Performance Concentration

Students focusing their studies in music performance pursue the D.M.A. degree.

The program offers individual instruction in flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon, percussion, violin, viola, cello, piano, voice, and guitar, and is designed for students interested in a specialization in chamber music.

Students take courses specifically designed for performers in performance practice and analysis and may choose from a wide array of seminars in history, theory, and ethnomusicology.

Director: John Musto (

In additional to the general program learning goals, students concentrating in music performance should demonstrate:

  1. An understanding of advanced tonal and post-tonal analytic techniques. (Assessed by First Examination)
  2. An understanding of performance practice in at least two music-historic eras. (Assessed by Second Examination)
  3. Doctoral level competence in their instrument or voice and the ability to prepare and independently program recitals.
  4. The ability to define and research an original topic related to music performance.

Professional development goals for performance students:

  1. Attend professional development workshops (offered every fall semester)
  2. Take Proseminar in Teaching (offered every spring semester)
  3. Compete in national and international competitions
  4. Perform in professional concerts
  5. Attend summer music festivals
  6. Submit proposals and present conference papers at student, regional, and national conferences.

Path to Degree

This is a guide to expected progress toward the DMA in Music Performance. Program policies dictate when certain benchmarks must be achieved for satisfactory progress in the program. All entering students must have completed a U.S. master’s degree or the equivalent.

The degree is designed to be completed in 5 years.

In the first two years, the student should complete all course requirements totaling at least 30 credits.

During the first two years, the student should also complete the First Examination and the language requirement.

In the spring semester of the first two years, the student will perform their first two degree recitals.

By the middle of the second year students should be contemplating possible dissertation topics and, as appropriate, may be advised to undertake at least one independent study with a potential dissertation adviser.

In the third year, students take the Second Examination and, once they have passed it, prepare and submit their dissertation proposal.

The fourth and fifth years should be spent researching and writing the dissertation and also scheduling and performing the third recital, so that the student may defend and deposit by the end of the fifth year.

Academic Year 1


  • Studio Lessons (2 credits)
  • Ensemble (1 credit)
  • DMA Topics (1 credit)
  • 1 or 2 research seminars or introductory analysis courses (3-4 credits each)


  • Studio Lessons (2 credits)
  • Ensemble (1 credit)
  • DMA Topics (1 credit)
  • Baroque or Classical Performance Practice (3 credits)
  • Take the First Examination
  • Give the First Degree Recital

Academic Year 2


  • Studio Lessons (2 credits)
  • Ensemble (1 credit)
  • 1 or 2 research seminars or introductory analysis courses (3-4 credits each)


  • Studio Lessons (2 credits) 
  • Ensemble (1 credit)
  • 20th-21st –Century Performance Practice (3 credits)
  • 1 research seminar, as needed (3 credits)
  • Give the Second Degree Recital

Academic Year 3

  • Take the Second Examination

Academic Year 4

  • Prepare and submit dissertation proposal

Academic Year 5

  • Research and write dissertation
  • Complete and defend dissertation

Curriculum Requirements

A minimum of 60 credits of approved course work is required for a D.M.A. in Performance. Courses will be credited toward the D.M.A. in Performance only if they are part of a program approved by the Executive Officer or his/her deputy.

The following courses are required of all students:

  • Private Studio Tutorial (4 semesters)
  • Chamber Music (4 semesters)
  • Performance Practice Seminars (2 semesters)
  • Three seminars in music studies(music history, theory, analysis, or ethnomusicology)

Browse course offerings »

D.M.A. students must demonstrate a reading and pronunciation knowledge of one language other than English. Students must take one language exam before the end of their first semester in the program.

Learn more about language requirements in the Student Handbook »

First Examination

The First Examination for D.M.A. students in performance is a written examination in music analysis. Students take the examination at the end of their first year in the program.

Students who successfully complete the final exam of the fall D.M.A. topics course are not required to take the First Exam.

Second Examination

The Second Exam aims to determine that the student has the requisite knowledge to be an effective studio teacher at the college level and is composed of a written examination in two parts and an oral examination.

Learn more about examination requirements in the Student Handbook »

The First and Second Recitals are normally given during the student's second and fourth semesters, respectively, and must be completed prior to taking the Second Examination.

Each recital can contain only repertoire that has been approved by the Deputy Executive Officer and must include a 21st century work.

Learn more about degree recital requirements in the Student Handbook »

Students pursuing a D.M.A. in performance are required to complete a dissertation project in two parts:

  1. A written historical or analytic essay on an approved topic, or a scholarly performing edition, with commentary, of a hitherto unedited work (or one for which no satisfactory edition exists), possibly one that could be included in the dissertation recital. The student will prepare the dissertation under the guidance of a member of the doctoral faculty and defend it at an oral examination to the satisfaction of the examining committee
  2. A recital, typically focusing on a repertoire pertinent to the dissertation. The Dissertation Recital is given after a dissertation proposal has been approved and before the dissertation defense is scheduled.

Dissertation Learning Goals

The written portion of the dissertation should demonstrate:

  • Mastery of the scholarly literature relevant to their topic.
  • The ability to conduct original research incorporating where appropriate current theoretical approaches and research methodologies.
  • The ability to reason and write at a professional level.
  • The ability to conceive, execute, and complete a scholarly monograph of substantial length and significant content.

The dissertation recital should demonstrate the student's ability to:

  • Develop a program for a major recital. If appropriate, that program can explore repertoire that forms the topic of the written dissertation.
  • Master that program independently, working out all technical and interpretive challenges.
  • Compose accurate, informative, and well-written program notes for the program.
  • Perform the program at a professional level before a public audience and a panel of adjudicators from the music program

Learn more about dissertation requirements in the Student Handbook »