Carthage debuts master’s program in music theatre vocal pedagogy
With hits like “Hamilton” demanding a broader vocal skillset from today’s music theatre performers, Carthage is launching a new graduate program to help quench that thirst.
Recruiting has begun for the first cohort in the Master of Music program in music theatre vocal pedagogy, which begins this fall. Full-time students can complete the program in 10 months.
Professor Corinne Ness, the College’s director of music theatre studies, has spotted a major need for performers who can cover a range of vocal techniques — and instructors who can teach them. School ensembles, in particular, have expanded their repertoire beyond the narrow confines of classical choral music, adding contemporary styles and emphasizing storytelling.
She expects the master’s program to appeal to professionals who want to teach at the K-12 or undergraduate levels, those operating private studios, and even “performers who just want to know how their voice works.”
Carthage’s 36-credit program is designed for graduate students to develop teaching strategies and implement them in supervised settings. Few other schools offer programs with such a comprehensive approach.
“Typically, those looking at graduate programs have needed to make a choice: classical or one that covers everything else,” she says. “There’s a realm where those voice techniques live together — and we can teach it.”
Besides the existing Carthage faculty, Prof. Ness plans to engage instructors from the region’s thriving professional arts community. Master’s candidates can expect to work with vocal coaches, directors, and choreographers from Chicago to Milwaukee.
“Chicago and Milwaukee are both incredible theatre cities,” says Prof. Ness. “We already connect with these communities in our undergraduate program. Connecting with music theatre professionals in the graduate program will give our students even more opportunity to connect with the professional community.”
A practice room in the H. F. Johnson Center for the Fine Arts is being converted to a Vocal Pedagogy Lab. There, students will have access to voice analysis software, microphones, and recording equipment.
The flexible program allows students to enroll either part- or full-time, depending on their schedules. It’s accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the National Association of Schools of Music, and faculty are seeking the additional approval needed to recruit international students.
Financial aid options include a Master of Music Diversity Fellowship, which covers 75 percent of tuition for one student from a historically underrepresented minority, and a grant for Carthage alumni. Paid assistantships are also available for M.M. candidates to provide music direction or choreography for Carthage’s undergraduate music theatre productions.