Master of Music: Voice Pedagogy and Performance (Performance Emphasis)

Program Overview

More students pursue voice study at the graduate level at Westminster Choir College than any other major on campus. A strong and unique double emphasis in voice pedagogy and performance prepares our graduates to find success on the operatic and concert stages of the world, in studio and classroom teaching positions at prominent schools, universities, and churches, and in thriving private voice studios. The process-oriented approach focuses on how, rather than what to sing, enabling students to become the best possible vocal artists and independent musicians.

Curriculum Overview

This voice pedagogy and performance program has two emphases. The performance emphasis entails private lessons, voice literature, opera, vocal coaching, vocal pedagogy, and a full recital.   Studio and performance classes, as well as a number of performance-oriented class options, Opera Workshop, and Opera Theatre, offer frequent performance opportunities. Two fully-staged operas, one with orchestra, are presented each year. Private vocal coaching is available (fee is charged).

Each Performance Emphasis student completes courses in  applied study, voice science and pedagogy, and literature.  Four semesters of applied voice study culminate in a graduate recital. For students whose undergraduate work has not included a public recital, presentation of a 30-minute recital is required before work on the graduate recital may begin.

Please see the Voice Handbook for language requirements.

Degree Offered

  • M.M. in Voice Pedagogy and Performance (Performance Emphasis)

Contact

Margaret Cusack, M.M.T.
Professor and Chairperson
Erdman Hall 26
609-921-7100 ext. 8253
mcusack@rider.edu

Program Website:  www.rider.edu/wcc
Associated Department:  Piano and Voice

Related Programs

  • Music Education
  • Voice Pedagogy and Performance (Pedagogy Emphasis)
  • Master of Voice Pedagogy (M.V.P.)

Faculty

Margaret Cusack (chair) • Professor, Voice, and Chair of Voice and Piano Faculties,  1994. B.M., M.M.T., Oberlin College.
Christopher Arneson • Associate Professor, Voice, 2003. B.A., M.M., Binghamton University; D.M.A., Rutgers University.
Susan S. Ashbaker • Adjunct Professor, Voice, 2006. B.M., M.M., Southern Illinois University; M.M., University of Illinois.
Lauren Athey-Janka • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Voice, 2016. B.M., Boston University, M.M. Westminster Choir College of Rider University.
Dalton Baldwin • Adjunct Professor, Piano, 1984. B.A., Oberlin Conservatory.
Tracy Chebra • Adjunct Instructor, Voice, 1995. B.M., M.M., University of North Carolina, Greensboro.
Elem Eley • Professor, Voice, 1987. B.M., Baylor University; M.M., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Rochelle Ellis • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Voice, 1995. B.M.E., University of Missouri, Kansas City; M.M.E., Westminster Choir College of Rider University.
Faith Esham • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Voice, 2000. B.A., Columbia Union College; B.M., M.M., The Juilliard School.
Harold Evans • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Voice, 2007. B.S., West Chester State College; M.M, Indiana University.
Thomas Faracco • Associate Professor, Voice. 1983. B.M., M.M., Westminster Choir College.
Theodora Hanslowe • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Voice, 2016. B.A. Cornell University, A.D. Peabody Conservatory of Music.
William Hobbs • Assistant Professor, Voice/Opera, 2011. B.M., University of Colorado; M.M., Eastman School of Music.
Nancy Froysland Hoerl • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Voice, 1995. B.A., Moorhead State University; M.M., Westminster Choir College of Rider University.
Katherine Johnson • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Voice, 2006. B.M., University of Calgary; M.M., Manhattan School of Music.
Rachelle Jonck • Adjunct Associate Professor, Voice, 2007. B.M., University of Stellenbosch (South Africa)
Robin Massie • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Voice, 2008. B.M., Westminster Choir College; M.M., Yale University.
Sean McCarther • Assistant Professor, Voice, 2012.  B.M., Baylor University; M.M., D.M., Indiana University.
Mark Moliterno • Adjunct Associate Professor, Voice, 2005. B.M., M.M., Oberlin College Conservatory of Music.
Carolann Page • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Voice, 2008. B.M., Curtis Institute of Music.
J.J. Penna • Associate Professor, Piano, 1996.  B.M., Binghamton University; D.M.A., University of Michigan.
Kathy Kessler Price • Assistant Professor, Voice, 2012. B.A., University of Richmond; M.M., University of Maryland; Ph.D., University of Kansas, Lawrence.
Laura Brooks Rice • Professor, Voice, 1985. B.M., Georgia Southern College; M.M., Indiana University.
Eric Rieger • Assistant Professor, Voice, 2012.  B.M., Eastman School of Music; M.M., Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama
Debra Scurto-Davis • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Voice, 2004. B.M.E., Evangel College; M.M., Baylor University; S.M., University of Michigan.
Elizabeth Sutton • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Voice, 2005. B.A., Bowling Green State University; M.M., College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati.
Sharon Sweet • Professor, Voice, 1999. B.S., Roberts Wesleyan College; M.M., Ithaca College.
Nova Thomas • Associate Professor, Voice, 2004.  B.M., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; M.M., Indiana University.
Charles J. Walker • Adjunct Instructor, Voice, 1995. B.M., University of Delaware.
Sally Wolf • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Voice, 2001. B.M., Kent State University; Artist Diploma, Curtis Institute of Music.
Amy Zorn • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Voice, 1996. B.M., University of Wisconsin, Madison; M.M., Boston University.

Learn more about General Graduate Requirements.

Major Area
Applied Primary Study
VC 641AVoice Primary (3 terms)6
VC 655AVoice Primary (1 term)2
Performance
VC 593Opera Theater1-2
or VC 593T Opera Theater (Tech)
Select two of the following:2-6
Performing in Lyric Theater
Opera Workshop
Grad Voice Rep:Italian/French
Grad Voice Rep:German/English
The Singing Actor: Opera
Opera Auditions: Prep & Tech
Spec Topics in Voice Perf Prac
Voice Science and Pedagogy
VC 723Voice Ped I: Voice Science3
VC 724Voice Ped II: Methods3
Literature I
Select one of the following:3
Seminar in Song Literature
German Lieder
French Melodie
Literature II
Select one of the following:3
Oratorio Solo Literature
Opera Literature I
Opera Literature II
Seminar in Opera Literature
Seminar in Song Literature
German Lieder
French Melodie
Core
MH 731Intro to Musicology3
CR 509Symphonic Choir2
Theory or Music History elective (1 course)3
Core elective (1 course) 1 3
Total Credits34-39
1

 The core elective must be a single, 3-credit graduate-level course outside the student's major area, area of emphasis and/or area of applied study.

2

 Prior to graduation, students must complete at least one year of undergraduate-level study in two of the three major European singing languages (Italian, German, and French).  Students must earn a minimum grade of "C" in these courses.  Grades of "C-" or below are not accepted.

3

 Students are required to present a public recital following approval by the department.  Registration for VC655A is a pre-requisite for the approval.

4

 Students may repeat any individual Performance course for credit (either for elective credit or to satisfy the Performance course requirements).

Plan of Study Grid
Year 1
Fall SemesterCredits
VC 641A Voice Primary 2
CR 509 Symphonic Choir 1
VC 661
German Lieder
or Seminar in Song Literature
or French Melodie
3
MH 731 Intro to Musicology 3
VC 591
Performing in Lyric Theater (VC 591 is suggested as a performance elective)
or Opera Workshop
or Grad Voice Rep:Italian/French
or Grad Voice Rep:German/English
or The Singing Actor: Opera
or Opera Auditions: Prep Tech
or Spec Topics in Voice Perf Prac
1-3
 Semester Credit Hours10-12
Spring Semester
VC 641A Voice Primary 2
CR 509 Symphonic Choir 1
VC 662
French Melodie
or Opera Literature I
or Opera Literature II
or Seminar in Opera Literature
or Seminar in Song Literature
or German Lieder
or Oratorio Solo Literature
3
VC 723 Voice Ped I: Voice Science 3
VC 592
Opera Workshop
or Opera Theater
or Grad Voice Rep:Italian/French
or Grad Voice Rep:German/English
or The Singing Actor: Opera
or Opera Auditions: Prep Tech
or Spec Topics in Voice Perf Prac
1-3
 Semester Credit Hours10-12
Year 2
Fall Semester
VC 641A Voice Primary 2
VC 724 Voice Ped II: Methods 3
VC 593
Opera Theater
or Opera Theater (Tech)
1-2
TH 623
Seminar in Music Theory
or Seminar in Music History
3
 Semester Credit Hours9-10
Spring Semester
VC 655A Voice Primary 2
Core elective 3
Oral exam  
Graduate Recital  
 Semester Credit Hours5
 Total Credits34-39

VC 591 Performing in Lyric Theater 2 Credits

Performing in Lyric Theater offers techniques for the preparation of lyric roles in a theatrical setting. It will develop elements of stagecraft, systematize a process for preparations and exploration, and introduce the working relationship with director and conductor.

Prerequisite(s): Undergraduates, VC 291 and the successful completion of Level II jury, or permission of the Chair.

VC 592 Opera Workshop 2 Credits

Introduction to opera performance. Acting exercises, character development, dramatic exploration and musical coaching culminating in a workshop-format presentation. It is recommended that VC 491 or 691 be taken before this course. This course may be repeated for credit.

Prerequisite(s): Undergraduates, successful completion of the level II voice test or permission of the chair.

VC 593 Opera Theater 2 Credits

This course involves preparation and performance of a role or in the chorus of a fully staged opera production. Open only by audition. May be repeated for credit.

VC 593E Opera Theater (Ensemble) 1 Credits

This course involves preparation and performance of a role or in the chorus of a fully staged opera production. Open only by audition. May be repeated for credit.

VC 593N Opera Theater (Opera NJ) 1 Credits

VC 593R Opera Theater (Role) 2 Credits

This course involves preparation and performance of a role or in the chorus of a fully staged opera production. Open only by audition. May be repeated for credit.

VC 593T Opera Theater (Tech) 1 Credits

This course involves preparation and performance of a role or in the chorus of a fully staged opera production. Open only by audition. May be repeated for credit.

VC 621 Oratorio Solo Literature 3 Credits

A performance course surveying solo and ensemble portions of oratorios, masses, passions, and cantatas from the early Baroque period to the present, with emphasis on appropriate performance techniques for stylistic integrity.

VC 627 Opera Literature I 3 Credits

Study of the development of opera from 1600 through the Napoleonic era (ca. 1815), with emphasis on performance practices, singing styles, libretti, the role of the orchestra, and the historical, political and sociological milieu in which the operas were written.

VC 628 Opera Literature II 3 Credits

Study of the development of opera from the early 19th century to the present, with emphasis on performance practices, singing styles, libretti, the role of the orchestra, and the historical, political and sociological milieu in which the operas were written.

VC 633 Seminar in Opera Literature 3 Credits

An intensive study of an area of opera literature. The specific content of this course will change from semester to semester. Emphasis is placed upon in-depth study of the works of a selected composer or of a specific genre of opera.

VC 635 Seminar in Song Literature 3 Credits

An intensive study of some area of art song history and literature. The specific content of this course will change from semester to semester. Emphasis is placed upon in-depth study of the selected repertoire.

VC 641A Voice Primary 2 Credits

VC 641B Voice Primary 1 Credits

VC 641C Voice Elective 2 Credits

VC 641D Voice Elective 1 Credits

VC 641E Voice Primary 2 Credits

VC 641F Voice Primary 1 Credits

VC 650 Pedagogy Thesis 1 Credits

Under faculty supervision, students design and execute a significant research project exploring an aspect of voice that can be measured and evaluated through the analysis instruments in the Westminster Voice Laboratory. Students with special interests in speech pathology or voice therapy may elect to visit the clinics of medical voice specialists in the area who have an association with Westminster. Students register for this course in every semester or summer term in which assistance is provided by the thesis advisor.

VC 655A Voice Primary 2 Credits

VC 655B Voice Primary 1 Credits

VC 655E Voice Primary 2 Credits

VC 655F Voice Primary 1 Credits

VC 657 Private Coaching 2 Credits

Individual coaching sessions for singers on musical style, interpretation, ensemble, languages, and presentation. Registration for VC 657 involves weekly hour-length lessons and a fee of $1,200. Registration for VC 658 involves weekly half-hour lessons and a fee of $600. Open to graduate Voice Pedagogy and Performance majors.

VC 658 Private Coaching 1 Credits

Individual coaching sessions for singers on musical style, interpretation, ensemble, languages, and presentation. Registration for VC 657 involves weekly hour-length lessons and a fee of $1,200. Registration for VC 658 involves weekly half-hour lessons and a fee of $600. Open to graduate Voice Pedagogy and Performance majors.

VC 661 German Lieder 3 Credits

This survey of the German Lieder begins with its roots in the 17th and 18th centuries and continues into the 20th century. Classes will involve study of Romanticism, including philosophers and poets of the 18th and 19th centuries who were important for German Lieder. The bulk of the class involves in-depth study of the Lieder of the important composers of the genre: Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Robert and Clara Schumann, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Brahms, Wolf, Strauss, Mahler, Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern. Class sessions will involve a balance of lecture, discussion, and student performance.

VC 662 French Melodie 3 Credits

This course is designed as a survey of the song literature of France. Students examine works for voice and piano/instruments by Berlioz, Gounod, Saint-Saëns, Bizet, Faure, Duparc, Chausson, Debussy, Ravel, Messaien, Milhaud, Poulenc, and others, analyzing their relationship to larger stylistic, social, and musicological trends. Investigation will include matters of prosody, scansion, and compositional organization, with particular attention given to matters of text setting and poetic treatment. Special emphasis will be placed on important French language poets whose literary works serve as the basis for this material. Poets will include Baudelaire, Verlaine, Hugo, Rimbaud, Mallarmé, LaForgue, Maeterlinck, and others. Poetic history and form will be covered as well as important composer/poet partnerships. Class sessions will involve a balance of lecture and discussion. Works by both well-known and lesser-known composers will be included.

VC 667 Private Dramatic/Role Coaching 2 Credits

Individual dramatic coaching sessions for singers on operatic role study and/or audition preparation. Students will provide their own accompanists as needed. Registration for VC 667 involves weekly hour-length lessons and a fee of $1,200. Registration for VC 668 involves weekly half-hour lessons and a fee of $600. May be repeated for credit.

VC 668 Private Dramatic/Role Coaching 1 Credits

Individual dramatic coaching sessions for singers on operatic role study and/or audition preparation. Students will provide their own accompanists as needed. Registration for VC 667 involves weekly hour-length lessons and a fee of $1,200. Registration for VC 668 involves weekly half-hour lessons and a fee of $600. May be repeated for credit.

VC 690 Independent Research and Study 1-3 Credits

Students may pursue a special topic for which they have prepared through prior course work. Only one project may be scheduled in a semester. The project may involve 1-3 credit hours. Approval of the faculty sponsor, department chair, and dean required prior to the first day of the semester in which the project is to be completed. Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 required.

Prerequisite(s): graduate standing.

VC 705 Grad Voice Rep:Italian/French 1 Credits

This class is a performance seminar focusing on the synthesis of musical line and linguistic inflection. Elements of tonal color, frequency, vowel purity and rhythm will be practiced in each class session as individual students perform selections from the literature. Repeatable for credit only if space is available AND by permission of the Chair.

VC 706 Grad Voice Rep:German/English 1 Credits

This class is a performance seminar focusing on the synthesis of musical line and linguistic inflection. Elements of tonal color, frequency, vowel purity and rhythm will be practiced in each class session as individual students perform selections from the literature. Repeatable forcredit only if space is available AND by permission of the Chair.

VC 722 Literature for Teaching 3 Credits

A survey of graduated teaching literature for beginning, intermediate and advanced voice students. Literature will be explored that is particularly well-suited to specific vocal issues (e.g. legato, coloratura, staccato, etc.)

Prerequisite(s): VC 723, VC 724.

VC 723 Voice Ped I: Voice Science 3 Credits

Study of voice anatomy and physiology with concentration on respiration, phonation, articulation, hearing and vocal health. Through hands-on experience in the Westminster Voice Laboratory, students explore the physics of sound, the fundamentals of musical acoustics, and acoustical elements that are unique to the human voice. Priority registration is given to M.V.P. majors and M.M. students majoring in Voice Performance and Pedagogy. Other students may enroll on a space-available basis.

VC 724 Voice Ped II: Methods 3 Credits

A comparative study of various pedagogical methods and ideals. A wide range of important historical and contemporary pedagogy treatises is reviewed. Students explore exercises and vocalises for general voice development as well as techniques to address and correct specific vocal problems. Role-playing exercises are used to develop appropriate listening and teaching skills. Class participants begin supervised instruction of a volunteer singing student.

Prerequisite(s): VC 723.

VC 725 Voice Ped III:Tchng Practicum 3 Credits

Communication skills are explored and students develop a systematic approach to studio voice instruction. Each student is assigned at least two voice students (one adult and one teenager) to be taught both inside and outside of class. Emphasis is placed on becoming familiar with all voice classifications and basic vocal literature.

Prerequisite(s): VC 723.

VC 726 Voice Research 3 Credits

Peer reviewed research in voice is evaluated and research methodologies are explored. Class projects include research in historical, qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches.

VC 730 The Singing Actor: Opera 3 Credits

This course entails coaching of selected songs, arias or repertoire from music theater, and techniques for performance preparation through intensive research. A final written project involves a musical and dramatic analysis of all chosen repertoire.

VC 731 Opera Auditions: Prep & Tech 2 Credits

This class will explore the many facets of preparing an audition for an opera role, apprentice program, or competition. At least three to four arias in contrasting styles and languages should be prepared for work in class. Areas to be addressed include vocal and dramatic presentation, networking, resume building, make-up, and photo advice. In coordination with the Office of Career Services, panel discussions with invited guests that will explore specific career-related topics will be scheduled.

Prerequisite(s): permission of the applied instructor.

VC 753 Spec Topics in Voice Perf Prac 3 Credits

Intensive performance coaching and lectures in the form of master classes where performance practice in selected topics will be taught by current faculty or distinguished alumni and specialists in their fields.

Prerequisite(s): permission of the applied instructor.

VC 791 Teaching Internship 2 Credits

Teaching internship with a master teacher(s). The student will teach under faculty observation and supervision, including follow-up private discussion with the observer. In addition, students themselves observe group and private lessons and are given readings, written assignments, and/or projects associated with their own teaching. May be offered on an intensive basis in conjunction with Westminster Summer Session events, such as The High School Solo Vocal Artist and/or Vocal Institute.