The undergraduate conducting sequence is open to all music majors and minors and includes a general introductory class, a second level course grouped by genre (instrumental and choral) and a third advanced level course which focuses on rehearsal techniques. Motivated undergraduate students may audit the graduate practicum in conducting, and a select few could participate (conduct) by audition/invitation.
Our undergraduate spring conducting symposium, organized by CNAfME (Collegiate National Association for Music Education), offers a rare opportunity for motivated young conductors to work with a full ensemble and conducting faculty in gestural and rehearsal techniques.
Interested students are also encouraged to audition to become a drum major with the Redcoats, an extremely rewarding experience in music and leadership.
UGA offers cutting edge MM and DMA programs in Conducting. These competitive degrees offer students the opportunity to conduct a broad array of ensembles in preparation for a professional and/or academic conducting career. The art of conducting is examined from the perspective of gesture and movement, score study/analysis/ear training, and rehearsal techniques/teaching. In addition, students learn a broad range of repertoire within social and historic contexts. A focus is placed on contemporary music and the development of the wind band as a friend to living composers.
Conducting majors may receive private lessons each week and participate in a graduate practicum exploring creative movement, aural and score reading skills, history, repertoire and a variety of other musical topics. Graduate conductors have the opportunity to work with our nationally visible athletic band program including arranging, writing, and teaching drill. In addition to working closely with our five full time wind conducting faculty, wind conducting majors also study with our renowned orchestral and choral conducting faculty and collaborate with conducting students from all three genres. The graduate practicum in conducting is co-taught by Professor Cedel, Director of Orchestral Activities, Professor Bara, Director of Choral Activities, and Professor Turner, and focuses on orchestral and operatic repertoires.
Graduate conductors conduct all of the wind bands at Hodgson, including frequent appearances with the Hodgson Wind Ensemble and Wind Symphony. Graduates are also required to read relevant literature in related areas to conducting (brain research, leadership, presentation skills, entrepreneurship, psychology, learning theories, movement/gesture, creativity, etc.) and present a “20/20” presentation (20 slides in 20 minutes) to invited faculty and other students. Annual treks to the Midwest Band and Orchestra clinic in Chicago are sponsored. It is expected that graduate conductors will be published by the time they graduate from the program. This could be an arrangement, transcription, composition, or scholarly article in a peer-reviewed journal.
Graduate conducting students have the opportunity to learn from other conductors in the profession by interacting with guest conductors at Midfest and Janfest and throughout the year. Opportunities to learn from guest soloists and composers are also frequent. The Hodgson Wind Ensemble acts as a “lab band” for undergraduate and graduate composers each semester. This affords the graduate conductor an opportunity to learn fresh ink and work closely with a composer to bring the work to fruition. In addition, Dr. Johnston Turner, as co-artistic director of UGA's contemporary chamber ensemble Rote Hund Muzik, provides opportunities for graduate conductors to work with graduate composers and performers to present new and exciting works for strings, winds, and percussion.
DR. JOHNSTON TURNER ANTICIPATES ONE FUNDED OPENING FOR THE FALL OF 2021.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (AND ANSWERS) ABOUT GRADUATE STUDIES
What do you look for in a Graduate student?
Excellent musicianship is a given–good ear, developed technique and gestural language, good rehearsal techniques, knowledge of history and repertoire. Beyond that? Actionable anti-racism, inter- and intra-personal skills, a willingness to take risks, a hard worker, positive attitude (no whiners allowed), an entrepreneurial spirit, an independent, intelligent thinker and doer, a reader, a team player, a good heart, someone who is interested in and active in areas other than music, someone who will go out and change the wind band world in a significant way. How are you different than everyone else who wants a graduate degree? What needs to change in the wind band world? How are you going to change it?
We in the collegiate wind band world have been and continue to confer many DMA degrees in "wind conducting." Will there be collegiate jobs out there for all of those DMAs? Maybe, maybe not. What makes you special? Talent, passion, and hard work are not enough anymore.
Do I need to have teaching experience to be accepted into the graduate program?
Not a bad idea. But not necessary if there are other things working in your favor (see first answer).
How much podium time will I receive?
Lots. You will conduct all of the wind bands, including the wind ensemble. In the spring semester, graduate conductors run the non-major concert bands. The DMA graduate recital is with the Hodgson Wind Ensemble or with members thereof.
Will I have the opportunity to conduct ensembles and repertoire other than the wind band repertoire?
Yes! Good music is good music, and we don’t have patience for musical snobbery. You will learn orchestral, “new,” (for Wind Ensemble and contemporary chamber ensemble), choral, and operatic repertoire, along with wind band repertoire. This is a comprehensive program.
How are the TA duties assigned?
We don’t like our Teaching Assistants doing a lot of busy work and we try to assign duties that will both contribute to your learning and stretch you in some way. If you want to work with the Marching Band, great. If you don’t want to because you have no experience doing so, you will definitely get that experience. If you want to focus your assistantship on library duties, great. On teaching, great. Yes, there is some moving of chairs and stands, but it’s minimal. Will you be called upon sometimes to go above and beyond? Yes.
What is the “Graduate Practicum?”
The Graduate Practicum is an 8000-level course that is co-taught by Dr. Turner and emphasizes practical experience conducting a variety of repertoires. Guest performers include two rehearsal pianists, graduate small ensembles, and singers. In addition to “getting on the box,” the practicum addresses real world issues by invited guest artists and lecturers, CV and webpage development, navigating tenure, job interviews and auditions, entrepreneurship, writing program notes, engaging audiences, score-study, psychology of leadership, etc. We also do a good amount of atonal sight-singing together, Hindemith exercises, and exercises to help explore gesture effectiveness.
Do you have any suggestions on the application process?
If you submit an application on Decision Desk, and we’ve never heard of you, we won’t give it a lot of consideration. While it’s difficult for some to visit campus (but highly recommended), reaching out via email or Skype is always an option. We are also happy to review video before you submit an application. A Masters or Doctorate degree isn’t just about a 2-3 year relationship. We make a life-long commitment to you. We write letters of recommendation, we make phone calls, we are your strongest advocate – always.
What do you look for in rehearsal and performance footage?
Don't make us sit through 20 minutes of video footage to find your golden moment because we won't. Find that part of your rehearsal and performance recording that you are most proud of and start there. If you want to help us through your edited tape, that's fine too ("It took us 4 more times to perfect it. Here is the best run that day," "I've deleted 10 minutes here," etc.) In the rehearsal video, we want to hear the music improve. In the performance video, we are looking for your connection to the music/musicians. Find those things and submit that.
What about the GRE?
Not required for admittance to the MM/DMA degrees in conducting. BUT, if you do take the GRE and receive a great 'score,' it can make you more competitive for Graduate School awards. (Even though we all know this standardized test doesn't measure much more than how well you take a test)
Do you prefer M.M. or D.M.A. students?
I am increasingly concerned that collegiate 'wind band programs' are producing a lot of doctoral students in 'wind' conducting without serious consideration of the changing environments of higher education (and therefore how our curriculum should change to reflect that), "Director of Bands" positions, and fewer job openings. That isn't to say that we are not accepting D.M.A. students but we are interested in students who are fully aware of these changing environments and are out front of that change in dynamic and practical ways. M.M. students come and get better, get jazzed, and go back to their 'band' programs with more knowledge, skill, passion, and make more money because they have the Masters degree. D.M.A. students also cost us more money. All this to say, we are VERY selective.
What makes the graduate degree in conducting at UGA different than others?
The podium time is key. While you will do a lot of observing, that's not necessarily the best way to learn. The best way is to 'do.' You conduct and teach a lot. We encourage risk and even failure (in a safe environment). That's how you learn the most valuable lessons. You also have the opportunity to conduct a variety of musics, not just band music. You will be in charge of a non-major band at least twice during your tenure. And you will conduct CCE, a contemporary "decolonized" chamber ensemble that breaks down silos of musical genres. Faculty at the Hugh are committed to helping you make connections across your history, theory, and performance courses. You will be encouraged to publish before you graduate. Each time you conduct in public it counts toward your degree recital.