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Music, Conducting Specialization, M.M.

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The Master of Music degree program with a conducting specialization is an advanced course of study for musicians who hold the bachelor’s degree and seek advanced instruction in choral or orchestral and wind ensemble conducting. The program features studies in literature, arrangement and interpretation with ensemble experience designed to maximize podium time. Students study with a distinguished faculty of experienced artists who mentor students towards an individual artistic voice and its expression in the direction of an ensemble. Graduate teaching assistantship opportunities are available to qualified students.

What We're Doing

Rubén Darío Gómez

Graduate says students are encouraged to ‘dream

Rubén Darío Gómez grew up in Colombia where music played a big part of his childhood. Now, a conductor, composer, pianist and music educator, the MTSU graduate says it was his professors who encouraged him to “dream big,” leading him to go on to earn his doctorate degree after earning his master’s in music, specializing in wind band conducting.  “This is a program where you can get what you want, depending on your dreams and expectations, but also, they push your expectations at a higher level. They make you dream big,” he said.  Gómez said the experience at MTSU is like none other. “The program provides a significant amount of podium time, but also you can get other chances to conduct, depending on your initiatives and interest.” Gómez began teaching at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville in 2020.

Jeffrey Keever

Time on podium sets MTSU's conducting program apart from others

Jeffrey Keever has been interested in conducting ever since he had the opportunity to conduct the wind ensemble in elementary school. After meeting a professor in MTSU’s conducting program while working on his Bachelor’s degree at Vanderbilt University, Keever knew MTSU was the next step in his education journey. “This program allows you to have a vast amount of conducting experience, paired with an intense study of music history, music theory, score reading, conducting technique, solfege, rehearsal techniques, and more. Though the program is intense, it is one that stands out when compared to others in terms of conducting experience and knowledge,” he said.  While at MTSU, Keever was the head conductor of the Concert Orchestra and the assistant conductor of MTSU’s Symphony and Chamber Orchestra. He plans to attend the Prague Summer Nights Music Festival in Prague, Czech Republic, as a Conducting Apprentice and the Rome Music Festival in Rome, Italy, as a Conducting Assistant after graduation.

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Alumni from the School of Music teach thousands of students every day in private studios and schools from kindergarten through university levels. MTSU graduates perform in orchestras, military ensembles, and opera companies; appear in clubs and recording studios with the famous and yet-to-be-known; compose music for Hollywood films and commercial jingles; lead professional music organizations; work in the music industry; serve as church musicians; and continually enrich the lives of others. Some continue on to enter prestigious doctoral programs. A sample of potential professional pathways for music master's students:

  • Artistic director
  • Band director/leader
  • Choral/choir director
  • Church musician/worship leader
  • College professor/instructor
  • Conductor
  • General music teacher at elementary/middle schools
  • Music educator
  • Music theater director
  • Musical director
  • Orchestra librarian
  • Studio musician

Employers of MTSU alumni include

  • Bellevue Middle School
  • Belmont University
  • Cane Ridge High School
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • Chattanooga Symphony
  • Cumberland University
  • The Downtown Band
  • Earl Klugh (Grammy winner)
  • EMBRA Artists, LTD.
  • Fairview Middle School
  • Jeff Coffin (Grammy winner)
  • Jonathan Fletcher Music
  • Lipscomb University
  • MEINL Percussion
  • Middle Tennessee State University
  • Murfreesboro City Schools
  • Nashville Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Nashville State Community College
  • Northeast Mississippi Community College
  • Old Center Elementary School, Nashville
  • Onks Woodwind Specialist
  • Siegel Middle School
  • Trevecca Nazarene University
  • University of Louisiana-Lafayette
  • University of Northern Colorado
  • Vine Street Christian Church, Nashville


The School of Music’s Masters of Music Degree is offered with seven graduate specializations:

A minor in Music is offered at the graduate level.

Applicants must

  • hold (or be about to receive) an undergraduate degree in music;
  • have an acceptable grade point average in all college work taken (at least 3.0);
  • depending on specialization, either do an audition or submit an audition audio or video-recording; submit scores and recordings of compositions; submit written samples of scholarship; or submit a 30-minute video-recording demonstrating teaching ability;
  • complete entrance examinations in music history and music theory to plan initial course of study;

For complete curriculum details, click on the REQUIREMENTS tab above.


MTSU's School of Music offers an undergraduate major in Music leading to Bachelor of Music (B.M.) degree in the following concentrations:

Undergraduate minors in Music, American Music Studies, and Music Industry are also available. 

Teacher licensure

Students seeking a license to teach music in the public schools must complete

  • a major in Music following the concentration in either Instrumental Music Education or Vocal/General Music Education K–12,
  • a minor in Secondary Education,
  • the General Education Program, and
  • additional teacher licensure requirements.

Music, Conducting Specialization, M.M.

Chris Combest, Program Director
(615) 898-2476

The School of Music offers a Master of Music degree with specializations in collaborative piano, conducting, jazz studies, music composition, music education, musicology, and performance.

Please see undergraduate catalog for information regarding undergraduate program.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the Master of Music degree program requires

  1. an earned bachelor's degree in music from an accredited university or college;
  2. an acceptable grade point average in all college work taken (at least 3.00).

Application Procedures

All application materials are to be submitted to the College of Graduate Studies.

Applicant must

  1. submit application with the appropriate application fee (online at Once this initial application has been accepted, the applicant will receive directions on how to enter the graduate portal to be able to submit other materials.
  2. submit official transcripts of all previous college work;
  3. submit three letters of recommendation.

Additionally, those seeking a specialization in conducting must complete an audition. Applicants who do not pass the audition may be allowed, at the discretion of the faculty, to be admitted as non-degree seeking for one semester and must register for MUAP 5020 - Private Instruction. They must re-audition at the end of their first semester of study. Students who do not pass the audition on their second attempt will not be admitted.

Degree Requirements

The Master of Music degree in Music with a specialization in conducting requires completion of a minimum of 30 semester hours.

Candidates must

  1. complete the curriculum with 70 percent of the total degree hours at the 6000 level (see Curriculum section below for specifics);
  2. successfully complete both written and oral comprehensive examinations no earlier than the student's last semester of study. Comprehensive examinations may be repeated once.

Additionally, those with a specialization in conducting must establish proficiencies in music history, music theory,* and keyboard.

* NOTE: Diagnostic examinations in music theory and music history will be scheduled during the first week of the first semester of study. Students who do not pass the diagnostic examinations should consult with the graduate coordinator to plan how to meet the requirements. Additional courses may be required to satisfy these proficiency requirements.

Curriculum: Music, Conducting

The following illustrates the coursework requirements.

Core Courses (9 hours)


  • MUS 6620 - Bibliography and Research

    3credit hours

    Survey of bibliography and problems and methods of research. Analysis and evaluation of research in the arts.

  • MUTH 6050 - Analytical Techniques

    3credit hours

    Prerequisite: MUTH 5010 or permission of instructor. Skills and procedures of musical analysis as they apply to all periods through analysis of representative compositions. Evaluation of work from all standpoints: craftsmanship, expression, and stylistic correctness.

  • MUS 6630 - Music Seminar  3 credit hours  

    MUS 6630 - Music Seminar

    3credit hours

    Prerequisite: MUS 6620. Study and research of a topic in music determined by the instructor.

Specialization Courses (18-20 hours)

  • MUS 6030 - Conducting Problems and Score Interpretation

    3credit hours

    Analysis and marking of scores. Refinement of conducting techniques. Elimination of undesirable conducting habits. Diction as applied to conducting.

  • MUS 6060 - Advanced Conducting

    3credit hours

    Techniques in advanced conducting of orchestral, choral, band, and chamber ensembles. Includes irregular meters, score reading, warm-up procedures, conducting patterns, attacks, and releases.

  • MUAP 6709 - Private Instruction Conducting

    3credit hours

    Prerequisite: Completion of undergraduate recital. Consult graduate coordinator as to performance area availability. One-hour private lesson per week in the selected performance field. In-depth study of stylistic, technical, and musical problems in music performance and exploration of advanced repertoire in the applied area. Course may be repeated with no limit, but only three hours of credit may be applied toward the degree within the nine-hour private instruction requirement.

  • Two ensembles at the 5000 level, 1 credit hour each, 2 credit hours
  • MUAP 6670 - Graduate Recital  3 credit hours  

    MUAP 6670 - Graduate Recital

    3credit hours

    Prerequisites: Completion of MUAP 6682 for the collaborative piano specializations; MUS 6030, MUS 6060, and MUAP 6709 for the conducting specialization; the appropriate courses from among MUAP 6681-MUAP 6688, MUAP 6691-MUAP 6698, and MUAP 6701-MUAP 6708 for the jazz studies and performance specializations; MUAP 6140, MUAP 6150, and MUAP 6160 for the music composition and music composition for contemporary media specializations; and permission of the appropriate music faculty in all specializations. One-hour private lesson per week in the selected performance field and recital preparation until recital completed. Those specializing in collaborative piano may take course three times.

For Instrumental Conductors


  • MUED 5240 - Instrumental Rehearsal Problems

    3credit hours

    Improving teaching in instrumental music classes through a study of rehearsal planning and techniques; the interpretation of music to students; group dynamics.

For Choral Conductors


  • MUHL 5680 - Choral Literature

    2credit hours

    Examines choral literature from the Renaissance to the present. Program selection. Analysis of choral pieces.

  • MUTH 5270 - Choral Arranging  2 credit hours  

    MUTH 5270 - Choral Arranging

    2credit hours

    The fundamentals of arranging musical works for vocal ensembles of various sizes, combinations, and skill levels.

Electives (1-3 hours)

Proficiency Courses Determined by Placement Examination (0-6 hours)

Either or both of these courses may be required based on the results of the student's diagnostic examinations in music history and music theory:

Keyboard proficiencies are evaluated by the student's primary conducting professor.

Our adjunct faculty bring outstanding professional experience to our programs. Many are industry leaders with decorated careers and honors. Importantly, they are innovative educators who offer hands-on learning to our students to prepare them to enter and thrive in a dynamic, and oftentimes emerging, industry and professional world. They inspire, instruct, and challenge our students toward academic and professional success.

General Application Procedures

  1. Submit through the University’s Application tool (button below):
    1. Submit application with the appropriate fee
    2. Submit official transcripts of all previous college work
    3. Submit three letters of recommendation.
  2. Email directly to the program coordinator of interested area
    1. Additional Requirements (video links, papers, compositions, etc)
  3. By the February 1 deadline
    1. Complete a Student Application (if interested) for a Graduate Teaching Assistantship

Additional Requirements: Audition

Additionally, those seeking a specialization in conducting must complete an audition.

Choral Conducting Audition

Please provide a video of you conducting both a recent choral performance and a video of you rehearsing a choral ensemble. Please contact Dr. Raphael Bundage if you need additional information. or Ph. 615-898-2849.

Orchestral Conducting Audition

Preliminary audition

Please submit the following materials to Dr. Nies ( by February 5.

  1. a fifteen minute online conducting video by link. (Send by dropbox link or other online source)
  2. your resume

On-campus audition

Applicants who pass the preliminary audition will be invited for an on-campus audition.

This will include:

  • Conducting assigned repertoire
  • Score-reading test at the piano
  • Sight-singing
  • Melodic and harmonic dictation test

Please contact Dr. Carol Nies for additional information. ( or 615-898-5318).

Wind Band Conducting

Video Prescreening (required)

The prescreening submission should be between 15 and 20 minutes in length and should include both rehearsal and performance footage in which the applicant is visible.

  • All of the rehearsal footage should show a frontal view of the applicant; preferably edited to highlight segments focused on dealing with specific rehearsal problems of intonation, ensemble balance, technique, style or interpretation. Videos of uninterrupted run-throughs in a rehearsal setting are not considered rehearsal material.
  • One unedited performance of a complete work, preferably the same work featured in the rehearsal video above.  The camera should be positioned behind the ensemble facing the conductor and the conductor should be clearly visible.

Email and attach your video prescreening to, by the December 1 deadline.

Audition (if invited)

  • Repertoire and audition expectations will be discussed at the time the applicant is invited to audition live.

Vocal Conducting / Instrumental Conducting

Applicants who do not pass the audition may be allowed, at the discretion of the faculty, to be admitted with probationary status for one semester and must register for MUAP 5020 - Private Instruction. They must re-audition at the end of their first semester of study. Students who do not pass the audition on their second attempt will be excused from the program.


Proficiency Courses Determined by Placement Examination (0-14 hours)

Either or both of these courses may be required based on the results of the student's diagnostic examinations in music history and music theory:

  • MUTH 5010 - Theory Survey  3 credit hours 
  • MUHL 5070 - Music History Survey  1 to 3 credit hours

Students must also pass a Keyboard Proficiency Exam.

Online or Hybrid Programs at a Glance

This program is available .

For More Information or Explore Your Options​

Contact your department / program coordinator or advisor for more details about the program OR work one-on-one with your advisor to explore your options.

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The Online Advantage​

With over 25 years of experience in online teaching and learning, MTSU Online offers students access to innovative, high-quality programs. Designed with students in mind, our courses allow maximum flexibility for those unable to participate in person. ​

Resources and services for online students are available from MTSU Online or contact us at

Contact Information

Director of Graduate Studies
Dr. Chris Combest

Who is My Advisor?

Director of Graduate Studies
Dr. Chris Combest

Mailing Address

School of Music
Middle Tennessee State University
MTSU Box 47
1301 East Main Street
Murfreesboro, TN 37132

College of Graduate Studies
Middle Tennessee State University
MTSU Box 42
1301 East Main Street
Murfreesboro, TN 37132

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