Query re the most recommendable postgrad method for organists
  • R J StoveR J Stove
    Posts: 302
    As far as I can tell, this subject doesn't seem to have been discussed on the website, save, in passing, in an article by Monsigor Schuler. I'd therefore be particularly grateful for any advice on it.

    Do any members of this forum have any ideas as to what the most recommendable form of postgraduate study would be, in America, for an organist?

    I speak as one who has successfully completed most of the standard organ exams here in Australia (i.e. who is at about the Associate Level under American Guild of Organists criteria); who has been a practicing organist since the 1990s in Catholic churches (mostly though not always the Tridentine Rite); and who has now reached the stage where I'm seriously thinking of wanting to undertake a master's or doctoral degree. Such a degree appears to be totally unobtainable within Australia.

    One problem I can foresee is that I didn't major in music as an undergraduate. My organ training, and most of my acquisition of musical knowledge, came after I obtained my bachelor's degree. Another problem is my possibly excessive age (I'm 46 years old, no ties, willing to move anywhere within reason). As against those factors, perhaps my music-related publications (including two books, one of which has been mentioned by Jeffrey Tucker on this site) might help to compensate for these disadvantages.

    I've heard good things about the Catholic University of America's postgraduate Institute of Sacred Music programs. And on balance I would probably prefer a Catholic institution to a non-Catholic one. But I'm entirely open to suggestions, to say the least. If anyone has any advice I'd be very interested to read it.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    I would like to know this too.
  • Guadalupe
    Posts: 50
    R J Stove,

    I am 45 years old and am nearing the end of my freshman year studying for a Bachelor's in Organ Performance. It's NEVER too late! Although I have a Bachelor's degree in engineering, I had to start over at the freshman level. I don't have any good advice for you -- I just want to cheer you on.

    Mary Thomas
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 749
    R J Stove,

    I don't about the US, but a number of UK Music Departments have 'alternative' entry provisions for a performance-based MMus, e.g. Goldsmiths' and Kings' Colleges in London.

    Regards,

    Ian.
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 749
    Guadalupe,

    Go for it! I did my BMus in my 30's, and some fellow students were very much older than that.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,886
    Don't give up, ever! I had studied organ privately when I was younger, but not for a degree. After acquiring advanced degrees in other fields, I decided to finally get a music degree at the age of 50. A nearby Baptist college with an excellent music program, custom crafted a graduate level organ degree that was paired with an advanced education degree. They also had organ scholarships available. I think many schools would be willing to work with you to achieve your objectives.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    I just realized that this is THE RJ Stove!
  • R J StoveR J Stove
    Posts: 302
    Yes indeed, Jeffrey Tucker, c'est moi. I'm very grateful to all who have made suggestions and/or offered encouragement.

    Must admit, I hadn't even thought of Britain as a possibility; but I'll keep that in mind, although America would certainly be my preference, not least because I know parts of America pretty well, whereas I haven't lived in Britain since 1977 (or visited it since 1990).

    Meanwhile I've asked a similar question to my original enquiry on the Intercollegiate Studies Institute forum. I'll be interested to see what response that elicits.
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 749
    RJ Stove,

    I think it's your kind of publishing and performing track record that music departments have in mind when they speak of alternative entry provisions.

    The advantage of the UK for a music student - and especially for one who practices liturgical music - is London. So many concerts, ensembles, churches, organs, good music departments ... Fees aren't astronomical, even for overseas students, and grants are available from specialist foundations. And you could combine your course with an FRCO. The UK may not be your first choice, but it's worth considering.
  • R J StoveR J Stove
    Posts: 302
    Thank you, IanW. I'm not sure whether at my age I could adjust to life in London - from what I gather, decent accommodation costs an absolute fortune there - and my own preferences, quite apart from the expense factor, lie in the direction of middle-sized cities. Still, it's a possibility to which I shall need to give thought. And if my publishing and performance track record would indeed facilitate an alternative entry provision, so much the better.
  • Dear RJ,
    I received my undergraduate degree (in trombone!) from Catholic U., and studied organ as well. The sacred music program has begun since I left. I believe this year they have a stipend available for someone willing to run music for the campus Masses, etc. Check out NPM.org for that information. If you have specific questions regarding the music dept. itself or the University, feel free to email me at craftondc (at) yahoo.com. I will say that being able to attend Mass regularly at the National Shrine is truly a gift.
    Some other schools to consider:
    Westminster Choir College, Eastman School of Music, Peabody Conservatory, and Indiana.
    Pax,
    Colleen
  • R J StoveR J Stove
    Posts: 302
    Thanks very much, Colleen / pipesnposaune, and I'm sorry it took me so long to respond to your very informative posting. Am particularly grateful for the NPM website and the list of possible colleges. What with one thing and another I've been given a great deal of valuable information in response to my query, both here and at the ISI.org forum.
  • Dear RJ,

    Just thought I'd put in a recommendation from the Midwest...I will soon be completing my MM in church music at the University of Kansas. KU has a very nice organ department, two wonderful organ teachers, Michael Bauer and James Higdon... The department has mostly grad students, and a fantastic Hellmuth-Wolff organ in its own hall. The Catholic aspect of the church music seminars could be better, but in terms of quality, I think it is definitely one worth looking into.
  • BruceL
    Posts: 996
    I'm going to plug the program I am graduating from: The University of Texas at Austin. We have a great new program in sacred music, run by Gerre and Judith Hancock, formerly of St. Thomas Church (Episcopal), 5th Ave. The Hancocks are amazing teachers; they expect a lot, but you will learn a lot if you put things into it. Plus, I can vouch for the Catholic-friendliness of the program: there are a number of us here that are Catholic, and one of my projects with Dr. Gerre has been to plan seasonal liturgies in the extraordinary form (propers, hymns, anthems, organ music, etc.) It has been a great experience for me here, and I will say that the Hancocks have an encyclopedic knowledge of the traditional choral and organ repertoire. Also, the musicology faculty is wonderful here, including a familiar face: Dr. Lorenzo Candelaria, who wrote for the winter issue of Sacred Music. I recommend UT very highly.
  • R J StoveR J Stove
    Posts: 302
    Many thanks, Bruce Ludwick and Santacaecilia. All most helpful. Now all I need to do is organize the process of applying to these various institutions mentioned ...
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,043
    It's true that Universities do not care how old you are for a graduate program. I did my doctorate will into my 40's and there were many older folks there.
    My recommendtions are for some of the schools i know best:
    University of houston (Rober Bates)
    University of Michigan (marilyn Mason, James kibbie, Michelle Johns)
    Universtiy of North Texas (Very comprehensive program)
    University of Chicago

    Also: the Schola Cantorum of Paris
  • marajoymarajoy
    Posts: 781
    The University of Notre Dame has a relatively new Master in Sacred Music program. If you get in, and they accept 8 students a year, it is fully subsidized, and you have an assistantship with a stipend. I am not very familiar with it, but I have heard that while the faculty may not all be "traditionally minded," most of the students are!
    Thanked by 1Jes
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,043
    Well, I will put a plug in for my Alma Mater, the University of Michigan. The sacred music department is very comprehensive, with four organ professors, and of course a world-class faculty. Ann Arbor has the most incredible collection of organs in any town of that size I have seen, including three notable intruments at University. Also, one of the few universities in the world have have two on campus carillions.
    Marilyn Mason has taught there for 53 years!
    Thanked by 1R J Stove
  • JesJes
    Posts: 508
    Hey Rob, Didn't realise you were looking into this!
    Contact me on my gmail. The way you go through a pathway in Aus to this is to do the grad cert but you should be careful to pick the teacher you want. Depending on the masters you then do and where you do it you can get the grad cert and masters done in 2 years or 2.5 years.
    I would recommend you also try to talk to Libby Mitchell who would go far beyond to help you find something right for you.
    Jes