Bachelor of Arts in Music
The BA in Music program gives you the flexibility to explore different areas of the music industry and the freedom to customize your education based on your creative interests and career goals. You’ll gain essential music skills through a core music curriculum, which includes intensive study of music theory, ear training and ensemble performance. You’ll also develop your talent though individualized private lessons on your primary instrument. And if you’re a multi-instrumentalist, you’ll have the option to study different instruments with faculty from any of the Music Performance programs in order to broaden your musicianship.
A key benefit of this program is that it features a significant number of elective credits. This allows you to diversify your skill-set by earning a minor or concentrating your studies in other areas, such as Music Production, Songwriting or Music Business. You’ll also have more freedom to gain real world experience though internships and study abroad opportunities.
The BA in Music program also has a greater number of general education credits than discipline-specific degree programs such as Production or Performance. This gives you the opportunity to broaden your interests across disciplines and to transfer in many of the credits you may have earned previously from another institution or in one of the other programs offered at McNally Smith.
The BA in Music program might be right for you if:
- You want the opportunity to develop knowledge and skills across disciplines like Production, Songwriting, Business and Pedagogy to prepare for a life in music
- You’re ready for a solid core of music studies (including private lessons and ensembles) and liberal arts courses, as well as a high level of freedom in substantial elective credits
- You’re passionate about pursuing a variety of studies within the context of contemporary music, immersed in both hands-on and academic learning
- You want the opportunity to transfer in a lot of credits from other areas of study
- You want to minor in a secondary subject area, including but not limited to Music Performance, Music Business, Live Sound, Hip-Hop Studies, or the new 21st Century Musician track (see below)
21st Century Musician Track
The 21st Century Musician Track prepares you to take advantage of the diverse opportunities that exist in the music, media and entertainment industries. By pursuing the 21st Century Musician Track, you’ll take additional courses in Music Business, Production, and Composition and Songwriting, providing a deeper set of core skills that will help you succeed as an independent artist and entrepreneur.
Your Career Path
Graduates of the BA in Music program are prepared for a variety of career options, including:
- Performing/Recording Artist
- Session Player
- Music Journalist
- Teaching Artist
- Sound Designer
Studios & Facilities
Our campus features 3 performance venues, 6 technology labs, and 11 recording studios where students learn to record, edit and mix music and audio.
There’s a lot to explore outside of class, including student organizations, free concerts, music ensembles, and the diverse music and art scene of Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Cindee Calton is an anthropologist with a specialization in linguistic anthropology. She has an M.A. and a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Iowa. She also has a B.A. in mathematics and anthropology from the University of Northern Iowa. Cindee's research examines a variety of topics, including language ideology, the anthropology of education, American Sign Language, Deaf studies, and disability studies. Her ethnographic research focuses on how teacher and student identities and ideologies influence how teaching and learning happens. Her publications include an article in Disability and Society analyzing of the role socioeconomic class in the parenting of disabled children, and a chapter on the history of sign language linguistics in the edited volume Deaf Gain: Raising the Stakes for Human Diversity.
In addition to working at McNally Smith, Cindee is a Teacher Professional Development Specialist at the Science Museum of Minnesota. She works with a team to develop and facilitate professional development for K-12 educators that focuses on access and equity for each and every student in the classroom. One of the reasons that Cindee chose anthropology is that it allows her to teach a wide variety of topics. She has taught linguistic anthropology, cultural anthropology and biological anthropology at the University of Iowa and Black Hawk College. She is working to develop this experience into anthropology classes at McNally Smith, starting with the course Language and Culture.
Micah Chibana is an acoustician, educator, and musician. He worked as a noise control engineer for Trane Co. for five years, specializing in reverberation room test methods and sound prediction modeling. He earned a B.S. in physics and M.S. in aerospace engineering from Purdue University and currently teaches acoustics at McNally Smith and mathematics at Minneapolis Media Institute. Musically, his 15 years of experience spans indie rock, folk, classical guitar, and Japanese traditional music. In 2010, Micah independently released his solo debut album Like Trees and continues to perform and record his original compositions.
William G. Franklin received a Master of Liberal Studies (MLS) with a minor in Art History from the University of Minnesota in 2002. He tailored this individualized degree to the examination of Surrealism as an extreme development of several vital aspects of Modernism. With a background as a musician and producer, he served as humanities faculty and student advisor at the Institute of Production and Recording in Minneapolis for three years. He is a certified Pro Tools operator music level. He also works as an independent art curator.
Chris earned a B.S. in Mathematics and an M.S. in Mathematics Education from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has taught math at a variety of secondary and post-secondary institutions, including Madison Area Technical College, Santa Monica College, and New Roads School in Los Angeles. As a member of the Center for Effective learning, he explored technologies like dynamic geometry software and perceptual learning modules that enhance learning in the classroom. In addition, Chris studied recording engineering at the Aspen Music School and has assisted Ron Streicher, former President of the Audio Engineering Society, in recording a variety of classical music events in Los Angeles.
Gary has been a professional musician for 45+ years, working throughout the industry as a performer, composer, arranger and programmer. He studied piano with Lorna Michelson, Herb Wigley, Manfredo Fest, and Jill Dawe; Organ with Stephen Gabrielsen and Peter Hendrickson; and Guitar and Viola with True Sackrison and Ewa Bujak. Gary has performed with Tony Sandler, Marilyn McCoo, Robert Robinson, Brian Duncan, Ernie Watts, Othello Molineaux, Tim Ries, and the Minnesota Vikings Band. He continues to perform regularly with Marv Dahlgren, Yolanda Bruce, Cynthia Johnson, Judi Donaghy, the Sevilles, The Sleepers, his own band and others. As a composer/ synthesist with Herb Pilhofer Music, Gary composed music and designed sounds for numerous national TV ads including spots for Coca Cola, Discover Card, Target, and Porsche. He also performed on the soundtrack for the movie “Beautiful Girls” and coached the lead actor, Timothy Hutton, in piano technique. Gary hols a B.A. in Music from Augsburg College and a M.M. in Music Education from Boston University.
Sam joined McNally Smith as an adjunct instructor in 2012 after earning his Ph.D. in Kinesiology from the University of Minnesota. He is also an assistant professor of kinesiology and health sciences at Concordia University, St. Paul. Sam has multiple years of experience teaching a variety of courses including anatomy and physiology, motor behavior, nutrition, research methods, and health and human movement. He has also worked in fitness and youth sports.
Sam’s primary research interest is in motor skill performance and he has published research on the effects of acute static stretching of the shoulder on baseball pitching performance in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Recently, Sam examined the influence of a competitive environment on postural sway and heart rate in participants while they performed in a golf putting tournament. He is also involved in research concerning parents’ perceptions of concussion risk in sport.
Shai Hayo is a percussionist and educator who specializes in traditional and contemporary drumming styles of the Spanish-speaking Caribbean and West Africa. He has performed and taught nationally and interntaionally, sharing the stage with artists and ensembles, such as Tony Orlando, Ann Margaret., Shelie E. Andy Montanez, Nachito Herrera, Sowah Mensah, Paracumbe, Shi-Daa Cultural Troupe, Salsa del Soul, The Macalester College African Music Ensemble, the Minnesota Orchestra, and, most currently, Paul Anka. An experienced language instructor, Shai teaches Spanish I and II in the Liberal Arts division.
Hayo holds degrees in Anthropology (B.A. Macalester College, 1996) and Education (MaEd, Hamline University, 2006) and has carried out anthropological and ethnomusicological research in Puerto Rico (1994 - 1995) and Ghana, West Africa (1998).
Bruce H. Hinrichs is a psychology professor, artist, and author. He has taught at numerous colleges and universities and specializes in General Psychology and Biological Psychology. Bruce was also the bass player in a 1960s-style rock band, The Fables, and was singer, songwriter, and rhythm guitar player in a punk-style band, The Necroids in the 1980s. Bruce was previously a glass-blower and is now an abstract painter and the author of nonfiction books in psychology, brain science, film, and art, and short stories often with a humorous tone.
Jerry has performed on shows with Don Ross, Tommy Emmanuel, Bob Brozman, and Andy McKee. He was a featured performer at major festivals including the Walnut Valley Festival, Canadian Guitar Festival, and National Resophonic Festival. Jerry's teaching experience includes being a member of the faculty at Northern Arizona University and MacPhail Center for Music and he was the winner of the Zietgiest Eric Stokes Song Contest in 2000 and 2001.
Jerry was the recipient of Jerome Foundation Grant and has received Artist Endorsements from National Resophonic Guitars and Petros Guitars. A member of ASCAP, the Minnesota Guitar Society and the American Composers Forum, Jerry has recorded two CDs of original music for solo guitar, "Many Dances" and "Sounds Like This."
His compositions "Matagalpa" and "Many Dances" garnered him awards. His compositions range in style from classical to blues to modern progressive acoustic. As a performer, Jerry is usually found sharing the stage with his pedal board and rack of gear featuring the Gibson Echoplex.
Michelle Lekas has been studying and teaching film history and theory at the University of Florida, Hamline University, Carleton College, Macalester College and the University of Minnesota for 27 years.
She earned BAs in English Education and Cinema Studies at the University of Illinois UC, her MA in Comparative Literature at the University of Florida and her PhD at UM. She is most interested in what the history of cinema can tell us about film and society today. This concern includes attention to the intersections of cinema the related arts and media, such as television, as well as cinema’s position within politics and culture, with particular attention to film sound.
As in her cinema programming days with the Florida State Theater and her work with the Walker Art Center and UM and MNSCU student film festivals, Dr. Lekas loves to hear what students are thinking about cinema and encourages them to create in cinema, and join the larger discussion(s) in the film world.
April began her career teaching all areas of English and Speech Communications for eight years in secondary schools. In 2003, she moved into higher education, teaching at St. Cloud State University, The College of St. Catherine, Inver Hills Community College, University of Wisconsin-River Falls and for three years as an adjunct at McNally Smith. Primarily, she’s taught introductory composition, but has also branched out to creative and argumentative writing. In addition to teaching, April participated in community, high school and college theater for 15 years. She was involved in all aspects of production including acting, singing, lighting, set and costume design, and directing. She was a founding director of Mora Area Community Theater and directed plays for several years in that community.
Teresa De la Mora is an adjunct instructor in the Department of Biology at Normandale Community College, in the Department of Natural Sciences at Metropolitan State University, and in the Liberal Arts Department at McNally Smith. She teaches biology and chemistry courses directed towards non-science major students. Teresa received her PhD from University of Minnesota in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics with concentration in protein crystallography, and her BS from University of Texas at El Paso in Microbiology. Teresa’s research work focused on understanding how a protein’s structure relates to its function and how changes to that structure can affect the function at a molecular level as well as organismal level.
An experienced performer as a soloist and with a wide variety of musicians, Chris Olson holds an M.M. degree in Jazz Studies/Performance from the University of North Texas and a B.M. degree in Music Education from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point. Chris is on the board of directors of the Minnesota Guitar Society, and teaches at guitar and jazz camps in Shell Lake, Wisconsin and here at McNally Smith. Chris has been a performer and clinician at camps and festivals from Green Bay, WI to Cordoba, Argentina.
A Milwaukee, Wisconsin native with direct Nigerian ancestry, Nneka Onyilofor attained her B.S. in Family Social Science and Masters of Liberal Studies (M.L.S.) degree from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Being passionate about her community, Nneka expanded her mission to West Africa, as she completed her master’s thesis on globalization in West African contemporary culture, with a major focus on Ghanaian hip-life music. She has studied in Ghana, French-speaking Mali and Rio de Janeiro and Salvador (Bahia) Brazil, to learn more about the African diaspora.
Nneka has worked at African American Family Services and at the University of Minnesota as an Admissions Counselor. She was also the lead instructor for three black history courses in the University of Minnesota’s African American and African Studies Department . Additionally, she has coordinated and taught a community based college preparation course to high school students.
Her other interests include writing, as she was a freelance writer for the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder Newspaper and has been published in various local publications such as the African News Journal and the St. Paul Almanac. She was the founder of Moonlight Poetry, an open mike venue in Minneapolis and she participated in the 2008 Givens Black Writer's Retreat in Minnesota. She is also a program director with a locally based networking and entertainment group called African Global Roots.
Residing in St. Paul, Minnesota, she currently holds a full time position as an Outreach Counselor at the University of MN. She also holds an adjunct faculty position at McNally Smith, teaching Diaspora of African Music.
Elise has taught acting and theater at institutions across the country and is currently in the final stages of her PhD program with University of California Santa Barbara.
An experienced performer and director, Elise has directed over 25 fully produced plays, including children’s shows, classical and contemporary pieces, as well as several original works. She has participated in workshops with Patsy Rodenburg, Marcel Marceau and Aquila Theatre among others.
Elise enjoys working with musicians to help them develop poise, confidence, a professional presentation and collaboration skills.
Kevin is a musicologist, writer, editor, DJ, and composer living in the city of West Saint Paul, MN. He received a PhD in musicology from the University of Minnesota in 2010. He also holds an MM in composition from the University of Massachusetts—Amherst and a BA in music and English from Hamline University. His research focuses on expressions and transformations of race, gender, and sexuality in contemporary popular culture. Specifically, he has written and published works exploring reparative and revisionist perspectives on traditional and "classical" cultural histories, as well as convolutions of "authentic" and "synthetic" musical identities, as enacted by pop, rock, and hip hop songwriters and performers. His research and writing has ranged from approaches to independent queer punk to transformations of drag house culture to uses of the Western art music canon in the work of contemporary alternative and art folk musicians, as well as the role of disability studies in music scholarship. He is currently writing a memoir exploring the contradictions and frustrations of being a gay club and wedding DJ in an era of politicization of same sex relationships.
Kevin has taught music history, composition, music theory, writing, and cultural studies in a variety of roles in a variety of institutions, including Saint Catherine University, the University of Massachusetts, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Saint Thomas. In addition to teaching music history and cultural studies, he is an academic editor at Walden University, working with PhD, EdD, and DBA candidates as they compose their capstone projects.
Associate Dean of Assessment and Accreditation | Department Head, Liberal Arts
Janis Weller serves as the associate dean of assessment and accreditation and heads the Liberal Arts Department of McNally Smith College of Music, in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she also teaches the capstone course, Creating a Life in Music, and woodwinds. With several colleagues from around the world, she is co-author of a book called Life in the Real World: Making Music Graduates Employable, published by Common Grounds Press (2013). She has developed and taught innovative courses in career development and music business at the University of Minnesota, Augsburg College, and the University of St. Thomas; and flute at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and MacPhail Center for Music, where she is a former dean of individual and group instruction.
Active with the International Society for Music Education, Dr. Weller served as Chair of the Commission for the Education of the Professional Musician organizing the 2012 CEPROM Seminar in Athens, Greece for participants from twelve countries. As part of CEPROM/ISME, she has presented workshops and papers internationally in Spain, Vietnam, U.K., Italy, China, Greece, and Brazil. In the U.S., she has presented at conferences and meetings of the College Music Society, Association for Popular Music Education, Minnesota Music Educators Association, National Careers Conference, Minnesota Career Development Association, National Flute Association and others.
Dr. Weller specializes in artist career development, assessment in higher education, curricular design, and the role of a liberal arts education for professional artists. As a flutist, Dr. Weller has premiered more than 100 new works ranging from traditionally notated pieces to graphic notation and sculptural scores. She performs with Improvestra, the Crocus Hill Trio, and freelances in the Twin Cities.
Teresa (Terri) Whitman writes poetry, stories, and essays. Her work has been published in the anthologies Mixed Voices: Contemporary Poems about Music, Two Words Walking, Looking for Home, and in numerous journals including Mizna, Water~Stone Review, and Mid-American Review. As winner of the 2012 Cambria Eisteddfod Poetry Competition, she was chaired as bard of Blue Earth County.
She has been awarded Minnesota State Arts Board grants in fiction and in poetry, a Jane Kenyon poetry prize, a Loft-McKnight Award, a Loft Creative Nonfiction Award, an AWP Intro Award, a Loft Mentor Series Award, and an Academy of American Poets Award. She earned her M.F.A in Writing from the University of Minnesota and her B.A. in English from Williams College.
Interested in the creative practices shared by musicians, writers, and other artists, Terri believes in the power of the arts to transform consciousness and therefore lives. She has taught writing and literature courses at the University of Minnesota and the University of St. Thomas. She has also co-owned a bakery, given tours at the Walker Arts Center, managed a darkroom, and edited legal journals for Butterworth Legal Publishers.
At McNally Smith College of Music, Terri teaches Creative Writing, Writing about Music, and Music Research and Bibliography. She is the faculty adviser to Composed: The Literary Journal of McNally Smith College of Music.
$12,870 per semester for full-time attendance (13-17 credits)
- Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree: 60 credits
- Diploma: 45 credits
$990 per credit for part-time attendance More info »
On average, more than $1 million in College-funded aid is awarded annually in the form of merit-based scholarships and need-based grants. More than 85% of our students receive financial assistance to help cover their educational costs.
Click here to learn about the many resources available to help pay for college.
McNally Smith College of Music is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM). More info »