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More Grad school advice

I am delighted and very grateful for the many generous, useful and interesting
responses to my questions. In response to requests I hereby share them with

John Stewart

Original question:
"I have a very talented college senior as my assistant director who has
decided to pursue choral conducting instead of theoretical studies. I would
like to know:
1) Which in your opinions are the best 10 or 12 schools in the country to
get a master's/doctorate?
2) Do you think it advisable to procede directly form undergraduate (BA) to
the master's? He wants eventually to work on the college level.
3) Are there any schools which at this point would still entertain
admitting a grad student in the fall of 2000?
4) If he were not to start grad school this fall, what would be his best
course of action?"

(beginning of compilation)

Subject: Re: further training

>1) Which in your opinions are the best 10 or 12 schools in the country to
>get a master's/doctorate?

U of Arizona has an excellent program. ChoralNet has a list of
programs, but they're not really annotated.

>2) Do you think it advisable to procede directly form undergraduate (BA) to
>the master's? He wants eventually to work on the college level.

Not unless he has significant practical experience as a church choir
director, etc.

>3) Are there any schools which at this point would still entertain
>admitting a grad student in the fall of 2000?
>4) If he were not to start grad school this fall, what would be his best
>course of action?

Do some real conducting somewhere.

Subject: RE: further training

I suspect there is still time to get into a grad school. I would urge going
directly into an MA program. Try:

Univ Colorado Boulder
U South carolina, Columbia, I think. Larry Wyatt - terrific
Indiana University - Jan Harrington
Temple in Phila - Alan Harler
Oklahoma State - Jerry McCoy (U Okla?)

Just some favorites

Subject: Re: further training

May I put in a plug for our program here at OSU? Our top two choirs have
been featured on two separate national ACDA conventions --1997 and 1999.
The latter performance wa given by our Chamber Choir in Chicago last March.
Our Chamber Choir will be featured on the program of the Association of
British Choral Directors next August in Chester, England. We are the only
American choir invited.

Our grad students get ample time in front of our choirs. They work with all
3 of our choral conductors. They get exposed to our Boys choir, our Girls
choir, high end college choirs and a para-professional chamber choir.

Might I suggest your student call one or two of my grad students? Our
number here is:405/744-8992. Ask for Cathy Byard, Doug Burney, or Julie

Subject: RE: further training

I cannot speak too highly of the master's program at Westminster Choir
College in Princeton, NJ, where I had the fortune to do my master's with
Joseph Flummerfelt. I did my doctorate at U of Illinois in Urbana, which
balanced the Westminster program well. I think a student who wants to teach
college should be sure to get at least three years of teaching experience
before starting the doctorate, preferably in the public school (the job
announcements usually show a preference for that). U of Illinois's DMA
program in coral conducting in fact requires three years of teach experience
prior to starting the program. If your student does a master's he should
look for a two-year program and be prepared to take a church choir or
community choir position if possible to extend his conducting experience
outside the classroom.

Good luck to your student!

Subject: Re: further training

In my opinion the hottest choral program right now is at Univ. of Kansas
under Simon Carrington.
I've seen him work and was impressed. You can look up his programs at and see the great amount of activity on that campus.
I also have great respect for Rodney Eichenberger at Florida State,
Tallahassee. FSU graduates huge numbers of music grad students.
I just wish I were young again and had the chance to choose where to go,
all of my heroes are passing from the scene.

Subject: Re: further training

Dear Dr. Stewart --

Being biased on the issue of question #1, I'll respond only to the rest.

Our experience at the University of North Texas suggests that Master's
students benefit greatly coming into the program with several years of solid
practical experience as a conductor under their belt. This could be in a
school or church context, it really doesn't matter, as long as they have
been able to work on a daily or at least weekly basis with an ensemble over
a substantial period. There is so much to learn about working with people,
planning and pacing rehearsals, and solving technical and musical problems,
that cannot be taught from a textbook, but must be learned by experience. I
would strongly urge your student to find a small church choir, or possible a
small private school (if certification is an issue) where he can work on
these skills before entering a graduate program. Believe me, this is time
well spent, and starting a graduate program without these skills and
experience, is often time wasted.

Subject: grad school questions


Just saw your questions on choralist:

About your undergrad student -

These are the schools that come to mind for grad programs:

Michigan State with Charles Smith
Cincinnati Conservatory (CCM) with Earl Rivers
Boston University (Ann Jones)
Eastman (William Weinert)
Florida State (Andre Thomas and Rodney Eichenberger)
U. of Wisconsin-Madison (Beverly Taylor)

We also have a graduate program in conducting here at Ohio State.

Should he go straight on? In a word, "no." Experience is the best teacher
and we find here that applicants with no experience cannot hold a candle,
despite good academics and often good gestural facility, with those who
have taught, even a couple of years. What we gain by going straight on is
lots of theoretical knowledge but not the time and maturity to develop our
ears, teaching skills, and musicianship, along with 'people skiils" to do
as well as possible in grad school.

His best course of action would be to get a teaching/conducting job - in a
public school, with a community choir, or in a church (that is one of the
best learning situations of all!), get a 2-3 years of experience and then
apply to a

We expect master's applicants to have that and doctoral students to have
even more. It is really to their own advantage. Most jobs in colleges
require the doctorate and prior teaching experience and going from the
master's to the doctorate, after teaching, is OK. We have some master's
students now who are looking at doctoral programs now. Each has at least
5-6 years of teaching in high school already and will be ready to move
right on to the doctoral level.

Most schools I know have finished their audition process by now and are in
the process of making financial decisions.

Subject: Re: further training


I would recommend:

Westminster Choir College, NJ

As you may know, this is a very competitive degree program. These schools
have already filled their fall 2000 class but it is never to late to start
planning for fall 2001. Advise your student to take a year and work as a
conductor at a church, school, etc.. Also, I would advise him/her to take
advantage of the summer conducting programs offered. Eastman, Westminster,
Hartt, and many others have great week-long college conducting courses for

Subject: Re: further training

>We would love to have him here at Illinois State University.

The top ten, in my opinion are
Univ Missouri Kansas City
San Jose (masters)
Florida State University.
Unfortunately, he should look very carefully to see if the doctoral
students get all the perks and if he would truly develop his own
musicianship. Some smaller programs have more opportunities for the
masters students.

(end of compilation)

John Stewart
Director of Vocal Activities
Washington University in St. Louis
Department of Music
Campus Box 1032
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130


314 935 5597