (YouTube, Google Drive, etc.) through the recorded audition form, music.usu.edu/students/recorded-audition-form. This pre-screening recording should include:
- Approximately 10 minutes of rehearsal footage demonstrating the applicant’s abilities teaching, assessing, coaching and developing ensemble skills.
- Approximately 10 minutes of performance footage from the ensemble’s perspective (conductor’s face is visible) demonstrating the applicant’s abilities as a creative colleague and performer. There is no restriction as to the profile of the ensemble (elementary, middle school, high school, college, professional, community). The applicant should select the footage that illustrates their best work in partnership with the ensemble. Careful consideration should be given to the quality of the repertoire and suitability of the ensemble’s skills and for graduate conducting study.
- Applicants whose pre-audition screening is approved should confer with the Coordinator of Graduate Choral Conducting Studies, Dr. Craig Jessop (firstname.lastname@example.org), to schedule the audition/interview and discuss the literature to be conducted for the audition. The audition will include vocalizing and rehearsing the choir, an interview with the choral faculty, and a brief singing exercise to include sight-reading.
For questions regarding the choral conducting application process, please contact Dr. Craig Jessop, Professor of Choral Conducting, at email@example.com.
The primary purpose of this degree is to develop and educate graduate students with a high-level of choral conducting and administrative skills so that they are prepared and qualified to direct a choral program at an advanced level and contribute as professionals to the growth and development of the choral field. This program includes the importance of intensive score preparation and study, emphasizing conducting abilities that demonstrate expressive and clear gestures with poise and confidence, and rehearsal preparation which is faithful to the score and connects with the musicians, resulting in inspiring performances. It introduces the students to a diverse choral repertoire of both secular and sacred music from the different stylistic periods of choral music.
This master’s program is intended for the student who has had previous conducting experience and who wishes to pursue advanced studies to be a more fully-equipped teacher in public or private education, or to advance to doctoral study. The degree stresses the advancement of musical understanding and skill, as well as those personal traits and abilities required of the conductor who aspires to musical excellence.
The MM in Conducting with a specialization in Choral Conducting is a two-year, 32 credit hour program. Courses consist of private conducting lessons, bibliography, music history and literature, advanced music theory, conducting seminars with ensembles, department ensemble participation, final recital, and final oral and/or written examinations.