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Finding the right graduate program

Hello everyone. I am having a hard time finding the right kind of graduate degree for me. I want to find a program that will help me grow as a choral conductor. However, I also don't want to give up my elementary teaching job to do it, nor do I want to take an exceedingly long time to get it done.
Locally, I have two options. One option is quick inexpnsive and has good mentors. However, in order to complete the program, I would have to take a 50% leave of absence from my job. Financial consequences aside, I am currently a full time elementary music teacher at one building. It's not good to risk giving that up and being relegated to a traveling position. Option two is a program where all the coursework is done in the summer, but the program takes five years to complete and is hugely expensive. it is even more expensive to earn the degree than it is to take the classes a la carte.
I need some other options. Here is what I am looking for in a graduate program:
-Face time with a skilled mentor who would help me improve my conducting skills and rehearsal technique, with an emphasis on choral music.
-Completion of my program in 2-3 years.
I don't need the program to be top tier, but I would like something high quality. I understand that a mixture of online and traveling may be required to do this. Do you have any thoughts?
Replies (8): Threaded | Chronological
on July 29, 2014 3:45pm
Where do you live?
on July 29, 2014 4:16pm
Hi Seth,
I took the Master's course at Vandercook over three summers. It's a MMusEd degree, so it may not have as much conducting time as you would like. You could take Choral Conducting and Band Conducting during the 2, six week residencies. For individual lessons, you could ask to work on conducting with one of the teachers. In the third summer, the school offers conducting specific MECAs (week long courses). I took one with James Jordan. There's another with Alan Hightower that's on regular offer. Those would be conducting specific (intensive) times.
Good luck with your decision,
on July 29, 2014 6:03pm
Shenandoah University (Winchester, VA) has a summer graduate program designed for working educators.  They also offer financial aid as part of the deal.  I would strongly recommend you contact them and see what they could offer you.  My wife acquired both her Masters and Doctorate in this way.
on July 30, 2014 7:41am
Hi Seth,
In your research, you should also look at Michigan State University's choral conducting summer program.  They offer a 3 summer (6 weeks/summer) Masters in Choral Conducting degree.  This program would fit the time frame you are looking at and it is also choral conducting specific. 
Good luck!
on July 30, 2014 8:35am
Email Dr. James Daugherty at University of Kansas and ask him what they have to offer regarding a summers-only masters program for choral music educators: jdaugher(a)  OK to say that I recommended you to contact him.
If this is possible for you, the program is absolutely top-flight educationally.
Be well, Seth.
on July 30, 2014 9:38am
Hi Seth,
Check out the program at Westminster Choir College, where the Master of Music Education program is designed for summer study. It includes music education courses, music core courses, choral ensemble performance, and a self-designed focus proposed by the student to the department.
There are no choral conducting classes specific to this curriculum, but your electives can be chosen from the intensive (1 week) choral conducting offerings from Westminster's summer continuing education workshops.  This summer's offerings can be seen here:
Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.  I can connect you with someone in admissions or with a faculty member in the graduate program, if that would be helpful to you.
all good wishes,
Jane Nowakowski
on July 31, 2014 8:38am
Thank you all! I'm very appreciative of all the advice you've given me. It helps me narrow my focus.
on October 19, 2014 1:15pm
Lynchburg College offers a Summer's only MA in Music - Choral Conducting.  It offers an intense 6 week study.  Voice, conducting lessons, lab. choir along with the required courses.  I am halfway through ...feel free to contact me if you want more info.
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