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School of Music

Flute students play in rose garden

About the School of Music

The University of South Carolina School of Music has established a national reputation for artistic and scholarly excellence. An acclaimed faculty teach more than 500 undergraduate and graduate music majors, including students specializing in virtually every orchestra and band instrument, voice, piano, organ and guitar.

At the USC School of Music the power and promise of music have no limits.

We prepare musicians for professional careers and leadership in music teaching, performance, composition, research and related fields, offering more than 20 degree programs.

Students pursuing nonmusic degrees participate in our ensembles and classes every year. All university students can gain meaningful music experiences through courses designed to foster an awareness of the role of music in society.

The school generates research and other creative activities in music that have local, national and international impact. The excellence of the school is a direct result of the resident faculty members who combine distinguished backgrounds as performers and scholars with a dedication to teaching.

USC music faculty perform regularly on campus, nationally and internationally in recitals and concerts; contribute to publications and professional organizations; and make presentations at regional, national and international conferences.

The USC School of Music serves as a cultural and educational center of excellence for the state of South Carolina and the nation. Faculty members and their students engage in community outreach activities by organizing and teaching workshops, classes, camps and clinics. The School of Music enriches the musical life of the university and the city by offering more than 300 concerts and recitals a year.

USC School of Music Vision 2025

The USC School of Music seeks to be a model public higher education music school for America.

To be a model public music school our unit must:
•    Be the music school that our students and our university require;
•    Be the music school that our state requires;
•    Be the music school that our art and our society require.

To achieve this vision, the School of Music has articulated its core values and has initiated a planning process to fully embrace these values by recognizing goals and actions that manifest the values, and to do so over the next ten years, 2015–2025.

Our core values:

Excellence - A School of Music cannot be a model without being musically, academically, and artistically excellent. We observe this value by hiring only excellent faculty; recruiting and admitting only excellent students; conducting our work in excellent facilities; creating, delivering, and partnering with excellent programs at our exceptional university; and by expecting excellence in student achievement.

Student success - At the USC School of Music, we invest in the success of every student. We do not assume that some students will fail – we instead commit ourselves to assisting every enrolled student to achieve success. We realize this value by seeking to bring each and every student to our standards in all that we do and all that we expect of them, and by offering students choices and opportunities to realize success that our competitors do not.

The following three values distinguish us and combine with the two traditional ones above to make our five core values that propel us toward our vision.

The Preparation of Music Leaders - The USC School of Music acknowledges that for our budding professional musicians, should they wish to make their lives and careers in music, they will need to be prepared with more than just purely musical and traditional academic skills and dispositions. Our students must be skilled music leaders to ensure that they advance the quality of life in the communities where they live by helping to make others happier, healthier, more hopeful, and more fulfilled through the power of music. A School of Music – wide culture fostered since 2008 by the work of the nation’s first public university music leadership institute, Spark: Carolina’s Music Leadership Laboratory, makes possible the preparation of tomorrow’s music leaders by assuring their participation and learning in four distinct but interdependent sub-­‐disciplines: 1. Community Engagement experiences; 2. Leadership training; 3. Entrepreneurship activities; and 4. Advocacy education. We observe this value by insuring that in their degree programs professional music students gain: documented and assessed community engagement experience through either the school’s award-­‐winning Music For Your Life programs or in other community endeavors; training in the principles and ethics of music leadership; participation in and creation of entrepreneurial projects in music that expand their imaginations, require deep collaboration, and help them create new personal and professional behaviors; and instruction in and experience with the necessity of making a case for music through music advocacy coursework.

The Preparation of Musicians as Educators & Educators as Musicians - The USC School of Music has long been a leader in music education, realized in effective teacher training programs, specific elite instrumental and vocal pedagogy programs at all levels, and by renowned research and scholarship on music teaching and learning. We value the role that all of our professional music students ultimately play during their careers as teachers and educators in music and we have designed courses and programs to maximize these roles.

We also value the proposition that all teachers and pedagogues must be excellent musicians and able to demonstrate that excellence as a part of their teaching—we actualize our commitment to this proposition by advancing choices for realizing musical skills through teaching activities in applied music, large ensembles, chamber music, and through academic coursework in music.

The Preparation of Diversely Skilled Musicians - The USC School of Music recognizes the changing world and marketplace for professional musicians who wish to make music their life’s work and we value the necessary skills we feel our graduates will need to improve and sustain, in music, their own lives and the vitality and fulfillment of persons in their communities. We observe this value by offering our students both instruction in and experiences with making music in diverse ways; opportunities to utilize a variety of musical skills beyond performance, composition, writing, and teaching; work with persons from diverse populations in their community engagement activities; and by offering programs that contain such features.

Our Mission

Music is an essential component of the human experience. The University of South Carolina School of Music exists to transform lives through excellence in music teaching, performance, creative activities, research, and service. Toward these ends, the school endeavors to meet five tenets:

  • prepare musicians for professional careers and leadership in music teaching, performance, composition, research and related fields
  • serve as a cultural and educational center of excellence for the State of South Carolina and the nation
  • generate research and other creative activities in music that have local, national and international impact
  • provide meaningful music experiences for all University students through courses designed to foster an awareness of the role of music in society
  • enhance the University of South Carolina’s commitment to become one of the finest public universities in America

School of Music Hallmarks

  • The School of Music is peer-evaluated to be among the most highly regarded music schools and conservatories in the U.S. and is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music.
  • The world-renowned Conductors Institute of South Carolina has been on the must-do list for young aspiring and experienced conductors alike. Students of the institute receive training from conductors and composers with vast experience in the commercial, academic and professional worlds of music.
  • The nation's first and most comprehensive leadership institute, the innovative Spark-Carolina's Music Leadership Laboratory, provides students with the entrepreneurship, community engagement and music advocacy education they need to forge successful and meaningful careers in their communities.
  • The USC String Project is a model of community service and teacher education for more than 40 other universities across the nation.
  • Our graduate piano pedagogy program is evaluated annually and rated among the top three such programs in the nation.
  • The annual Southeastern Piano Festival is a high-level training platform for young pianists who take part in a rigorous week-long program with master teachers and concert pianists, culminating in the Arthur Fraser International Concerto Competition.
  • Our commitment to new and contemporary music is distinguished through innovative, award-winning programs and the commission of new works every year. Faculty commitment to performing and teaching music of our time is realized through Southern Exposure New Music Series, Chamber Innovista, the experimental music studio xMuse and New Voices concerts by student composers.


University of South Carolina Hallmarks

Located just two blocks from the historic Statehouse in the heart of Columbia, South Carolina, the university’s flagship campus is in the middle of a thriving mid-size city that is abundant with cultural and entertainment opportunities.

Three four-year campuses in Aiken, Beaufort and Upstate (Spartanburg and Greenville) and four two-year campuses in Lancaster, Sumter, Salkehatchie (Allendale and Walterboro) and Union, help the university cover the state.

  • Designated as one of the "100 Best Values in Public Education" by Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine, USC also ranks among U.S. News & World Report's best national public institutions.
  • The Princeton Review cites USC as one of its "100 Best Value Colleges for 2011."
  • The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching recognizes USC as an institution with "very high research activity."
  • The Columbia campus offers 324 degree programs through its 14 degree-granting colleges and schools to more than 25,000 students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries.
  • Students have been awarded more than $13.9 million for national scholarships and fellowships since 1994.
  • Faculty generated $218.8 million in funding for research, outreach and training programs in fiscal year 2010. The University of South Carolina is one of only 63 public universities listed by the Carnegie Foundation in the highest tier of research institutions in the U.S.