The Music Department offers a comprehensive music program within the context of a public research university. Our programs benefit from the university’s proximity to major centers of performance and numerous other universities and conservatories. The department regularly brings guest artists and lecturers to campus to offer master classes, workshops, and presentations to meet the needs of students in each of our degree programs.
At the graduate level, students in prepare for careers at the highest professional levels. Academic courses include both scholars and practitioners, giving students a truly interdisciplinary perspective. Our graduate students have gone on to careers in orchestras and to academic positions at renowned universities and conservatories around the world.
The Mason Gross conducting program offers master’s and doctoral degrees in choral, orchestral, and instrumental/wind conducting, providing a rich curriculum of courses spanning performance practice, private instruction, practical research, and hands-on training. Classes are small, and students receive ample podium time. The conducting program supplies students with a firm foundation for a career in music, whether the goal is to perform, teach, or prepare for further study.
The Music Department at Rutgers offers the following conducting degrees:
- Master of music in choral conducting
- Master of music in instrumental/wind conducting
- Master of music in orchestral conducting
- Doctor of musical arts in choral conducting
- Doctor of musical arts in instrumental/wind conducting
- Doctor of musical arts in orchestral conducting
Students receive a weekly 60-minute lesson with their major performance teacher for 12 weeks of the semester. Participation in ensembles through rehearsal, performance, and development of administrative skills necessary for the profession is an essential aspect of the program. Students supplement their professional-level training in performance with courses in musicology, music theory, and music literature.
In addition to presenting a broad repertory in significant venues, the choral program host a vibrant and progressive graduate choral conducting program. Masters and doctoral students regularly present concerts with professional instrumentalists and soloists, conducting Baroque and early Classical works with period instrumentalists and nationally recognized soloists. The year 2019 saw the debut of Passaggio, Rutgers University’s fully funded professional chorus, conducted by the graduate students in the choral area. Graduates of the DMA program in choral conducting hold full-time positions at the University of Arkansas, University of Illinois, Calvin University, Kennesaw State University, Seton Hill University (PA), Seton Hall University (NJ), Wagner College, and Westminster Choir College.
Instrumental/Wind and Orchestral Conducting
The graduate program in wind conducting is designed to be small and highly selective. The program focuses on the advancement of an essential triad of conducting skills: score study, pragmatic rehearsal techniques, and artistic leadership through critical thinking of repertoire. The objective of the master’s and doctoral programs in wind conducting aims to prepare highly competent conductors and leaders able to produce results in a wide variety of professional and academic settings. The immersive environment provided by Mason Gross and its proximity to the New York City and Philadelphia metropolitan areas represent an ideal setting for graduate study in band, choral, and orchestral conducting. Mason Gross effortlessly taps into the vibrant arts scene of the Tri-state area expounding upon the rich history of trendsetting, arts advancement and cultural inclusion. Collectively, the Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Winds, Symphony Band, Marching Band, HELIX New Music Ensemble, and numerous regional professional and community-based wind groups provide an outstanding musical resource for those enrolled in the conducting program. Led by a diverse and distinguished faculty of conductors and artists, the wind conducting program at Mason Gross inspires all students to grow and meet their goals in an inclusive, collaborative, and supportive environment.
Jazz Studies Programs
The Rutgers University jazz program is located less than an hour’s ride from New York City and Philadelphia. The proximity to the New York City jazz scene offers many advantages, including an all-star faculty, and performance opportunities at important New York City venues. The graduate program in jazz studies includes a comprehensive curriculum of jazz improvisation, composition and arranging, jazz historiography, and private lessons with some of the world’s best jazz musicians and educators.
Mason Gross School of the Arts offers the following Jazz Studies program:
- Master of music in jazz studies
This course of study will prepare you for a professional career in jazz and commercial music. The following courses are required for the graduate degree:
- Advanced Comp and Arranging
- Jazz Historiography
- Jazz Ensemble
- Specialized private lessons
- Advanced Improvisation
An all-star faculty has made up of some of the world’s best jazz musicians and educators, such as Ralph Bowen, Conrad Herwig, Victor Lewis, Vic Juris, Kenny Davis, Joe Mosello, Tatum Greenblatt, Eddie Palmieri, Fred Hersch, and Bill O’Connell.
Rutgers Jazz and Chamber Jazz ensembles perform at some of the most important venues such as the Blue Note Jazz Club and Symphony Space in New York CIty. Additionally, they have traveled internationally to Fukui, Japan, and have performed and recorded with Benny Carter (State Theatre, New Brunswick/Music Masters Records) and Ray Charles (Trenton War Memorial Hall/PBS Television).
The Rutgers Jazz Ensemble, directed by Conrad Herwig, is the top student jazz ensemble at the Mason Gross School of the Arts. A recent concert series included a tribute to Charles Mingus, featuring Ku-umba Frank Lacy and a performance at the Blue Note, the eighth consecutive year the ensemble has performed at this prestigious venue. Other concert series featured Michael Phillip Mossman and Joe Chambers. Previous guest artists and clinicians have included Eddie Palmieri, Wynton Marsalis, Frank Sinatra Jr. Jon Faddis, Terell Stafford, Mulgrew Miller, Edward Simon, Benny Golson, Gerald Wilson, Slide Hampton, Tom Harrell, Paquito D’Rivera, among others.
View a full list of our jazz ensembles.
Music Education Programs
Graduate students may pursue master’s and doctoral degrees in music education at Mason Gross. Both degrees offer courses in a flexible format designed to meet the needs of practicing music teachers.
The master in music education is designed to address the needs of music teachers who already hold teaching certification and who are currently teaching in K-12 school settings. MM students are challenged to develop a greater understanding and mastery of music teaching and learning processes, to improve personal musicianship, to become committed leaders within the profession, and to deepen their understanding of critical issues in the field of music education.
The degree requires 30 credits of study, distributed among the following areas: music education, music theory, music history, and electives. Electives allow students to customize the degree to fit their particular interests and needs. Before graduation, all candidates must pass a written examination covering pertinent aspects of music education. No audition is required.
The doctor of musical arts in music education is a research degree designed for professional music educators who seek to expand and refine their teaching and musical skills. Doctoral students in music education broaden their knowledge of current music education research and practice, either to advance in their teaching/supervisory positions or to prepare for a career in higher education.
The degree requires a minimum of 57 semester hours of graduate course work beyond the master’s degree. Courses are offered by the Music Department and the Graduate School of Education and include advanced studies in research, music education, music theory, and music history. Additionally, students complete 12 credits in a cognate area of their choice, such as performance, conducting, musicology, composition, or educational administration. After successfully passing comprehensive examinations, a student’s study culminates in 12 credits of dissertation research leading to a dissertation on a topic related to music education. There is no foreign language requirement.
It is expected that the degree requirements for this program will be completed in five years of continuous enrollment; a maximum of seven years is allowed. Students are not required to maintain a full-time residency but must enroll in at least one 3-credit course each semester.
The graduate program is designed for students who have fully committed to a life in music and are focused on honing their craft before embarking on a professional career. In addition to private study, students can choose from a variety of specialized courses in music history and music theory. DMA students are also trained to pursue the highest level of academic scholarship in addition to musical excellence. There are also numerous opportunities to work on campus, including as a faculty member at Rutgers Community Arts and as a staff accompanist.
In the MM and DMA degree programs, students supplement their professional-level training in performance with courses in musicology, music theory, and music literature. The AD program is more narrowly focused on professional-level training in performance.
Mason Gross School of the Arts offers the following performance degrees:
- Master of music degree in performance
- Master of music degree in voice with a concentration in opera
- Doctor of musical arts degree in performance
- Artist diploma in performance
- Artist diploma in opera
The Mason Gross brass program is designed to provide the highest level of training for young artists and to help them develop the skills needed for a variety of careers in music. The unique nature of Mason Gross enables students to have the advantages of a professionally oriented conservatory program and benefit from the many resources of a large university. Each student receives personalized attention in a supportive community.
Trombone (tenor and bass)
Students work closely with members of our distinguished faculty, which includes members of the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, New York City and American Ballet Theater Orchestras, American Symphony and other ensembles in New York City and beyond.
The Mason Gross keyboard program is designed to provide the highest level of training to young artists and to help them develop the skills needed for a variety of careers in music. The undergraduate curriculum centers on individual private lessons, a rigorous music theory and ear training sequence, as well as a variety of courses in music history and ethnomusicology. Study is further supplemented by chamber music, pedagogy, accompanying classes, and a large offering of liberal arts courses.
The Mason Gross percussion program prepares students for a broad range of career paths. Building on an orchestral core, including timpani and percussion training, the program encourages students to explore Afro-Cuban traditions, as well as contemporary performance practice in chamber music and solo settings.
The Rutgers Percussion Ensemble, hailed by The New York Times for one of “10 Best Performances of 2017,” performs both on and off campus throughout the year and has been featured at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Indianapolis.
The curriculum of the percussion program focuses on development of the orchestral core and allows students to customize their training to address their specific interests in the field. Recent graduates hold orchestral positions, chairs on Broadway shows, and teach around the world.
The four faculty members in the percussion program “team teach,” meaning that each student receives instruction with all faculty members in both private lessons and masterclasses. The faculty work professionally in all areas of the field—orchestral, Broadway, chamber music, and solo performance. They perform regularly with the Cleveland Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, on Broadway, and with new music ensembles throughout the New York area.
The Mason Gross string program is designed to provide the highest level of training to young artists and to help them develop the skills needed for a variety of careers in music. Students work closely with members of our distinguished faculty to refine their craft and develop as musicians. The small size of our program helps to ensure a personalized education for each student as well as a communal atmosphere. Study is supplemented by chamber music, orchestral performance, String Ensemble, pedagogy, and an extensive offering of liberal arts courses. The unique nature of Mason Gross enables students to benefit from the advantages of a professionally oriented conservatory program as well as the many advantages of a large university.
*Note: Fall 2021 applications for guitar are not being accepted.
The voice program aims to foster a genuine understanding of efficient, healthy vocalism that features free vocal production with beauty of tone, optimum resonance, and the ability to effectively communicate thoughts and passion through the delivery of word and music on the concert and operatic stages. Students are trained to become disciplined, compelling artists who are performers of vocal repertoire from all genres with a secure knowledge of musical aesthetics, style, performance practice, and accurate diction. Students may participate in any of the several choral ensembles offered including Rutgers Kirkpatrick Choir, Rutgers Glee Club, Rutgers Voorhees Choir, and Rutgers University Choir.
The members of the voice faculty include pedagogues who are also distinguished artists with careers that feature numerous productions at the Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, Vienna State Opera, La Scala, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Musikverein in Vienna; and many other major national and international venues.
Saxophone (alto, baritone, and tenor)
Our woodwind faculty members appear in the New York and Philadelphia arts communities as members of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Imani Winds, and as freelancers in these and many other ensembles and concerts.