Music Major, B.M.
MSU Denver’s Bachelor of Music degrees with concentrations in performance and composition offer vigorous study of music alongside a strong liberal arts education, equipping students with versatile skills that are highly valued in the broad spectrum of music-related careers.
As a Bachelor of Music major, you’ll enjoy extensive performance opportunities with over 20 different ensembles ranging from choir and orchestra to big band and mariachi. You’ll receive one-on-one private instrument instruction from our celebrated faculty who tailor their instruction to your individual needs. Our 200+ concerts per year - including masterclasses with visiting artists, music festivals, fully staged operas, and faculty recitals - will expand your musical perspective.
Our Jazz and American Improvised Music performance concentration is unique amongst jazz degrees, embracing folk and popular music alongside traditional jazz. As part of the close-knit community of jazz students at MSU Denver, you will master genre-spanning improvisation techniques, opening the door to a wider variety of performance opportunities.
If writing music is your passion, our composition concentration provides a solid foundation of classical and jazz music theory while building your skills in arranging, orchestration, conducting, performance, and music technology to broaden your career opportunities as a professional composer.
The Department of Music also offers:
Benefits of Earning Your Degree at MSU Denver
With state-of-the-art performance venues and internationally recognized professors, the Department of Music at MSU Denver serves as a leader in the education of performers, teachers, and music industry professionals and offers the best higher education value in Colorado. Our diverse curriculum flows through classical, jazz, commercial, and world music to help you navigate the broad range of opportunities that exist for the 21st-century musician.
MSU Denver’s music faculty are among the finest performers, scholars, and educators in the nation. Each brings a commitment to and passion for music education that creates a rich, familial atmosphere to foster student success and achievement.
Our location in vibrant Downtown Denver places you in the heart of the city’s rich and diverse cultural district. We provide ample performing opportunities both on campus in the beautiful King Center Concert and Recital Halls, and off campus with concerts at Dazzle, the Mercury Café, and more. You’ll have the opportunity to perform in fully staged operas, musicals, and festivals hosted annually on campus like the Viva Southwest Mariachi Festival and the Mile High Jazz Festival. We partner with organizations such as the Colorado Wind Ensemble and the Playground Ensemble to give you experience working with professional musicians.
The Music Department at MSU Denver is an accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Music.
Career Opportunities for Our Graduates
The Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018 Occupational Outlook Handbook lists $28.15 as the median hourly wage for performance musicians. As a B.M. graduate, you’ll have myriad opportunities for music performance and music-related jobs. Here are examples of median annual salaries for music-related positions according to careersinmusic.com.
- Arranger $54,400
- College, Conservatory, or University Music Teacher $50,934
- Composer 40,452
- Conductor $49,435
- Film Music Editor $45,764
- Instrument Repair and Restoration Specialist $49,779
- Music Therapist $50,934
- Opera Singer $70,000
- Orchestrator $62,377
- Private Instrument Teacher $42,910
- Session Musician $54,600
- Songwriter $65.280
- Sound Designer $40,827
Hear from our students:
“The music program at MSU Denver gave me an in-depth education in areas like music theory and musicology, which helped prepare me for graduate school and for a career as a music teacher. As a student, I gained great performing experience by playing with MSU Denver’s wind ensemble, the symphony orchestra and the jazz combos.”
Samuel Young (MSU Denver '09) is a drummer and percussionist and is pursuing his Ph.D. in composition at the UCLA Herb Albert School of Music.
Director of Guitar Studies
Alex Komodore is a Denver-based virtuoso guitarist. His powerful interpretations, formidable technique, and natural musicianship have won unanimous praise from prominent international critics, audiences, and many of the world’s finest guitarists. A tireless and dedicated servant and teacher of his craft, Komodore has judged in many of the world’s most prestigious Guitar Festivals and Competitions, including the Portland International Guitar competition, the Denver International Guitar Competition, the Greater Victoria Performing Arts Festival, and the Guitar Foundation of America International Youth Guitar Competitions. He has been invited to teach at many International conservatories throughout the world. Winner of the 1985 MTNA Collegiate Artists Competition, his subsequent appearances on National Public Radio and PBS Television broadcasts brought swift national acclaim. A much sought-after soloist, chamber musician, and orchestra soloist, his performances and master classes have taken him across the United States, Canada, Portugal, Greece, Turkey and the Dominican Republic. Showing rare versatility, he has performed as a guitar, theorbo, mandolin, and tenor banjo soloist with many of the finest orchestras across the U.S.
Directo of Piano Studies
Dr. Jooeun Pak has appeared as a soloist, chamber musician, and a champion of contemporary music, performing throughout the U.S., Korea, Italy, Jordan, and Germany, including Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall and Terrace Theatre in the Kennedy Center. A highly in-demand collaborative pianist and chamber musician, Pak has performed with winners of the Metropolitan National Council Audition and the Tchaikovsky International Competition. She is a passionate advocate of creative interdisciplinary projects and actively commissions and premieres compositions of our time. She earned her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Piano Performance and Literature from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.
Director of Jazz Studies, Assistant Professor, Jazz Voice & Piano
Pianist/Vocalist/Composer Dawn Clement has established herself as one of the most sought-after musicians working today. With her joyful presence, consummate technique and distinctive sound, Clement has gained the attention and respect of musicians, critics and fans through the US and abroad. “In all this world of jazz, there are very few individual voices, no matter what the instrument, but Dawn has come up with a voice that’s unique…” says legendary jazz trombonist Julian Priester. She has released five albums and has appeared as side woman on Jane Ira Bloom’s latest release Wild Lines and Emi Meyer’s Monochrome. With her newest release, Tandem, she explores the magic of musical pairs with some of her closest musical cohorts. This “Wonder Woman of Seattle,” (Paul DeBarros, Seattle Times) has recently relocated to Denver to join the MSU Denver faculty as Assistant Professor.
Director of Voice Studies
Dr. Bradley Thompson, lyric baritone, serves as the Director of Vocal Studies at MSU Denver. His students have appeared with several opera companies in the region and have received recognition in the Boulder International Voice Competition as well as competitions sponsored by the National Association of Teachers of Singing and Classical Singer magazine. His own operatic repertoire spans over ninety performances of some thirty different roles. He has appeared with many orchestras in the Rocky Mountain region, and he made his Carnegie Hall solo debut in 2015. Dr. Thompson is renowned for an evidence-based teaching style which seeks to impart the necessary technical growth to help a student unlock their instrument’s potential.
Director of Composition
Dr. David Farrell’s music has been performed by ensembles across the United States, including the North/South Chamber Orchestra, the Playground Ensemble, the Indiana University Symphonic Band, the University of Iowa Center for New Music Ensemble, and the University of Illinois Chamber Orchestra as winner of the University of Illinois Orchestra Composition Competition. His works have been featured at the Sam Houston State University Contemporary Music Festival, the University of South Dakota’s “60/60” concerts, and the Midwest Composers Symposium. Farrell earned a DM in Composition from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.
“Our teachers made you believe you could have a career. Being exposed to musicians who are working… that gives you a really realistic picture of what you could be doing. It’s inspiring to be around that.”
Melissa Wimbish, MSU Denver ’05, is an opera singer who has been praised by The New York Times for her “stylish singing.” She made her Kennedy Center recital debut in 2011 and her New York solo debut recital at Carnegie Hall in 2016. She is the winner of the 43rd Annual National Association of Teachers of Singing Artists Awards.
Alumni at Work
Graduates of MSU Denver’s Bachelor of Music degree program perform as artists across musical genres, manage recording studios, teach at the elementary through college level, serve as music and choir directors and operate their own private-instruction businesses. Among the institutions that have accepted B.M. graduates for post-graduate study are Regis University, the University of Colorado Denver and UCLA.
As an MSU Denver Bachelor of Music major, you’ll receive private instruction, hold recitals, participate in ensembles, and take courses such as:
- Basic Conducting
- Arranging & Orchestration
- Electronic Music Composition
- Musics of the World
- Jazz Improvisation
- Basic Music Technology
See the full course sequence:
Facilities and Resources
As a Bachelor of Music major, you’ll study and perform in the King Center on the Auraria Campus. This modern performing arts complex houses top-of-the-line educational facilities and performance venues including the 520-seat concert hall with a stage accommodating a 150-piece orchestra, the more intimate recital hall, a theatre, a recording studio, a music and dance studio, and numerous production studios.
You will also be studying on a campus within walking distance of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and many music venues.
MSU Denver is an accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Music.