New Music Direction Degree Offered by Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts

Aug. 3, 2015

New Music Direction Degree Offered by Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts
Webster students performs in Carousel under
the guidance of a music director

ST. LOUIS - The National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) has granted approval for Webster University to offer a new Bachelor of Music degree in the Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts. The program emphasizes Music Direction for Musical Theatre and will be among the first undergraduate program – if not the first undergraduate degree – in that subject area in the United States. 

“We are delighted to be at the forefront of a new generation of training in the intersection of musical performance and theatre.  We believe this new degree is the first of its kind in the United States — a music-intensive undergraduate degree in how to create and lead music in the musical theatre art form,” said Jeffrey Carter, chair of the Department of Music and degree program head. “Saint Louis is a superb theatre town, and we’re enthusiastic about partnerships not only with the Muny, but with other local and national companies that present musical theatre at a high level.”

Carter said he is aware of several graduate-level programs that focus on music direction, but is not aware of any undergraduate programs. In its accreditation survey, NASM officials gave Webster University’s program high marks and also complimented the University for “forward thinking” in creating an undergraduate program in music direction.

The approval for the new program was received in late July, Carter said, and already is attracting regional attention.  The first students for the new degree will be accepted in fall of 2016. Enrollment for the program is currently open.

“This is incredibly exciting.  I’ve always thought that Webster is in a perfect place to launch an innovative degree, especially in times of change in theatre in this country,” said Michael Horsley, music supervisor for The Muny, which performs musicals in Forest Park every summer. “This particular new program is a forerunner of a new breed of training in theatre and music.

The Music Direction degree wasn’t the only program approved by NASM at Webster. The organization also granted approval for the long-standing Bachelor of Music in Composition program to offer a new emphasis in Songwriting.  That program – also known as the “songwriting degree” by some on campus – is currently enrolling students and will start this fall. That degree was announced earlier this year, along with numerous other programs in other departments, schools and colleges at Webster University. A full list of all the new programs can be found online at http://news.webster.edu/academics/2015/new-programs-added-in-2015.html.

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