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Music: MM


The Master of Music degree has three specializations: Piano Performance and Pedagogy, Guitar Performance and Vocal Performance.

Master of Music students have the opportunity to acquire comprehensive knowledge in their emphasis through research and both classroom and individualized instruction, to develop and practice professional skills and to gain leadership experience.

The primary purpose of the Piano Performance and Pedagogy degree is to integrate instruction in piano pedagogy with high-level piano performance, making it a unique degree, as many MM programs in piano require students to specialize in either pedagogy or performance. The program is designed to fill an increasing demand for piano instructors who not only perform at a high level, but who also hold advanced credentials in teaching.  Piano Performance and Pedagogy candidates also receive experiential training through the USU Youth Conservatory, a pre-college piano program providing instruction to students ages 4 through 18.

The Guitar Performance emphasis offers students the opportunity to study with faculty at an advanced level who have established notable careers in a variety of performance styles. The guitar program was recently honored by Jazz Guitar Online as one of the Top 25 Programs in the U.S. for jazz guitar studies. Performance candidates are required to present two, 2-credit recitals in partial fulfillment of this degree.

The Choral Conducting emphasis focuses on ensemble performance, advanced conducting and rehearsal techniques, repertory and literature, and advisor-approved independent study which focuses on the student's career and educational objectives. Individual recital(s) and/or Research and Presentation project(s) are required of Conducting emphasis candidates.

The Voice Performance - Voice emphasis offers students the opportunity to study at an advanced level with nationally known faculty. The MM - Voice Performance degree prepares sudents for careers in performance and pedagogy, and offers exceptional opportunities to perform in USU Opera and Utah Festival Opera. MM students will have the opportunity to work with internationally recognized artists and teachers. Past visiting artists include Kelli O'Hara, Dr. Scott McCoy, and Libby Larsen.View additional information about voice at USU by visiting the pages for Voice Performance and Choral Education.

Specific questions about each emphasis and course of study should be directed to the graduate faculty in the preferred emphasis.


  • Piano Performance and Pedagogy: The program is designed to fill an increasing demand for piano instructors who not only perform at a high level, but who also hold advanced credentials in teaching.
  • Guitar Performance: The Guitar Performance specialization focuses on individual instruction, ensemble performance and advisor-approved independent study which focuses on the student’s career and educational objectives.
  • Choral Conducting: Choral conducting focuses on ensemble performance, advanced conducting and rehearsal techniques, repertory and literature, and independent study based on student’s career and educational objectives.
  • Voice Performance: The Voice Performance specialization focuses on individual applied instruction, in-depth repertoire study through one-on-one coaching, advanced vocal pedagogy, and performance in solo recitals and staged dramatic works through USU Opera Theatre and through partnership with Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre. Graduates of this program will be equipped for a career in performance, high-quality studio teaching, or further graduate study in an Artist Diploma or Doctoral program.

Graduates with the MM typically pursue careers as piano teachers and performers. They are also prepared to pursue doctoral degrees; either the doctor of musical arts (DMA), which is focused on performance, or the doctor of philosophy (PhD), which focuses more on academia.

Admission Requirements

It is preferred that applicants have an undergraduate degree in music with an emphasis in piano.

Application Requirements:

  • Complete the online application
  • Pay the $55 application fee
  • Score at or above the 40th percentile on the GRE
  • Have a 3.0 or higher GPA on your last 60 semester or 90 quarter credits
  • Provide transcripts of all college/university credits
  • Provide three contacts for letters of recommendation
  • The Music Department requires students to audition in front of an entrance committee comprised of members of the piano faculty. If a live audition at the USU campus is impractical, applicants may send an audio-visual recording that demonstrates their level of proficiency with regard to piano performance.

International students have additional admissions requirements.

Admission Deadlines

Students are accepted throughout the year; however, it is recommended that students seeking financial assistance apply before March 1.

Master's Degree Plan Option(s)

Students can receive the MM by pursuing the following option:

  • The Plan C option does not involve a thesis or a defense meeting and is comprised of coursework only, including a terminal recital.

Financial Assistance

Select students will be offered department-funded graduate assistantship positions. After completing departmental requirements, these students will be eligible to teach courses in the undergraduate curriculum for music majors and minors, including music theory, aural skills, and keyboard harmony. All graduate students, including those who do not receive an assistantship position, have the opportunity to provide private piano instruction to nonmajors, for which they will receive compensation.

A variety of additional funding opportunities are available, including fellowships, scholarships, tuition awards, and travel support. Additionally, students may be eligible for subsidized health insurance through qualifying assistantships.

Sergio Bernal, DMA, University of Michigan and Yale University
Area: Theory, composition
Office: FAC 218 A
Phone: (435) 797-0487

Timothy Chenette, PhD, Indiana University
Associate Professor
Department: Music Department
Area: Music Theory
Office: FAC 216A
Phone: (435) 797-4995

Corey Christiansen, MM, University of South Florida
Associate Professor
Department: Music Department
Area: Guitar Performance
Office: FAC 124
Phone: (435) 797-8840

Cory Evans, DMA, Arizona State University
Director of Choral Activities
Office: FAC 215
Phone: (435) 797-3035

Errik Hood, DMA, Ohio State University

Department: Music Department
Area: Voice, opera.
Office: FAC 206B
Phone: (435) 797-6374

Kevin Olson, EdD, National-Louis University
Associate Professor, Piano Program Coordinator
Area: Piano, composition
Office: FAC 101
Phone: (435) 797-3033

Christopher Scheer, PhD, University of Michigan
Associate Professor
Area: Musicology, music history
Office: FAC 204
Phone: (435) 797-8706

Professional Organizations, Honor Societies, and Clubs

Music Teachers National Association: MTNA is a nonprofit organization of more than 24,000 music teachers, independent and collegiate, who share the vision of furthering the art of music through programs that encourage and support teaching and performance.

Utah Music Teachers Association: UMTA, a chapter of Music Teachers National Association, is a nonprofit organization of more than 600 music teachers across the state. Through monthly meetings and workshops, members are able to create a support network and exchange ideas about how to improve their teaching.

Labs, Centers, Research

Caine Lyric Theatre: The Caine Lyric Theatre is located in downtown Logan. The 378-seat proscenium theatre, listed on the Utah State Historical Register (1913), is home to the Old Lyric Repertory Company and hosts USU Opera program performances.

Kent Concert Hall: The Kent Concert Hall, located in the Chase Fine Arts Center, seats 2,168 patrons in five orchestra sections and five balcony sections. It has a proscenium stage and an apron that can be removed to reveal the orchestra pit at the front of the stage. The Kent Concert Hall is most specifically designed for orchestra programs and features a full-stage acoustical shell as part of the standard-stage setup.

Manon Caine Russell Kathryn Caine Wanlass Performance Hall: The Performance Hall is a 20,000-square-foot building that serves USU, the Cache Valley community, and the Intermountain region. The venue features a 400-seat performance hall, a stage for up to 22 performers, and a lobby with glass windows overlooking a plaza. The hall’s intimate scale is ideal for small acoustical performances, such as chamber music, vocal and instrumental concerts, recitals, readings, and lectures.

Morgan Theatre: A 670-seat thrust theatre is used for plays and small concerts and performances. The Morgan Theatre is the main performance venue for the USU Theatre Department. It also serves as a wonderful venue for music, dance, or conferences that want a more intimate performance venue.

Youth Conservatory: The Youth Conservatory serves as a lab program for USU piano pedagogy students to hone their teaching skills and receive faculty guidance in applied teaching situations. More than 300 pianists, ages 4–18, of varying abilities and backgrounds, come to the Chase Fine Arts Center for piano lessons and musicianship classes each week.



Academic Advising

Cahill Smith
Assistant Professor - Piano
Office: FAC 201
Phone: (435) 797-3028

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