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BM Music Performance - Guitar Emphasis

The Guitar Performance degree at Utah State University has a strong legacy and has helped many students become international performers, educators, and writers. USU offers a unique experience for guitar students that transcends style by covering many styles (not just jazz and classical music).

We want our graduates to find THEIR voice but want them to arrive at originality with skills rooted in tradition that reflects dedication to their art. We want them to be original voices that are relevant, authentic and rooted so they will stand the test of time. We will work with students to help them become performers that will outshine the competition because of their work and training.

USU was recently named one of the top 25 programs in the U.S. for jazz guitar studies by Jazz Guitar Online.  Because of strong faculty, history, and dedicated students we have a culture of excellence at USU. If this interests you, please join us.


Professor Corey Christiansen

Assistant Professor

Guitar Program Coordinator

Professor Mike Christiansen

Professor Emeritus

Program Founder

Nate Ostermiller

Faculty Associate

Austin Weyand

Faculty Associate

If you are a guitarist who is a dedicated musician and who wants to be a world-class performer, Utah State University is the place for you. With an approachable internationally-renowned faculty in every style of guitar playing in place, and the program recently named one of the top 25 programs in the U.S. for jazz guitar studies by Jazz Guitar Online, USU can offer a uniquely strong education to its guitar majors.

Performance majors are required, and given the opportunity, to play in guitar ensembles, jazz combos, and jazz big bands, as well as work with large choirs and smaller groups such as duos and trios. We offer styles classes that prepare guitar performance majors to play authentically in blues, and American folk styles. The Fingerboard Theory class accelerates students' knowledge of music theory, advanced jazz theory, and arranging for the guitar. There are many off-campus opportunities and venues to hone the skills that are worked on in class.

View the degree map online in the University Catalog

Man playing electric guitar


In addition to applying for admission to the University, all applicants interested in pursuing a music degree must perform an audition on their major instrument to gain admission into the Department of Music. View specific audition information.

Acoustic Ensembles
The acoustic ensembles at USU play a wide variety of acoustic guitar music. From classical to traditional folk music, these ensembles give students the background they need to be good players and good teachers. Students play important works and arrangements by many of the best composers, arrangers and guitarists in the world.

Electric Ensembles
From jazz to straight up rock n' roll, the USU electric guitar ensembles cover it all. Players in the electric ensembles come from a wide background and are able to display their skills playing not only great arrangements and compositions from top musicians, but also are given a chance to present and play their own arrangements for electric guitars, bass and drums.

  USU Guitar Program Director, Corey Christiansen, is a celebrated guitarist. With several critically acclaimed albums under his own name as well as being a sought-after sideman, he brings a real-world perspective to USU. Many of this students have gone on to be in-demand performers, teachers and recording artists.

USU was recently named one of the top 25 programs in the U.S. for jazz guitar studies by Jazz Guitar Online.

Many of our graduates go on to successful graduate studies, including the graduate program in Guitar Performance at USU, find employment within public school systems, run successful private studios, are recording artists, and find careers within the music industry.

USU guitar students and ensembles have received high praise from top artists around the country and have toured internationally. We strive to give our students the best education and best opportunities available within a collegiate structure.

Successful alums of the program include:

Pat Boyack - Celebrated blues guitarist, recording artist, resides in Dallas, TX.

Dylan Schorer - Fingerstyle guitar wizard, recording artist, studio musician and renowned author.

Sean Haley - Guitarist and studio engineer in Los Angeles.  Sound designer for Line-6.

Brent Wheeler - Head of Guitar Studies at South Plains College in Levelland, TX.

Quint Olsen - Head of the CRAM Guitar Program in Las Vegas, NV.

And many, many others who have had successful careers contributing to music performance and music education.