The Master of Music in Church Music curriculum allows you to extend your knowledge and skills in the professional church musician field.
Shenandoah’s Master of Music in Church Music degree prepares you for a fulfilling career as a church musician. You’ll study with artist faculty who are inspiring performers and passionate teachers, perform in ensembles led by challenging conductors, work with exciting guest artists worldwide and enjoy opportunities for international travel.
We’ll equip you to be a well-rounded church musician with the knowledge and skills to direct music programs for various Christian denominations. We’ll give you a solid background in performance and conducting, along with an understanding of historical and contemporary practices in church music and liturgy.
The curriculum features three specializations—Organ Performance, Voice Performance or Conducting—with courses in service playing, repertoire and congregational song. Two half-recitals are the culmination of your study: one in organ or voice and one in conducting. Supplementary courses are offered each summer through the Church Music Institute, a three-year cycle of classes focusing on liturgical organ playing, conducting (adult, children’s and handbell choirs) and congregational song (hymn and liturgy).
Learn More About This Program
Lead traditional worship as an organist, become a choir director and learn the art of accompaniment.
Church Music is a field that has wide appeal for those who wish to combine a love of music with a career in a church setting. Church musicians work with people of all ages and abilities as they prepare the music needed in worship services. Church musicians possess specialized skills in organ, conducting, voice, children and adult choirs, and service playing. They must understand the role of music in worship and have a thorough understanding of the various denominational liturgies. The training that Shenandoah offers in church music is not focused on any one denomination, and graduates of this program are employed by all major denominations. Most Shenandoah graduates are employed in full-time positions as music ministers or organist/choirmaster in churches with multiple choir programs. Shenandoah Conservatory’s Church Music Institute is held for two weeks each summer as part of a three-year cycle of an intensive study of the skills and knowledge required of a musician working in the church.
Lead traditional worship
You will know how to lead traditional worship as an organist, a music or choir director, studio teacher, or an accompanist.
Teach church music students of all ages and skill levels
We prepare you to work with and teach amateur choirs, no matter how much training they might or might not have. You will not only be able to help your students make music, but also think about and appreciate what and why they are playing.
Work with and train members of clergy
You will also be qualified to work professionally with members of clergy – who often have little or no training themselves – to help them develop their own skills in worship planning.
The Career Services Office provides a comprehensive range of services and resources to assist Shenandoah students in their career search. Services offered include resume and cover letter building, mock interviews, and professional dining etiquette workshops.
Since the core classes are offered in the summer, you can complete your degree with ease. The summer classes have a practical, hands-on approach so you gain experience, not just classroom knowledge.
You will learn:
- musicianship in solo performance
- repertoire for liturgical settings
- how to lead a rehearsal and the music component of a church service
- music theory and music history
- to research, and express ideas in writing
Performance Opportunities and Ensembles
Shenandoah Conservatory produces more than 400 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 20 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.
J. Thomas Mitts
Director of Organ and Church Music; Associate Professor, Organ and Church MusicFull Biography
Application and Audition Information
Admission to Shenandoah Conservatory graduate programs is highly competitive and the audition schedule fills rapidly. Early application and audition registration is recommended.