McNally Smith College of Music ( announced today that it is offering a Masters of Music degree designed for performance majors in a variety of disciplines, beginning Fall Semester 2011. The ground-breaking contemporary music college will offer a new Masters of Music degree designed for performers in voice, strings, woodwinds, brass, piano, guitar, bass, keyboard, and percussion and emphasize advanced music performance study through applied music lessons, ensembles, recitals, and studio performance.

The four-semester — 38-credit — program will also include intensive instrument technique and pedagogy, as well as music technology and music business training designed to equip students with realistic tools and contemporary understandings about American and global music, music education and the fluid dynamics of the music industry. Students who complete the program will be better musicians and more prepared as they go on to their professional lives. With courses in everything from music analysis to New Media Promotion and Digital Audio Production, the McNally Smith Masters graduate will have the skills and experience needed to impact the music industry in whatever career they choose.

The innovative program will be taught by senior faculty members of the College from a variety of interdisciplinary areas (See Brochure online for more background at:

The scholarly studies involve:

  • History of American Music and Its Influences
  • Global Improvisation
  • Music Research and Bibliography
  • Comparative Music Analysis
  • Pedagogy
  • Applied Music
  • Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century Music Business
  • New Media Promotion and Digital Audio Production
  • Final Project
  • Final Recital

Preparing the Whole Musician for Today’s Global, Musical and Economic Environment

“Students who complete the program will be better musicians and more prepared as they go on to their professional lives,” notes Terry Burns, Graduate Studies Coordinator and Bass Department Head. The McNally Smith Masters of Music degree is designed for the graduate student who is looking for a program that is more contemporary and global in scope and relevant in today’s musical and economic environment.”

“Most graduate degrees in music performance are based in specific styles of music such as jazz performance or classical performance,” Burns adds. “This program offers an enhanced education in contemporary music, which of course contains elements of jazz and classical music, as well as rock, Latin styles, reggae, funk and R &B, and other styles of contemporary music performance. We see our offering as an important part of preparing the whole musician.”

Student Requests Drove Master’s Development; Program Can Impact How Music Is Taught

“With the new Masters of Music program, McNally Smith College of Music again demonstrates its commitment to being a premier institution of higher learning for the musical arts — and internationally recognized as such by students, educators, and music professionals,” says Cliff Wittstruck, Dean of Academic Affairs and faculty member who teaches guitar. “The program is a unique development in graduate music education. Its broad and practical focus on performance will enable Master’s students to excel in their chosen music professions and allow others to go on for doctoral degrees. Given the program’s scope and utility, the college believes it can have a major impact over the next decade in how music is taught.”

Wittstruck says the decision to develop the Master’s program was made after receiving numerous requests from prospective students, and also recognizing the need for developing quality instructors with Master’s degrees in the areas of study that McNally Smith currently offers. The college received approval for the program from the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) late in the fall of 2010 and expects a first group of students to enroll in its 2011 fall term.

About McNally Smith College of Music

McNally Smith College of Music offers a variety of degree programs in Music Performance, Recording Technology, Music Composition, Music Business and other areas. Its alumni are working all over the world performing, recording, producing, being written about and leading successful lives in the music industry.

The music college’s diverse faculty includes Grammy® Award nominees, Hollywood film composers, Broadway veterans,  players in Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” assorted Nashville Cats, best-selling Jazz artists, authors, major label rockers, Billboard chart toppers, commissioned composers, accomplished producers and engineers who have worked with everyone from Atmosphere, Prince, Phil Collins and Aretha Franklin to Yanni, Paula Abdul, Dick Dale and countless other rockers, combos, orchestras, recording labels, and industry executives who care deeply about their art and the next generation of music makers. With more than 600 students and a 125-member faculty and the only Hip-Hop diploma program in the country, McNally Smith students get a personalized music education that combines musical artistry and wide access to current music technology, research tools and performance facilities.


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