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School of Music

Organ Performance & Sacred Music Studies

Overview

BM and MM degrees with a Sacred Music Concentration

At the undergraduate level, students can study sacred music with a concentration in organ or voice. At the graduate level, students have the option for either organ or choral conducting. Dual-concentrations are sometimes possible, but may require additional time to complete the program. We also offer the Certificate in Advanced Performance Studies (CAPS), This program is a highly focused one (occasionally two) year program, and applicants must have earned a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent from an accredited college or university. Details about the CAPS program can be found here.

Our programs in Sacred Music prepare students for careers as soloists, teachers, and church musicians; and for advanced studies at the Graduate and/or Doctoral levels. Students benefit from the high level of individual attention they receive from their applied teachers, a situation that allows for a personalized approach to learning. The elective courses offered in our program area include: organ, service playing, organ literature, Philosophy & Practice of Sacred Music, History of Sacred Music & Worship, Sacred Music Internships, and Organ pedagogy. Class sizes are small, and opportunities for creative learning are many. Music making outside of the School of Music, most often at an area church, allows students to put into practice the skills and concepts they are taught in the classroom. This cooperative experience helps each student carry into the field concepts learned in the classroom, and gives the faculty an added opportunity for mentoring and development of sacred music internship projects. The high number of practicing church musicians on our faculty allows students to learn by observing their professors in the roles of organist, conductor, composer, singer, and liturgist. Regular departmental field trips, master classes by visiting artists, "organ crawls," and attendance at conventions of the American Guild of Organists and the Organ Historical Society ensure a forward thinking and nationally aware outlook. Equally important is the fact that the program supports an ethic that emphasizes the pursuit of knowledge, skill, wisdom and independent thought while maintaining support for and respect of one's colleagues. In this manner the program seeks to model the kind of healthy working relationships and high personal, musical and intellectual goals that we hope will mark each student's life upon leaving ECU.

BM Performance, Sacred Music Audition information

Organ Concentration:

Performance of solo literature representing three contrasting historical and stylistic periods (memorization optional); performance of a hymn of the student's choice, which may or may not include a special introduction or re-harmonization; 

Performance of solo literature representing three contrasting historical and stylistic periods* (memorization optional), plus a hymn 

  • a work by J.S. Bach 
  • a work from the Romantic era 
  • a modern work (post 1960) 
  • a hymn of the student's choice, which may or may not include a special introduction or re-harmonization 
Sight read a brief passage of music using manuals and pedals. 

*Please feel welcome to contact the faculty if there are questions about specific audition pieces.

Vocal Concentration:

Two selections: 1 English and 1 Italian, memorization required. See Vocal Studies website for more detailed information regarding the audition.

MM Performance, Sacred Music Audition Information

Organ Concentration:

Performance of advanced solo literature representing three contrasting historical and stylistic periods* (memorization optional), plus a hymn 

  •  a work by J.S. Bach 
  • a work from the Romantic era 
  • a modern work (post 1960) 
  • a hymn of the student's choice, which may or may not include a special introduction or re-harmonization 


Sight read a brief passage of music using manuals and pedals. 

Entrance/placement exams will also be administered in Aural Skills, Theory, and Music History

*Please feel welcome to contact the faculty if there are questions about specific audition pieces.

Choral Conducting Concentration:

Prepare and discuss a self-edited anthem-octavo of your choosing as well as "Like as the hart desireth the Waterbrooks" by Herbert Howells. Your discussion of these pieces should focus primarily on formal organization, stylistic background, rehearsal strategies, and overall dramatic affect. Be prepared to sing and/or play excerpts of these pieces to illustrate points during your discussion. Conduct one of the university choral ensembles in a 15-minute rehearsal of the above repertoire.Diagnostic sight singing, score reading, and aural acuity session with Dr. Andrew Crane.

Audition Dates

Upcoming audition dates: Please visit the School of Music homepage.

*An audition can be scheduled by appointment under some circumstances. Please contact the faculty as needed.

Talented undergraduate music students at East Carolina University are supported by a large scholarship program with awards available from $1000 to $8,000, renewable for up to four years. In addition to general School of Music scholarships, those with outstanding academic backgrounds who apply to the Honors College are eligible for additional awards. There are also five endowed scholarships in Sacred Music/Organ, for which students can be considered on a case-by-case basis. It is important that applicants not miss the application deadlines for scholarship consideration. (Honors College: November 15. School of Music Undergrad: March 15, December 1 preferred; School of Music Graduate: February 1 of each year, for admission to ECU the following Fall) Graduate Assistantships are also available in the areas of organ, voice, choral conducting, and accompanying. These awards provide valuable opportunities to gain experience in teaching and performing, while underwriting a great portion of the cost of a student's graduate education. There are also numerous opportunities for church employment in the area and faculty regularly assist students in finding suitable church jobs. Out-of-state students may be considered for a limited number of out-of-state-tuition-waivers. Graduate applicants, particularly out-of-state applicants, must not miss the February 1 deadline in order to be considered for a full aid package.

BM and MM in Performance, Organ

Those whose ultimate goal is a career in university teaching and performing may wish to choose Organ Performance. While this does not eliminate the possibility of a career in sacred music, it does place more emphasis on public performances and pedagogical knowledge than the sacred music concentration, and is a logical choice for those who wish to concentrate their energies on developing the highest degree of skill in their playing. It should be noted that several sacred music courses are required for the performance major, and most performance majors are actively involved in church music during their time at ECU. Furthermore, there is an equally high standard expected in the playing ability of those in the Sacred Music track. The faculty works with each student to help them determine their educational and career goals. Students who choose the organ performance degree take full advantage of our diverse and gifted faculty, aiming for a balance between performance studies (applied organ, harpsichord, piano, historic performance practices) and academic courses (research projects, counterpoint, specialized music history courses, among others). We believe that both degree tracks provide an excellent foundation for further graduate work, and offer as proof news of our recent graduates seen elsewhere in this web site.

 The School of Music has a gifted and active performing faculty and a rich concert series, including The Fisk on Fourth organ recital series. Our students perform for each other each and every week in our Organ Studio seminar, a requirement for all students registered for applied organ. This class allows students to develop confidence in performing under pressure, learn & hear a broad spectrum of music, and hone their skills in speaking eloquently in public about music the related arts. ECU organists regularly perform recitals for American Guild of Organists chapters throughout the southeast USA. The School of Music's annual Concerto Competition is open to organists and several recent students have been finalists and prizewinners in the AGO’s NYACOP and RCYO, the MTNA Collegiate Competition, Poister Competition and the Metropolitan Music Ministries Organ Competition. A number of ECU students have been awarded the E. Power Biggs Fellowship by the Organ Historical Society. Students are regularly invited to play in masterclasses for the world’s leading artists, both in our area and in prestigious venues such as the AGO National Pedagogy Conference.

BM in Performance, Organ Performance, Audition Information

Performance of solo literature representing three contrasting historical and stylistic periods* (memorization optional), plus a hymn 

  • a work by J.S. Bach 
  • a work from the Romantic era 
  • a modern work (post 1960) 
  • a hymn of the student's choice, which may or may not include a special introduction or re-harmonization 


Sight read a brief passage of music using manuals and pedals. 

*Please feel welcome to contact the faculty if there are questions about specific audition pieces.

MM in Performance, Organ Performance, Audition Information

Performance of advanced solo literature representing three contrasting historical and stylistic periods* (memorization optional), plus a hymn 

  • a work by J.S. Bach 
  • a work from the Romantic era 
  • a modern work (post 1960) 
  • a hymn of the student's choice, which may or may not include a special introduction or re-harmonization 


Sight read a brief passage of music using manuals and pedals. 

Entrance/placement exams will also be administered in Aural Skills,Theory, and Music History 

*Please feel welcome to contact the faculty if there are questions about specific audition pieces.

Audition Dates

Upcoming audition dates: Please visit the School of Music homepage 

*An audition can be scheduled by appointment under some circumstances. Please contact the faculty as needed.