Master of Music (MM) in Performance

The Master of Music in Performance program at Boston University provides training to highly advanced instrumentalists and vocalists, focusing on the study and performance of solo repertoire as well as chamber music, orchestral, wind ensemble, choral, and/or opera repertoire. The program includes study in music theory and musicology as well as elective courses in areas such as diction, orchestral excerpts, new music, historical performance, pedagogy, and literature for specific instruments and voice. The intensity of study in the School of Music set within the College of Fine Arts is further enhanced by the extensive cultural offerings of the city of Boston, providing exposure to Boston’s resident and touring soloists and professional performing ensembles, and drawing guest artists who frequently present master classes in the various vocal and instrumental majors.

MM in Performance students must take a minimum of 12 credits of applied lessons (maximum of 14 credits). The 12 credits must be taken over four semesters of study, with no more than 4 credits per semester. No more than 2 credits of extra applied lessons may be applied to the degree as elective credits. Students must take at least 6 credits combined in music theory and musicology. Please see the Performance Studies Policies and Procedures document on the School of Music website. Approved music elective courses may include ME, MH, MP, and MT courses numbered 500 and higher. PDP courses, e.g., tennis, dancing, or yoga, do not count as approved music electives for graduate students. Students in all Master of Music programs must pass comprehensive examinations in their area. These examinations are normally given in the fourth or final semester of study.

Students in Master of Music programs who are interested in pursuing a double major should speak with the chairs of both intended areas of study and then consult with the Director of Graduate Studies to work out details of the combined programs. A petition to the Graduate Studies committee is required for approval.

Learning Outcomes

At the completion of the program, students are expected to demonstrate:

  • Performance techniques and skills in the area of concentration.
  • Knowledge and skill in related fields such as music history and literature, musicology and ethnomusicology, and pedagogy.
  • Skills in verbal and written communication of musical ideas and concepts.
  • Artistic judgment and skills for navigating the professional world.

Performance Majors

  • Bassoon
  • Flute
  • Percussion
  • Tuba
  • Cello
  • French Horn
  • Piano
  • Viola
  • Clarinet
  • Harp
  • Saxophone
  • Violin
  • Collaborative Piano
  • Oboe
  • Trombone
  • Voice
  • Double Bass
  • Organ
  • Trumpet

Each student is assigned to a member of the faculty for private instruction. Individual instruction is given in one-hour lessons. Every effort is made to consider the student’s preferences in studio assignment.

Degree Requirements

The MM degree is granted upon successful completion of a program of study, a comprehensive review, and terminal projects appropriate to the student’s field of specialization. Students must earn a minimum of 32 course credits with grades no lower than B– in graduate-level coursework. All degree requirements must be completed within five years of the date of matriculation.

Participation in musical organizations is a vital component of the graduate programs in performance. All MM Performance Majors in Strings/Harp, Brass, Winds, or Percussion are required to participate in BU Orchestras (MP 500/600 A1) and/or BU Wind Ensemble (MP 502/602 A1) as assigned, in each of their first four semesters of study, regardless if they have earned the required four credits in fewer than four semesters.

Proficiency Examinations

All entering Master of Music students are required to take a proficiency examination in the area of music theory. The examination is administered online before the start of classes. Incoming students are notified of the exam dates and contents in advance and are responsible for taking it by the specified deadline. Exam results are used for purposes of advisement and may establish prerequisite or required coursework. Material covered in this examination is commonly presented in most undergraduate degree programs in music. No retakes of the exam will be permitted.

Required Courses

Any deficiencies identified by the proficiency exams must be addressed as soon as possible, regardless of whether or not the student plans to take other courses in these areas. Students may not take advanced graduate courses in a particular area OR graduate until all deficiencies have been addressed. Prerequisite and other required courses may include:

  • CFA MH 401 Graduate Music History Review
  • CFA MT 401 Graduate Music Theory Review
  • CFA MT 601 Analytical Techniques 1
  • CFA MT 602 Analytical Techniques 2

Terminal Projects

Two recitals are required, each containing a minimum of 60 minutes of music. Exception: string bass majors may elect to give one recital and take three mock auditions in lieu of the second recital.

Master of Music Comprehensive Reviews

A satisfactory comprehensive review or examination is required for graduation. The faculty in each major area determine standards for this review and its format, and conduct the evaluation. In each case, the comprehensive review concentrates on the major area and other related fields. Unsatisfactory performance in this review may require remedial work and/or a repetition of the review after counseling with the student’s advisor.