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Department of Music Assessment Overview

Utah State University

We evaluate the effectiveness of our PROGRAMS in several ways:

  1. Ongoing accreditation by national organization
    1. NASM Annual Accreditation Audit
    2. NASM site visit
      1. Every 10 years
      2. Last site visit-March 2013
    3. NASM Plan Approvals for new Programs
      1. BA-Music-July 2016
      2. MM-Choral Conducting-December 2015
      3. MM-Guitar Performance-July 2015
  2. Curriculum Committee
    1. Departmental committee meets regularly to oversee and approve all curricular changes before they are presented to the college and university curriculum committees.
  3. Departmental Ongoing Assessment
    1. In addition to the regular collection and analysis of individual student grades in course work, the department also collects and analyzes jury results and other summative assessments of primary instrument proficiency.

We evaluate STUDENT PROGRESS ON LEARNING OBJECTIVES through both formative assessment (ongoing mentoring, advising, and regular feedback from faculty in the Music Department as well as through feedback from guest artists and teachers) and through summative assessments.

Formal, summative assessment takes place regularly through two independent means:

  1. Completion of courses related directly to the learning objectives/competencies with a minimum grade of C- or above, coupled with a cumulative 3.0 GPA in all music courses, and a 2.75 GPA overall.
  2. Completion of juries, functional skills level exams, proficiency exams, and recitals.

The Music department has agreed that the following equivalencies are to be applied in the evaluation of student achievement:

Disengaged: D or F below 70% (D 60% - 69%; F below 60%)
Emerging: C-, C, C+ 70% - 79%
Developing: B-, B, B+ 80% - 89%
Engaged: A- or A 90% - 100%

Data is analyzed through review of individual grades in each course.

Juries, Recitals, Proficiency Exams, Functional Skills Level Exams

Individual Instruction (Juries, Recitals):

Undergraduate music majors in performance and education are expected to take individual instruction on their major instrument/voice each semester they are enrolled at Utah State University. Undergraduate music majors in music therapy and in the BA degree in music, are expected to take individual instruction on their major instrument/voice for at least the first four semesters in their degree programs. Graduate students in performance or performance and pedagogy are expected to take individual instruction on their major instrument/voice each semester they are enrolled. Graduate students in choral conducting are expected to take individual instruction on their major instrument/voice for at least one semester.

A number of assessments, both formative and summative, are a regular part of the individual instruction courses, both undergraduate and graduate.

Summative Assessments:

Weekly Lessons: Because music majors receive a weekly hour of one-on-one instruction on their primary instrument, instructors have regular and ample opportunity to make formative assessments of each student’s progress. A variety of specific weekly technical and artistic benchmarks are assessed in each lesson. For example, all woodwind students must meet specific technical levels to complete their degrees, and these technique levels are checked at every lesson. In the voice area, skills specific to singing in foreign languages (translating, transcribing, and pronunciation) are assessed at each lesson.

Weekly Studio Classes: In these small groups, usually organized by studio or area (flute, violin, piano, voice etc.), students perform for area faculty and their peers. Students receive immediate feedback on their performances from faculty and peers. These studio classes allow students to practice both the technical and performance skills in a setting that is similar to a jury or recital.

Guest Artist Master Classes: Each year students have opportunities to perform for and receive feedback from outside experts in the field.

Area Recitals: In addition to weekly studio classes, some areas also have weekly recital hours. Music majors perform repertoire they are preparing for juries, competitions, and/or recitals. Students receive verbal and/or written evaluation after the conclusion of the recital from faculty.

Midterm Technical Levels: In many studios, students perform all of the required technical etudes for their upcoming juries at a non-graded midterm level exam. Each student’s performance is evaluated by the instructor or a panel of instructors, and feedback is provided to help her/him prepare for juries.

Pre-Jury Memorization Exams: In the voice and piano areas, where the ability to memorize music quickly and accurately is an important skill, memorization exams are administered at least a month before juries.

Mock Juries: The week before juries, students perform a mock jury that includes all required technical etudes and repertoire. Written comments are provided.

Recital Previews: In most areas, students must pass a recital preview before being allowed to schedule a recital. Students receive written and verbal feedback on their performance.

Formative Assessments:

Proficiency Levels: Proficiency in individual performance on a primary instrument is defined by a series of proficiency levels for each instrument and voice, as define by each area (piano, voice, strings, guitar, woodwinds, brass, percussion) or studio. Proficiency levels are determined by the jury performance at the end of each semester of instrument/voice study.

Level 1 Minimum requirement that must be met by end of first year of instrument/voice study in order to move from pre-music major status into full music major status.

Level 4 Minimum graduation requirement for BA-Music, capstone option.

Level 4 Minimum graduation requirement for BS-Music Therapy

Level 6 Minimum graduation requirement for BM-Music Education

Level 7 Minimum graduation requirement for BA-Music, recital option

Level 8 Minimum graduation requirement for BA-Music Performance

Juries: All music majors enrolled in individual instruction must present a jury at the end of each semester. These juries are graded by a panel of faculty members that includes the student’s individual instructor as well as at least 2 other faculty members. Specific requirements for juries are set by each area (piano, voice, strings, guitar, woodwinds, brass, percussion) or studio instructor.

Barrier Juries: At the end of the third semester of primary instrument lessons, students present a barrier jury. This jury determines whether the student may continue in the major. Students who do not pass the barrier jury with a B or better are discontinued in the major.

Note concerning juries: Although students’ semester grades in individual instruction may reflect ‘emerging’, ‘developing’, or ‘engaged’, the jury alone determines the competency required for advancement from one level to the next in the applied music sequence.

Recitals: All performance and education majors are required to present recitals. Performance majors present a junior half recital and a full senior recital. Education majors present a half senior recital. In semesters where a recital is presented, a jury is not required. Recitals are graded by a panel of music faculty members and are presented to the public.

Keyboard Harmony I & II (Proficiency Exams)


All undergraduate music majors are required to pass MUSC 1170 and 1180 (Keyboard Harmony I, II), either by taking the course or passing a series of proficiency exams whose content is mandated by NASM accreditation standards for 4-year professional undergraduate degrees in music. Completion of the two-course sequence indicates that a student has passed all components of the standardized piano proficiency exam.

These courses are taught in piano labs equipped with electronic keyboards that allow the instructor to listen to each individual student’s playing through a headphone system. The teacher can then assess the individual student’s in-class practice, and provide immediate feedback and practice strategies. The instructor can also use this system to listen to and grade the series of individual exams that are given over the course of the semester, while still allowing the other students in class to simultaneously continue their individual practice. The lead instructor notifies the applied faculty in each case if a student does not pass an assessment with a B or better on the first attempt.

Music Therapy (Functional Skills Level Exams)

The AMTA Professional Competencies are based on what knowledge, skills, and abilities are needed to perform the various levels and types of responsibilities to practice music therapy at a safe and competent level. These include one’s ability to: (1) play a basic repertoire of traditional, folk, and popular song with or without printed music,” and (2) to “accompany self and ensembles” demonstrating proficiency with keyboard, guitar and voice. To assist the student in achieving these competency-based standards, the USU Music Therapy Program requires successful completion of three adjudicated functional skill exams. A required repertoire list of 100 songs will be utilized for preparing theses exams, in addition to required content in music therapy core courses.

Level I Exam is to be completed sometime during the student’s first academic year, but no later than the Friday following Spring Break of that same year. Entering sophomore students must complete this exam by the end the Fall semester of their 1st year in the program. Level II Exam is completed during enrollment in MUSC 2320, Music Therapy Treatment II. Level III Exam is completed as one of the course requirements in MUSC 4310, Music Therapy with Adult Populations, preferably taken the fall of the student’s senior year.

Students who do not pass Level I at their first attempt, may have one additional attempt. However, this exam must be successfully completed by the end of the first year or the student will be dismissed from the program.

Students who do not pass Level II will receive a lower than B- grade for MUSC 2320 and will be required to retake the course. The student is also placed on Probation in the degree program until such time that the course is successfully completed. While on probation, music therapy students are not allowed to continue with academic or clinical coursework.

Students who do not pass Level III will receive a lower than B- grade for MUSC 4310 and will be required to retake the course. The student is also placed on Probation in the degree program until such time that the course is successfully completed. While on probation, music therapy students are not allowed to continue with academic or clinical coursework.

Continuous Assessment for Current Students

Individual course data and cumulative department course data is collected and analyzed annually. The semester databases show percentages of students reaching benchmarks of ‘engaged’(category 1), ‘developing’ (category 2), ‘emerging’ (category 3), and ‘disengaged’ (caregory 4) as indicted by their grades in each course.

Fall 2015 results indicate that 94% of students in music courses were ‘engaged’ (85%) or ‘developing’ (95%), surpassing the department’s goal of reaching 85% of students at the ‘developing’ level or above. For specific percentages, click on the area title below.

Spring 2016 Jury results

Click here for Spring 2016 Jury results.

Post-Graduation Placements

Both undergraduate and graduate degrees in music are based on one-on-one attention and support, during the academic process, and in the years to follow. Applied faculty members keep close ties with graduates and continue to provide career counseling, and in many cases, continue to provide instruction beyond graduation. Individual faculty keep track of their students’ accomplishments after graduation. Below are selected post-graduation student employment, graduate study, and professional activity highlights.

Instrumental Music Education/Performance:

100 % Placement rate in Music Education jobs for those seeking employment in the field.

  • Andrew Nicoll (2016): Director of Bands, Vernal Middle School, Vernal, UT. (2016)
  • Devenie Natoli (2016): String Educator, Ridgeline High School, Millville, UT. (2016)
  • Omar Ordonez (2015): Assistant Band Director, Mt. Vernon School District, Mt. Vernon, WA. (2015)
  • Elizabeth Nelson (2015): Master of Music Candidate, University of Utah (2015)
  • Marianna Cardon (2015): Master of Music Candidate, University of Akron (2015)
  • Emily Ashcroft (2015): Adjunct Instructor of Percussion, Utah State University (2015)
  • Jose Santana (2015): Director of Orchestras, Huron School District, Huron, SD. (2015)
  • Elizabeth Hurren-Benson (2014): MM 2016, Rutgers U. (2016)
  • Tori Hunter (2014): Director of Bands, American Falls HS [ID] (2014)
  • Sarah Keene (2014): Master of Music Candidate, U. of Minnesota (2014)
  • Scott Evensen (2013): MM 2015, U. of New Mexico (2015)
  • Spencer Jensen (2013): Director of Bands, Legacy Preparatory Academy (2013)
  • Diane Jones-Curtis (2013): Band Director, Harris Intermediate School (2014)
  • Whitney Ecker-Mensink (2012): MM 2014, Miami U. [FL]
  • Bridger Burt (2012): Director of Bands, North Sevier HS (2013)
  • Emily Sorensen-Jorgensen (2011): Director of Bands, Highland HS, Salt Lake City, UT (2014)
  • Jared Nicholson (2011): MM 2013 Bowling Green State U., Band Director, Union HS/MS, Roosevelt, UT (2014)
  • Nathan Mensink (2011): MM 2014, DMA candidate, Miami U. [FL]; 1 of 4 finalists for saxophone position in US President’s Marine Band.
  • Kyle Vogele (2010): MM Miami [OH] (2014), Director of Bands, Union County-College Corner Joint School District, Liberty, ID (2014)
  • Brandon Cressall (2010): Director of Bands, Jordan HS, Sandy, UT (2013)
  • Mark Quintero (2009): Director of Bands, Mt. Healthy HS, Mt. Healthy, OH (2014)
  • Samuel Bryson (2008): Percussion Teacher, Weber State U. (2012)
  • Alissa Kirk (2008): Music Teacher, Kuna SD, Idaho (2013)
  • Brittany Ross-Fehr (2009): Music Teacher, Ellis Elementary, Logan, UT (2012)
  • Tayna Seamons-Hortin (2009): Music Teacher, Ellis Elementary, Logan, UT (2012)
  • Mike Benson: Master of Music Candidate, Rutgers University (20??
  • Trevor Vincent: Accepted to seven schools of law. JD Candidate at College of William and Mary

Music Therapy:

The past 7 years of graduates have produced the following:

  • Three graduate students:
    • Colorado State (Ranell Balls Were)
    • Boston University (Alex Greene)
    • Malloy College—NY (Nicholas Farr)
  • Fourteen private practice music therapists: (13 in Utah, 1 in Idaho)
  • Seven full-time music therapists employed at a facility:
    • State hospitals (UT & OR): Brandtley Henderson & Marti Bowles
    • Private MT companies (OH—Christian Porter & Liz Woolley, MN—Ranell Balls Were)
    • School Districts (UT): Caitlin Barney Neuberger & Maddie Hofer Nelson
  • Current Music Therapy Interns:
    • Utah: Primary Children’s Medical Center: Cassie Bringhurst
    • Hartvigsen School: Melinda Barnes
    • University Psychiatric Institute: Kelli Schofield
    • Expressive Therapies of Utah: Sarah Mortensen
    • OH: Rainbow Babies/Cleveland Medical: Jared Campbell
    • MN: Park Nicolette Health Services: Corinne Chadwick
    • OR: Oregon State Hospital: Monica Moser (who is being trained by former USU graduate, Marti Bowles)
    • CA: Music to Grow On: Danielle Keaton
    • NY: Hochstein School of Music & Dance: Kramer Dahl
    • WA: Musicworx NW: Trisha Niebergall

USU Music Therapy students have demonstrated themselves to be well-prepared to compete with other students from around the country for internship placements. Students from our program have been given opportunities at some of the most prestigious national roster internships, such as the Rainbow Babies and University Hospital system in Cleveland, OH. In addition, during our student’s internships, they seem to move forward quicker than what is expected. Typically the first three months of the internship is more observational and co-treating, but our students are frequently given their own case load well before they reach the 3-month mark.


MM Graduates: (100% are working in the field or pursuing doctoral degrees)

  • Luke Hancock and John Price are both completing the Doctorate in Piano Performance degree at the University of Oklahoma.
  • Brooke Hirst, Sherilyn Mann, Aubrey Moeller, and Elizabeth Prettyman are all working in our Youth Conservatory and are adjunct faculty in the piano area.
  • Emily Ezola is employed as Youth Conservatory Coordinator and Keyboard Harmony Director at Utah State University.
  • Emma Welling and Ryan Frazier have a large joint piano studio/music school.
  • Chenggang Wang is completing his Doctorate in Piano Performance degree at the Univ. of Utah.
  • Brandon Lee is teaching as an adjunct faculty member in piano at Dixie State University.
  • Lauren Manning, Krystal Kunz, Mitchell Taylor, and Emilee Yeates have private piano studios.

BM Graduates:

  • Keenan Reesor graduated with a Doctorate from the University of Southern California (USC) and replaced USC piano faculty member Norman Krieger in performances with the Downey, New Beford, Fort Collins, Cheyenne, Coachella Valley Symphony orchestras. He holds a full time faculty position at Southern Virginia University where he teaches Music History and Piano.
  • Kelly Anderson graduated with a Doctorate from USC, was chosen to teach classes in Keyboard Harmony and Piano Literature at USC when his teacher, Stewart Gordon went on Sabbatical. Kelly is on the piano faculty at Pasadena City College.
  • Ben Salisbury graduated with a Doctorate from USC and is currently the Steinway representative for the entire West Coast.
  • Jessica Roderer graduated with a Doctorate from USC and is currently employed as a Temporary Assistant Professor at Utah State University (sabbatical replacement for Dennis Hirst).
  • Adam Nielsen graduated with a Master’s from The Juilliard School and a Doctorate from SUNY: Stoneybrook and is currently employed as accompanist and teacher in Collaborative Arts at The Juilliard School in New York City.
  • Stephanie Rhodes completed a MM at the University of Michigan in 2009. She was Assistant Conductor-pianist for the Houston Grand Opera, rehearsal pianist for Arizona Opera, Bolshoi Theater of Russia, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, LA Opera, Seattle Opera, Tulsa Opera, Utah Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, and received a Fulbright to go to Moscow, Russia in 2013. She is currently working as assistant conductor for Dallas Opera, San Francisco Opera, and Washington National Opera.


  • Gavon Peck, BM in Viola Performance - 2016
    • Now pursuing Master’s Degree in Viola Performance at the Peabody Intsitute of Music, Johns Hopkins University
    • Bowdoin International Music Festival
    • Hot Springs Music Festival
    • University of North Carolina School for the Arts, Karen Tuttle Viola Workshop
    • Sid and Mary Foulger International Music Festival
    • Tuacahn Summer Music Festival
  • Ellyn Thornton, BM in Viola Performance – Projected 2016
    • Presentation at National Conference of the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association of America, Orlando, Florida - November 2015
    • Ongoing internship with Tanner Dance at the University of Utah designing and teaching summer art camps for children with disabilities.
  • Alexandra Cook, BM in Viola Performance – Projected 2018
    • Attended the Zeist Music Festival in the Netherlands in 2016
  • Sarah Knight, BM in Viola Performance – 2014
    • Full Tuition Graduate Fellowship, Arizona State University
    • Bowdoin International Music Festival
    • Green Mountain Music Festival, Vermont
    • Hot Springs International Music Festival
  • Kathleen Bradford, BM in Viola Performance, Cum Laude – 2013
    • Professional placement with Ballet West Orchestra, Utah Chamber Artists Orchestra, and Sinfonia Salt Lake
    • Private Teaching Studio, Salt Lake City
  • Bethany Pereboom, BM in Viola Performance – 2012
    • Assistant Director, Credo Music Festival at Oberlin College
    • Teacher and Performer for Credo Music Community Outreach
    • Master of Music in Viola Performance, Boston University - 2014
    • Full Scholarship to Boston University for graduate studies
    • Montecito International Music Festival
  • Sunny Johnson, BM in Viola Performance – 2012
    • Master of Music in Viola Performance, University of Utah - 2014
    • Member, Rosco String Quartet
    • University of Utah Graduate String Quartet Fellowship Program
    • Winner, National MTNA Chamber Music Competition
    • Robert Mann String Quartet Workshop, New York, NY
    • Julliard Quartet Seminar, New York, NY
    • Deer Valley Emerging Quartets and Composers Program
    • Winner, University of Utah Chamber Music Competition
    • Private Teaching Studio in Salt Lake City
  • Sabrina Romney, BM in Viola Performance – 2010
    • Master of Music in Viola Performance, Colorado State University – 2012
    • Colorado State University Graduate String Quartet Fellowship
    • Winner, CSU Concerto Competition, 3 concert performance tour
    • Second Place, T. Gordon Parks Collegiate Concerto Competition
    • Castleman Quartet Program, Boulder, CO
    • Le Domaine Forget International Music Festival, Quebec, Canada
    • American Conservatory Festival, Fontainbleu, France
    • Member - Cheyenne Symphony, Wyoming Symphony, Greeley Philahrmonic, Fort Collins Symphony (Acting Assistant Principal), Boulder Philharmonic, Boulder Chamber Orchestra



100% Acceptance rate for students seeking admission to graduate programs

90%+ Qualification rate for National YouTube Screening Round of annual National Association of Teachers of Singing National Student Auditions. Students qualify by placing in top 5 in Cal-Western Regional Auditions (California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Hawaii).


  • Tamara Mumford: BM in Voice Performance
    • Leading Roles at Metropolitan Opera (over 150 performances), Los Angeles Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Dallas Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Glyndebourne Festival Opera (UK), BBC Poms, Castleton Festival
    • Featured soloist with New York Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Boston Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Utah Symphony, Santa Barbara Symphony, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
    • Tour with Simon Dudamel Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela with performances in Barcelona, Madrid, Hamburg, Vienna, Paris, London
    • Lindemann Young Artist Development Program-Metropolitan Opera
    • Yale University Opera Program
  • Mary-Jane Lee: BM in Voice Performance
    • Lindemann Young Artist Development Program-Metropolitan Opera (2016-17 final year)
    • Met Opera Orchestra, Desdemona (lead role)
    • Santa Fe Opera, Wichita Opera, Aspen Opera Theatre Center
    • Awards include: Licia Albanese Puccini Competition award recipient, Anna Case MacKay Memorial Award, Prize of Jerry and Nanette Finger Foundation, Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Palm Beach Opera Competition, Dallas Opera Guild Competition
    • MM in voice performance Rice University Shepherd School of Music
  • Jamilyn Manning White: BM in Voice Performance
    • MM in voice performance, Arizona State University
    • Yale Opera Program
    • Leading Roles with New York Heartbeat Opera, Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice, Utah Festival Opera, MidAtlantic Opera, Berkshire Theatre Group
    • Solo appearances with Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Bangor Symphony Orchestra, Hartford Symphony Orchestra, New Haven Symphony,Litha Symphony Orchestra
    • Awards: Jose Iturbi International Music Competition, Palm Springs Opera, Opera Index Competition, Judy Hellam Music Foundation
  • Brianna Craw: BM in Voice Performance
    • MM in Voice Performance, University of Michigan
    • NATS Artist Award Competition, 1 of 6 national finalists
    • USU Adjunct Voice Faculty member
  • Anthony Eversole: BM in Voice Performance
    • MM in voice performance, University of Oklahoma
    • DMA in voice performance, University of Maryland
    • Castleton Festival
    • Maryland Opera Studio
  • David Olsen: BM in Voice Performance
    • Tenured Associate Professor, Voice Area Head, BYU-Idaho
    • MM, DMA in voice performance, University of Oklahoma
  • Ann Marshall: BM in Voice Performance
    • MM in voice performance, Rice University Shepherd School of Music
  • Tennile Spencer: BM in Voice Performance
    • MM in voice performance, Brigham Young University
  • Angela Garrett LeBaron: BM in Voice Performance
    • MM in voice performance, Brigham Young University
  • Samuel Meredith: BM in Voice Performance
    • JD candidate, George Washington University Law School
  • Alyssa Packard: BM in Voice Performance
    • MM candidate, University of Maryland
  • Belen Moyano: BM in Voice Performance
    • Tuacahn Theatre-(2016) Kala (Tarzan) Florika (Hunchback of Notre Dame)
    • Old Lyric Repertory Company-(2016) cast member
  • Kimberly Muhlestein: BM in Voice Performance
    • NATS NSA National Level Semifinalist (1 of 12)
    • USU Adjunct Voice Faculty member

Choral Music Education/Choral Conducting

  • Kevin Diehl: (MM) Director of Choirs, Maple Mountain MS
  • Steve Durtschi: (BM) Director of Choirs, Timpanogos HS; Director of Cantorum Professional Choir; Member, Mormon Tabernacle Choir
  • Jaron Putnam: (BM) MM candidate in choral conducting, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music; Ohio Light Opera
  • Steve Scott: (BM) MM in Conducting, The Ohio State University; Ph.D. in Vocal Pedagogy, University of Kansas; Director of Voices of America Barbershop Chorus
  • Michael Mills: (BM) MM in Conduction, BYU; Director of Choirs, Morgan HS, winner of Brock National ACDA Compositions Contest for his piece, “Crossing the Bar”
  • Lindsay Clark: (BM) Director of Choirs, Farmington HS (New Mexico); Member, Mormon Tabernacle Choir
  • Hillary Emmer: (BM) Director of Choirs, Copper Mountain MS
  • Corey Mendenhall: (BM) Director of Choirs, Mapleton HS, Director of Millenial Choirs and Orchestras


  • Quint Olsen-BM Guitar Teacher in Clark County Nevada public schools (CRAM Guitar Program)
  • Jake Coleman-BM Guitar Teacher in Utah County
  • Julia Mecham-BM Singer Songwriter and Guitar Teacher in Salt Lake City Winner of several songwriting competitions in Utah
  • Dominic Walker-BM USU MM University of South Florida (Teaching Assistant) Guitar teacher in the Rock School program
  • Alfredo Balcacer-BM USU MM Western Michigan (playing in top combos and bands)
  • Nick Manning-BM USU and MM USU Teaching Assistant, Teaching Assistant of the Year Caine College of the Arts. (has gone on to be a seminary Teacher)
  • Pat Boyack-BM First Call Blues Guitarist in Dallas, recording artist, (national and international touring)
  • Jake Robinson-BM Guitar teacher in Utah Public School System
  • Zach Putnam-BM Guitar teacher in Utah Public School System
  • Allie Harris-BM Guitar Teacher in Logan Utah (successful studio)
  • Corey Christiansen-BM USU and MM University of South Florida (University assnt. Professor, Author, recording artist)
  • Jackson Evans-BM Jazz Artist and teacher in Savannah, GA
  • Gavin Nichols- BM USU. Outstanding Guitar Soloist at Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival
  • Brian Levanger BM-Guitar Teacher in Clark County Nevada public schools
  • Nathan Hauck BM USU Concerto Competition Winner. Scholarship to San Francisco Conservatory

Based on the data presently available, the Music Department faculty believe that student progress in our programs meets or exceeds expectations. However, the faculty are continually seeking to improve programs and student outcomes based on data from student grades, from student course evaluations, and from other sources of information (i.e. State Office of Education, NASM, etc.)

Music Core Recent Curricular Changes:

Addition of Music Fundamentals to semester one of the Common Music Core

  • In response to number of low scores on Music Theory Diagnostic Exam administered during entrance auditions in voice area.
  • In response to unacceptably high first-attempt fail rate (grade of D or below) in MUSC 1110 Music Theory I
  • In response to student attrition decisions based solely on troubles with passing Music Theory I
  • Theory I course moved from fall semester to spring semester of freshman year
  • All in-coming pre-music majors required to take Fundamentals in fall semester or pass out of the course through a placement exam
  • Students initially took MUSC 1100 (non-music major fundamentals course), until MUSC 1105 (Fundamentals of Music for Music Majors), a course more specifically designed to help students succeed in Music Theory I, was approved.

Standardization of Barrier Jury for all undergraduate degrees in music

  • One of our missions as the only land grant institution in Utah, is to provide access to education in music to residents of the state. Usually students who wish to major in music come to a music program having already invested many years and considerable financial resources to primary instrument/voice study. Our mission is to allow students who can only meet minimum audition standards because of lack of access (rural communities with no instruction available, and/or lower socioeconomic status) admission into the pre-music program. By the third semester of study (Barrier Jury) students’ progress on their primary instrument is assessed to determine whether their current level of technical and artistic mastery would allow them to successful complete the technical proficiency levels and recital requirements in the requisite number of semesters.
  • Because we are admitting some students who display ‘minimally acceptable’ skill on their primary instrument, because of lack of access to instruction, it is critical that they be given enough time to demonstrate that with access to excellent instruction on their primary instrument, that they can move from disengaged/emerging to developing/engaged by the end of the 3rd semester of study.
  • Students who do not pass their Barrier Jury are discontinued in the program.

New courses for Individual Instruction on Primary Instrument courses:

  • In an effort to better track student progress and success in their Individual Instruction courses (primary instrument), we have submitted new course proposals for 1000-level and 2000-level Individual Instruction (primary instrument) courses for all instruments/voice.
  • Students have previously registered for the same course (Individual Instruction in ______ for Music Majors), a 3000- or 4000-level course for each of their semesters of study.
  • Students will register for the 1000-level individual instruction course during their first 2 semesters of study (Pre-Music Major status). Once they have successfully completed 2 juries, they will be allowed to move to full Music Major status, and will register for the 2000-level individual instruction course. In order to complete the requirements to pass this 2000-level course, the student must successfully complete a barrier jury. Students who do not pass the Barrier Jury may not receive a grade higher than D, and are discontinued in the major. If the Barrier Jury is passed, the student registers for the 3000- or 4000-level individual instruction course for the remainder of the program.

New competency-based exams to assess Computer Literacy in Music.

  • Data showed that students’ inability to register for Computer Applications in Music, because of the limited number of seats available due to the limited number of computer stations with the requisite software/hardware systems available simultaneously for classroom instruction, this course was becoming a bottle-neck where students were unable to graduate in a timely fashion.
  • The department is currently developing an online, self-paced series of competency-based quizzes to assess students’ skills with music notation and recording technologies. Students who do not pass a quiz will be directed to online learning modules for further instruction. Students may repeat each quiz until they have passed it. Students must have successfully completed all module quizzes before their sophomore year.

Piano AreaRecent Curricular Changes:

Several recent curriculum and program changes have been implemented, based on needs that piano faculty have observed:

  • Implementation of a 30-minute sophomore recital for Piano Performance majors, to guide them toward the 50-minute repertoire requirement for the senior recital.
  • Implementation of a barrier jury for sophomore Piano Pedagogy majors, where they can demonstrate their ability to memorize and successfully perform 15 minutes of music, preparing them for the demands of a senior recital.
  • Requirement of weekly submission of practice hours to the piano area head, which are publicly posted with pseudonyms, allowing students to monitor their practice habits and compare them with the other piano majors.
  • The requirement of MUSC 3140 (Musical Form & Analysis), which provides piano majors a more comprehensive examination of formal structure than what is offered in the general music theory courses.

Voice AreaRecent Curricular Changes:

  • Voice Jury forms
    • In better attempts to standardize jury grading from the various faculty, the voice area has tested a series of different jury forms followed by discussions overthe merits and limitations of each.
  • MUSC 2660/2670/2680: Italian/German/French Diction for Singers
    • Difficulties with content organization and outdated scholarship in the traditionally-used texts have prompted the instructor to seek out and implement a more suitable text for the course, redesigning the curricula for each course around a consistent structure that allows for the idiosyncracies of each standard singing language.
  • MUSC 3600: Opera Production
    • To maximize rehearsal efficiency, the instructor creates a rehearsal plan for each week two weeks in advance allowing students to come prepared and use their time effectively.

Music Therapy Recent Curricular Changes:

  • MUSC 1310: Introduction to Music Therapy (2 credits)
    • Student feedback indicated a frustration level over the amount of reading required for the course. One textbook was eliminated and readings were reduced and focused on essential music therapy principles. Scores on exams improved and student satisfaction ratings of the course increased.
  • MUSC 1320: Music Therapy Ensemble changed to Music Therapy Group Ensemble Facilitation (1 credit)
    • This course was changed to music therapy majors only as many different disciplines were previously enrolling, thinking it was a performing ensemble and not having a background in therapeutic principles that frame the material presented. The curriculum changed from a course predominantly teaching one type of music therapy technique (Drum Talk), to including other additional techniques such as drum circle facilitation, blues improvisation, referential and non-referential instrumental improvisation, and some Orff techniques. With emphasis more on facilitation than participation, students are now able to more confidently lead these group music experiences in their future clinical experiences.
  • MUSC 2310: Observational and Behavioral Methods in Music Therapy changed to Music Therapy Treatment I (2 credits)
  • MUSC 2320: Music Therapy Methods & Materials changed to Music Therapy Treatment II (2 credits)
    • In response to students’ feedback about not being able to understand the music therapy process in a comprehensive fashion (theory & practice), a complete re-write of both MUSC 2310 and 2320 took place. Now students experience the theory, paperwork, and intervention practice simultaneously, giving a more complete understanding of what is to happen in therapy and preparing them for practicum the following year. In addition, students often expressed a desire that more session observations took place before they entered practicum, and this is now part of the curriculum in the Treatment I and Treatment II courses.
    • Students are now also required to prepare a Clinical Reference File which is where they keep all of their paperwork and interventions as they progress through the music therapy coursework. It can be thought of as a ‘portfolio’ of sorts. They use this file in practicum during their Junior and Senior years and also take it with them to their internship.
  • MUSC 1185: Group Piano for Music Therapy Majors (1 credit)
    • This course was created to provide piano skill development for those students whose piano skills needed remediation in order to complete the level exams required for majors. Since all music therapy majors are required to complete 4 semesters of private instruction on their primary instruments, this course was designed to be a low-cost option for students to receive the help they need without additional private instruction fees. The focus is on both basic piano skills (scales, arpeggios, chord inversions & progressions) and on the creation of piano accompaniments from lead sheets and by ear. Student feedback has indicated that this course has been helpful for students in gaining practical skill levels on the instrument.
  • MUSC 3331, 3332, 3333, 3334: Music Therapy Practicum (1-3 credits)
    • This course was changed from one course number (3330) to four different course numbers as music therapy majors are required to take it four semesters, with different requirements each semester. Students were having to take the course for different credit hours, which was confusing and caused some problems in their academic records later on if there was an error in the credit hours. This problem is now eliminated.
    • Assignments have been changed to reflect the development of the student as they move from Field Experience (FE) #1 through FE 4, with observation and reflection as the primary element of the first experience, and documentation and literary accuracy in reporting as their final experience in FE 4.
    • With field supervisors evaluating the students in different ways, it became necessary to quantify the grading process. Number values and behavioral definitions are now outlined on the semester evaluations so that supervisors are now unified in their grading procedures, greatly decreasing grading discrepancies.
    • In order to further weight the importance of proficiency in music skills, the practicum grade was re-weighted to represent a greater percentage of points awarded for musicianship skills.
    • Since these quantitative changes have been made, more students have been passing their level exams and student problem areas are now more apt to be earlier identified.
    • A Clinical Field Manual was created to help students have a reference point for all of their required forms/paperwork. This has resulted in more polished and professional documentation as the students prepare to enter the profession.
  • Music Therapy Proficiency Level Exams:
    • Criteria for three progressive level exams were created. In response to student skill deficiencies not being identified until the 3rd and 4th years, level exams were moved up a year so that the level one exam is now a barrier exam to be completed in the first year of the program.
    • To increase student’s ability to transpose with confidence, criteria for playing songs was changed to require 3 and 4-chord songs be played in C, D, E, G, and A rather than just 2 chosen keys. Students now have a more secure knowledge of the chord structure of songs rather than just the chords themselves.
    • To ensure that students have the critical skills of being able to sing in tune with a pleasant tone, and play music in time and correctly, these skills are listed as essential and the student now may fail the level III exam if any one of these skills is not in place at that time.
    • To make sure students know a variety of literature that is most widely utilized in music therapy treatment interventions, they must choose a majority of their level exam songs from a required repertoire list whose songs have been taken from preferences lists appearing in peer-reviewed journals.
    • Level exam scores have now been quantified, with behavioral descriptions of each item on the exam that correspond to a number score. At least two faculty members score the exam and then an average numerical score is obtained and evaluated to determine if the student passes. Feedback on strengths and needs is provided via a letter to the student and these items are reviewed as part of the student’s subsequent exams and developmental process.
  • MUSC 3310 – Music Therapy with Individuals with Special Needs (3 credits)
    • Given that the practice of music therapy has expanded and specialized over the years, this course has evolved from an emphasis on “Music Therapy with Exceptional Children,” to study special needs populations that are being targeted in current research trends. For example, in 2014, the AMTA Research Priority was on Autism. This area of practice is currently one of the five targeted areas in the course. The other four being (1) special education, (2) early childhood, (3) at-risk adolescents, and (4) hospitalized children. Moreover, these areas represent the populations that our students seem to be most drawn to when identifying potential internship sites. As a result, students desiring to focus their internship experience in these populations are better prepared. This change in course curriculum also more fully addresses the AMTA Professional Competencies requiring that students “demonstrate basic knowledge of the potential, limitations, and problems of populations specified in the Standards of Clinical Practice” (7.1) and “the causes, symptoms of, and basic terminology used in medical, mental health, and educational classifications” (7.2).
  • MUSC 3320 – Psychology of Music (2 credits)
    • Student feedback indicated that the textbook which had been used was difficult and “dry” reading. This textbook has been eliminated, and students are assigned reading from recently published research on the psychological, neurological, behavioral, social, and emotional influences of music on the human experience. This has shown greater interest and engagement in course discussions and follow-up assignments.
  • MUSC 4310 – Music Therapy with Adult Populations (3 credits)
    • The course has been expanded to include a clinical emphasis on the use of song and other creative arts expression, such as mandala journaling, to address both student self-awareness and encourage more use of the creative arts in their clinical practica and later professional work. Students compose six original songs for use with adult clinical populations. They may choose to incorporate these songs as part of the repertoire for their Level III Exam, which is now associated with this course.
  • MUSIC 4320 – Music Therapy Research (2 credits)
    • Previously called “Psychology of Music II,” this course not only changed in name, but changed from a sole emphasis on quantitative research designs to a comprehensive study of the research methods/approaches currently dominating the field of music therapy. Students create and design their own mixed-methods study to investigate a personal topic of interest. This experiential provides them with the opportunity to become familiar with the research process, including writing an informed consent, understanding the IRB process, collecting and analyzing both quantitative and qualitative data, and writing the research article suitable for publication. This new curriculum design better prepares the student for graduate studies.
  • MUSC 4330 - Clinical and Professional Issues in Music Therapy (3 credits)
    • In addition to providing instruction on the requirements for obtaining and maintaining the music therapy professional credential, and designing/creating a marketing portfolio, the course has expanded to included topics in advocacy, advanced competencies, and ethical practices. These changes have directly affected the ability of our students and graduates to become involved in leadership positions within state and regional professional organizations. They are more fully prepared to present themselves at the internship experience, and as they move into the professional arena
    • Realizing the relatively high rate of attrition among social workers, counselors, and therapists in all disciplines, the course now includes a dedicated module to explore issues related to, and the need for, a dedicated practice of self-care.
  • MUSC 4340 – Music Therapy Internship (2 credits, P/F)
    • With the many curriculum changes noted above, our students are more competitive and successful in securing internship placements throughout the country. Internship directors have repeatedly provided feedback to this fact. As a result, our students frequently begin the sole facilitation of therapeutic sessions at their internships 4-6 weeks earlier than the average intern will do.