The sound of musical chords and voices singing echo through Saint Leo University’s Music Building as students learn and practice their skills. Those sounds are increasing as the university’s music program grows, thanks to the addition of a new Bachelor of Arts in music degree and to generous donor support.
In Fall 2023, Saint Leo began offering a music major, building on the success of the minor in music and based on prospective students’ interest in pursuing a music degree.
“The bachelor’s degree is a practical degree that can be paired with a minor to enhance the student’s career options,” said Dr. Cindy Selph, associate professor of music and director of the Music Department. “We see four areas of focus: music education, commercial music, church music, and community music.”
Dr. Chantelle MacPhee, chair of the Department of Language Studies and the Arts, said students “are gravitating toward these areas because of their passion for music, and particularly since they already are involved on their own in commercial music, the music ministry, and community music.”
The university’s first cohort in the music major have expressed interest in all four areas. “I currently have three students who hope to teach music, three who are focused on music production, one who wants to be a church music director, and two who would like to pursue music therapy in graduate school,” Selph said.
Students audition for the program during the summer for placement in the correct expertise level. If they transfer into Saint Leo’s music program, then during the semester they are expected to enroll, they will have an audition with Selph.
With the focus of the Bachelor of Arts in music being in four areas — music education, commercial music, church music, and community music, the degree program “aligns with our core values and as a Catholic institution,” MacPhee added. “We think that this focus also aligns well with Pasco County and the demand for music teachers, community music schools, and music production needs.”
Tickling the Ivories
Saint Leo’s piano students now have a new piano lab in which to practice and compose. Located in the Music Building, the lab features six keyboards. The lab was created with funding from ticket sales for the music program’s concerts and donations during Day for Saint Leo, the university’s 10th annual giving day on April 12, 2023.
This year, alumni, friends of Saint Leo, faculty, staff, parents, and students will have the opportunity to donate to the music program — as well as other programs, clubs, and organizations — during Day for Saint Leo, which will be Thursday, April 11, 2024. More information about the annual giving day is forthcoming. In the meantime, donations may be made at your.saintleo.edu/give.
The new piano lab gives students more opportunities to train and learn. “Studying piano, as in any instrument, requires practice in technique as much as creative expression, reading and interpretation of music, and memorizing music scores,” MacPhee said.
Those who major in music at Saint Leo have many instrumental and vocal groups from which to choose. In addition, Selph said the following minors — and in some cases double majors — are recommended for those pursuing a bachelor’s in music: psychology, religious studies, education, marketing, communications, and digital media.
“We do encourage students to compose their own music in every level of music theory, and they produce their own music in the music production classes,” Selph said. “All music majors are required to do an internship that reflects their primary interest area. I mentored my first intern this semester in the area of church music.”
One student recently had the opportunity to showcase what he is learning. Cameron McLaughlin, a clarinetist and music major, arranged one of the songs for the Saint Leo Rhythm Machine (jazz ensemble) in December’s A Saint Leo Christmas, the university’s annual Christmas concerts.
“In this program, students will have one-on-one contact, instruction, and small class sizes to truly hone their craft as musicians and artists,” MacPhee said. “In this way, our program truly engages the students in performance opportunities on campus, in local schools, in local events, such as Moonlight and Ivory [concert presented annually by the Heritage Arts Association in Dade City, FL] as well as music competitions. We are excited for the opportunities our students have in this program.”
For more information about enrolling in Saint Leo’s Bachelor of Arts in music, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (800) 334-5532.