USC Thornton announces five new master’s degree programs

USC Thornton announces five new master’s degree programs
  1. USC Thornton announces five new master’s degree programs
    The school is adding the programs to stay ahead of major changes in the music industry, dean…
    Education & Family

The USC Thornton School of Music is unveiling five new master’s degree programs in contemporary teaching practice, music industry, community music, arts leadership and screen scoring.

The degrees are a response to seismic changes in the music industry and in the music teaching and learning climate.

“We are trying to innovate our way ahead of the changes,” said Robert Cutietta, dean of USC Thornton. “Master’s degrees traditionally expand what you learn as an undergraduate. These five programs are designed to teach students new skills and to take their passions for a wide variety of music and turn them into new ways to imagine a contemporary music career.”

The programs vary in length from one to two years, and some are low-residency, allowing students to keep existing jobs while they pursue coursework. Contemporary teaching practice and music industry will begin classes in May; the community music, screen scoring and arts leadership programs will begin in fall 2018.

Three of the degrees — in community music, contemporary teaching practice and screen scoring — are designed for students who hold undergraduate degrees in music performance or composition and want to expand their musical toolkit. The master’s degree in arts leadership accepts students with a bachelor’s degree (not necessarily in an arts-related field), but expects students to have three to five years as a working artist. Music industry will accept students without a previous music degree, but with a professional interest in music supervision, live concert promotion, music entrepreneurship or the recording industry.

All five new degrees are the products of faculty committees taking serious looks at skills needed by musicians in business, education and community engagement.

Laura Reynolds is the director of education and community engagement for the Seattle Symphony. The new master’s degree in community music is ideal for the kind of work Reynolds does. (Photo/Dario Griffin) Kaleidoscope is a conductor-less chamber orchestra directed by Benjamin Mitchell, center. He earned a graduate certificate in arts leadership, which is now a master’s program at USC Thornton. (Photo/Dario Griffin) Production Club, a company founded by Corey Johnson ’09, creates elaborate sound and light environments for music festivals. The new Music Industry's master's degree will give students a base in production and promotion. (Photo/Midnight Hour Studios) Ross Lindly ’16 was hired by Apple Music before he even finished his undergraduate music industry degree from USC Thornton. He eventually joined a music technology startup. (Photo/Dario Griffin) Foshay Learning Center teacher Vince Womack ’98 plays a jazz standard while members of the Foshay Jazz Ensemble listen. USC Thornton’s new master’s degree in contemporary teaching practice emphasizes versatility in teaching. (Photo/Dario Griffin) Enlarge to see additional images

Cutietta has emerged as one of the nation’s leading voices for reimaging music education. In addition to challenging his own faculty to create degrees that reflect current realities in the musical landscape, he has written and spoken widely on the topic.

Arts leadership

The arts leadership degree is aimed at artists, arts administrators and cultural entrepreneurs who want to expand their personal vision and create a life and career for themselves in the arts. The degree takes advantage of the significant resources of all six arts schools at USC: music, art and design, architecture, dance, dramatic arts and cinematic arts, and graduates will be equipped to create and lead their own ensembles, programs and arts organizations around the world.

Community music

Combining skill sets in music education, community engagement and advocacy, the four-semester Master of Music in Community Music is focused on bringing music instruction and performance into non-traditional settings, such as prisons, hospitals, senior living communities and centers for marginalized and disadvantaged people of all ages. It’s a growing career option for musicians looking to move beyond the classroom or concert stage to explore service-oriented work.

Contemporary teaching practice

For those interested in music teaching and learning in K-12 schools, the contemporary teaching practice degree will help them face a changed academic environment. Teachers now need to be nimble as classrooms become more culturally diverse and music learners’ tastes and expectations continue to diverge from the traditional instruments, ensemble types and repertoire of the Western canon.

In collaboration with the USC Rossier School of Education, the degree provides a credential path for graduate music students who wish to teach in a variety of K-12 schools in California and beyond. The curriculum will give graduates the tools to lead a choir, orchestra or marching band in the morning, and jazz sextet, a cappella group or mariachi band in the afternoon. They will be equally prepared to teach a school’s Advanced Placement music theory course and electives in keyboarding, electric guitar or songwriting.

“We see an opportunity for supplementing and enhancing traditional school programs that only feature big ensemble programs,” Cutietta said. “A wider varie…

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