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- March 21, 2016 at 9:52 pm #505630Christina KrugerParticipant
I am a senior Vocal Performance student at Millikin University in Illinois. I intend to pursue an MM in Choral Conducting, hopefully beginning Fall 2017. I’ve taken as many conducting classes as possible through my current university (beginning, choral, and instrumental), and I began directing a moderate-sized church choir and a small handbell choir at a local church this past September. I’ll remain at that church through May/June ’17, giving me 2 years of experience before entering a graduate program. I’m also looking into a potential internship involving an auditioned choir for the Fall 16/Spring 17 year. As a Performance major, I don’t have the benefit of student teaching.
What are your recommendations for additional experience/resume boosters?
I am also not entirely sure how to go about picking universities to research and apply to. I’m concerned that universities offering both the MM and DMA in my field will give most of the opportunities (podium time, assistantships, etc.) to the DMA students. However, I’m wondering if MM only universities might be lacking in opportunities since the school is smaller.
What are your thoughts on program options? What universities or professors would you recommend I look into? I don’t have much of a preference for location, although I’d rather go somewhere outside of Illinois.
Any advice is appreciated. Thank you!March 28, 2016 at 7:42 pm #508127Kimberly AdamsParticipant
It sounds to me like you’re doing all of the right things, and in fact, your path sounds very similar to mine. I was a Voice Performance major as an undergraduate, and I found it to be an excellent choice for a choral conducting career. I benefitted from the diction classes, vocal pedagogy, and performance experience — and the degree allowed me to take almost as many conducting classes as the college offered. Conducting in a church job is an excellent way to get experience, as are internships, summer programs, and ad hoc choirs. My undergraduate students at Western Michigan University also get podium time by conducting with student organizations. Our ACDA chapter holds in-house reading sessions and does service projects (Christmas caroling, etc.) with student conductors. Our student organizations (PMA, SAI, ODE, and the other music fraternities) put on shows and have choirs sing in their meetings – all student-conducted.
There are pros and cons to every kind of program, so I can’t say which would be better for you. As Director of an MM-only program, I can say that our MM students get a lot of personal attention and podium time. (And we do offer assistantships.)
At WMU, our MM students get between 2-3 hours of podium time per week at the school, and sometimes more. They have their own choirs and are assistant conductors of our faculty-directed choruses as well. Further, every student has at least one community or church choir that they conduct outside of WMU. This allows three different kinds of learning experiences — heavily supervised (masterclass style), moderately supervised (observed with notes/comments), and unsupervised (to allow you some freedom and independence).
Every program is different, so you should ask the teachers which kinds of opportunities would be available to you at each institution. Generalizations won’t do you much good. I don’t believe that every MM-only program offers assistantships and lots of podium time, just as I don’t believe that all DMA/MM programs deny the MM candidates funding and experience. Start by casting a wide net, and then research those programs thoroughly. See who offers what you want. Attend ACDA conventions and use that time to meet with the teachers and students in those programs. Most of us are thrilled to talk to young choral conductors – it’s a great field and we love to welcome others into it!
Good luck to you!
Kimberly Dunn Adams
Director of Choral Activities
Western Michigan University
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