The Bachelor of Music in Musical Theatre Accompanying curriculum at Shenandoah Conservatory prepares talented pianists to be collaborative performers with singers and instrumentalists in all styles of popular musical theatre.
The degree, which is the first of its kind in this field, focuses on the complete range of musical theatre repertoire from operetta to current pop rock. Students perform as members of the pit orchestra in main stage musicals and plays as well as senior repertoire and showcase coursework.
Musical Theatre Accompanying focuses on your development as a pianist and prepares you to work professionally in the stylistically diverse musical theatre industry. In addition to the core music theory and literature classes, you will study traditional piano and musical theatre repertoire and techniques every semester in private lessons with one of Shenandoah’s artist-teachers. And you will receive an additional sequence of private lessons in jazz piano.
Shenandoah’s musical theatre program is the nation’s oldest and one of its most successful, and Shenandoah Conservatory is one of the country’s only schools to offer an undergraduate degree in accompanying.
By the time you graduate, you’ll have had opportunities to play for up to three musical productions each year, as well as several chances to accompany solo vocal artists and play for auditions, classes and other music ensembles.
Minor in Music, Theatre, Dance or Music Composition
Shenandoah Conservatory offers minors in Music, Theatre or Dance for all Shenandoah University students.
Shenandoah also offers a new minor in Music Composition for conservatory students who wish to build composition skills and enhance their creative music-making experience while pursuing other degree programs in the conservatory.
Acceptance into conservatory minors must be approved by the Division/Department Chair, and some minors require an audition.
Declaring A Minor
Shenandoah students work with their Academic Advisor to declare a minor. Academic Advisors will continue to work with students to ensure that they fulfill all of the requirements to complete the minor.
Incoming students should not indicate their intended minor on their Shenandoah application; applications are for intended majors only.
Graduates of this program are perfectly positioned to enter the professional world or pursue a graduate degree in Shenandoah Conservatory’s Master of Music in Conducting program with a musical theatre accompanying emphasis.
Upon graduation, your musical theatre accompanist skill set will be diverse enough for you to work professionally in any genre you choose, including: operetta, pre-golden age, golden age, contemporary, pop and rock. You will also be fully prepared to accompany staging and dance rehearsals, play piano or synthesizer for performance, and be equipped to pursue a graduate degree.
We fully prepare you to enter the professional world of musical theatre or pursue graduate studies in musical theatre conducting—Shenandoah’s Master of Music in Conducting with a musical theatre emphasis is one of only a few such programs in the country.
Our professional music degree also contains significant components in both theatre and dance. Our focus is on specialized work in musical theatre styles, techniques and history, supported by traditional music studies and hands-on experience in both acting and dance.
You Will Learn:
- How to arrange for and accompany musical theatre rehearsals
- The history and repertoire of American musical theatre
- Acting as a tool to enhance your stage presence, including acting through song
- Dance technique and vocabulary to inform your understanding of the dance elements of a musical production
- An extensive repertoire and technique through serving as the class pianist for musical theatre courses
Learning support services are available to all students in every course at Shenandoah. Free peer tutoring with a student who has previously succeeded in the course is available for any course across the university. The Writing Center is available for every stage of the writing process from thesis development to proofreading and bibliography assistance. The Math Enrichment Center is available for math and science assistance. Professors and Academic Advisors across the university also have office hours and open door policies to ensure Shenandoah students succeed academically.
Performance Opportunities and Ensembles
By the time you graduate, you’ll have had opportunities to play for up to three musical productions each year, as well as several chances to accompany solo vocal artists and play for auditions, classes and other music ensembles. And you’ll have had the opportunity each year to be a part of our Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre, a professional company that produces four musicals over a ten-week season every summer.
Shenandoah Conservatory produces more than 300 performances each year. Enroll in a dynamic curriculum and start preparing for a meaningful career in the arts. You will practice your craft in front of audiences and develop a plan for your professional launch into the industry that focuses on your personal desires and aspirations.
Embrace extensive performance opportunities with top-tier facilities from theatres, concert halls and dance studios. Unite with fellow artists and join an alumni family that takes center stage from Broadway to the concert halls of Europe.
Shenandoah Conservatory is home to more than 30 performing groups — including instrumental, vocal, and dance ensembles — that present numerous performances every year. These performances take place throughout Shenandoah University’s vibrant campus on its various stages, including a concert hall, recital hall, proscenium stage, black box studio, outdoor amphitheater and more, to venues and performance spaces in the Northern Shenandoah Valley and around the world. Ensembles constantly engage with Shenandoah’s dynamic faculty and an array of distinguished guest artists through residencies, workshops and unique performance opportunities.
Experience the world-renowned Shenandoah Conservatory. Study with master teachers – more than 100 professionals in music, theatre, dance and arts management.
Shenandoah Conservatory’s prestigious faculty is dynamic, creative, and passionately committed to the highest levels of artistic excellence. A deeply caring community, they mentor students with a wealth of professional expertise, balancing rigorous expectations with compassion and wisdom. At Shenandoah, you will study with, and perform for, award-winning composers, Metropolitan Opera singers, Grammy Award winning conductors and international competition winners. You will learn from leading scholars in music and premiere works created by accomplished dance artists and cutting-edge directors. Shenandoah Conservatory’s faculty embodies the highest levels of professional accomplishment and the deepest commitment to furthering the artistic growth and creative aspirations of students in every discipline.
Harold Herman Chair in Musical Theatre; Associate Professor, Theatre; Music DirectorFull Biography
Application and Audition Information
Shenandoah University works on rolling admissions. Applications are reviewed individually and holistically.
Submit your application, review required admissions materials, and find our admissions standards.
Admission to Shenandoah Conservatory is highly competitive. Not only must students be academically admissible, they must also complete and pass the mandatory audition/portfolio review and interview process. Audition dates are limited and may fill and close well in advance of the audition date.
Acceptable Instruments for This Program
Not all majors are suitable to fit every instrument. Below are the acceptable instruments for this program.
- Piano (classical and jazz)
Make studying abroad the highlight of your college experience! Whether you go for a year, a semester, or just a few weeks, you will never forget learning in another culture! The Center for International Programs is here to help you plan your study abroad experience. Start your planning early to ensure the courses you complete abroad count toward your degree and you graduate on time.
I traveled to Bhutan on the GCP trip! It was really eye-opening to see such an economically underdeveloped country be so prosperous in its inter-citizen community, and be more advanced than Western culture in teaching that you don’t have to be monetarily wealthy to live a happy life.”
Catherine Lupien ’19 | Musical Theatre Accompanying
Global Experiential Learning (GEL) Program
The Global Experiential Learning (GEL) Program offers Shenandoah students a short-term, faculty-led, study-abroad experience for academic credit. These short-term, credit-bearing, faculty-led programs are offered winter break, spring break, and during the summer. If a course is not within your major, it might be used as an elective.
My favorite part of my GEL trip was visiting Avignon in the south of France. I loved the historic and calm atmosphere, as well as visiting a local food market outside of the area marketed towards tourists. The entire town was beautiful and felt like a home. I also loved visiting the papal palace there and taking part in their VR experience! I went on the trip because I have a passion for learning languages, and wanted to experience the cultures first-hand. I also used my French and my Spanish skills very frequently on the trip, which was great because here I don’t necessarily have a lot of opportunities to do that outside of class.”
Catherine Lupien ’19 | Musical Theatre Accompanying
Shenandoah University is a member of the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP), a global network of 300 universities. This partnership allows students to study for a full semester or year at other member campuses abroad. By working closely with their academic advisors and the study abroad advisor, students can take classes taught in English abroad while receiving Shenandoah credit.
Shenandoah University also maintains direct partnerships with several universities around the world. These relationships allow students from SU to study abroad as exchange students and students from these universities to study at SU. All partner universities offer courses taught in English.
Fast-Track to Arts Management
Accelerated PALM Program
The Master of Science in Performing Arts Leadership and Management is designed to provide future performing arts executives and artistic leaders with the industry skills required in the 21st century.
The accelerated program in Performing Arts Leadership and Management is available for current Shenandoah Conservatory undergraduates who, upon completion of their undergraduate degree, wish to obtain a Master of Science in Performing Arts Leadership and Management in just one year. Students who are accepted into the accelerated program will begin to take arts leadership and management courses during their undergraduate studies and register for internship during the summer between senior year and their final year of graduate study.