University board OKs music degree

The Board of Trustees gave the music department something to be excited about when it approved a bachelor’s degree program in music.

This degree is new because currently the University offers bachelor’s degrees only in music education and performing arts.

In addition to the buzz about the Marching 100 performing at Super Bowl XLI on Feb. 2, the music department has gained another tool to attract students to its programs.

“I’m very excited about it because already, we have about 12 students who’ve indicated they would like to follow the program,” said Julian E. White, director of bands and music department chair.

The addition of the program may assist in the increasing of enrollment at the University.

White said this change makes the music program “more attractive than ever before.”

In essence, the degree will expand on what some students only touched on in classes such as music theory and history. It will also open more career opportunities in the field.

“Many students aren’t interested in teaching,” White said. “They want education on the research (aspects) of music and a liberal arts base.”

The degree will serve as a medium between the University’s already approved music degrees, which are a bachelor in music education and a bachelor in performing arts.

White said although the bachelor in performing arts is an approved degree, an official curriculum has not been developed and may not be seen until 2008.

“This degree gives students the ability to receive education in another area other than music education or performance,” said John P. Robinson, professor of woodwinds and history.

Students interested in the new bachelor’s program agree that the degree provides many options.

“When I think of it (the bachelor’s in music), I think it has the opportunity to get performance students into top notch (graduate) schools,” Michael Scott, 24, said.

Scott, a music education student from Miami, said he is not interested in joining the new program because he has his goals set on teaching others about music.

Regardless of his focus he said it is a great opportunity for other students.

Shelby Chipman, associate professor in the department of music, said, “It’s a stepping stone for students interested in graduate school (because) they can pursue careers on the business side of music.” He said it creates options for students in fields such as music publishing, producing and coordinating choirs.

White sent an e-mail Jan. 18 to the University registrar with a list of names of students who have agreed to follow the curriculum of the new music program.

Ralph Jean-Paul, a student from Miami, was included on the list. Jean-Paul, 24, said he is optimistic about the arrival of the program.

“This degree will allow me to have one-on-one attention in the classroom,” Jean-Paul said. “I think I perform more effectively as an individual performer, that’s why I chose it.”

He is assured that his strengths are in music performance, in comparison to music education.

“After I’m done with my undergrad, I’m going to get my master’s degree in music performance.”

Jean-Paul said the restraints of the music education program were its obstacles, such as tests.

White indicated the necessity for a bachelor’s degree in music. He said the program will eliminate the need for students to pass tests in order to get certain valuable experiences.

“There are a number of testing requirements that some students would rather not go through, especially if they aren’t going into music education.”

Before the approval of the program, students had to go through tests such as the Florida Teacher’s Certification Examination.

Failing the exam could hinder some students from receiving an internship, which is important in their professional development.

“One advantage is that it doesn’t require additional funding,” White said. This is mainly because the University already has the necessary faculty for the musical instruction the degree requires.

White further explained that the bachelor of arts in music degree program is designed for students who are interested in a liberal arts education with a concentration in music.

Students will gain knowledge of the structure and expression of music and the historical context of musical genres with studies in theory, applied performance, music literature, music history and piano.

Moreover, students will develop advanced skills to apply their knowledge to singing, playing a musical instrument, composing or arranging a musical work.

The curriculum outline offers courses such as Materials and Skills of Music, Choral Conducting and Principles of Applied Instrument. This program requires 120 hours, 72 in the music sequence and 48 others to include 12 hours in a foreign language.

Interested students can contact the Department of Music at (850) 599-3334 for more details.