Skip to main content.

CVPA Department of Music Overview

Banner for Music


The Bachelor of Arts degree in Music at UMass Dartmouth develops musicians and prepares them for graduate school and careers that will allow them to be successful in our rapidly changing multicultural world. All students take survey and performance classes in the world's music cultures, from Asia and Oceania, through the Middle East/West Asia, Africa, and Europe, to the Americas. Our goal is to develop an understanding of the social, political, and cultural implications of music making in global communities through performance, research, discussion, listening, viewing, and writing. Upon graduation our students are expected to demonstrate performance ability, musical analysis, critical and creative thinking, and original ideas in both the oral and written form. Our program is grounded in the importance of cultural sensitivity and giving our students the ability to function in a variety of social, geographical, and political contexts.

The Music Education certification develops skillful teachers who are in demand throughout New England and nationwide. Students benefit from our global approach to music education, allowing them to bring diverse experiences into the classroom. In addition to a thorough training as an instrumentalist/vocalist and teacher, there is an emphasis on developing and conducting vocal and instrumental ensembles, the study of music education historical foundations, methodology and pedagogy, and updated electronic teaching tools. Classroom experience in schools complement this program which leads to the Initial License to teach in schools.

Traditional study of Western European musical cultures is part of the core. Topics addressed include the development of European music writing, instrumental development, form and structure of sound within the context of the political and social developments, the context and place of religious traditions on the development of European musical practices, and changes in the socio-economic climates from ancient times to the present.

World Music topics addressed include beliefs and life ways; social organization; musical analysis; material culture; representations of music; music as culture-specific; gender issues; contrasts among cultures and aesthetics; the role of dance, texts, and the drum; methods for learning, teaching, and performance; and ethical issues in the study and use of world music. Students will attain an awareness of the diversity of human expression, their histories, cultural contexts, aesthetics and many other issues as a basis for future teaching, study, performance, writing, or advanced research.

Jazz/African American Music is part of the core study. African peoples have contributed to our diverse country and world during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries through the Harlem Renaissance, literature, the visual arts, and especially music, including blues, ragtime, jazz, rhythm and blues, gospel, funk, reggae, hip-hop, Cuban Rumba, Dominican Merengue, Haitian Vodun, Brazilian Samba, and Afro-pop worldwide. As an essential force within our diverse global and American landscapes, African American culture and music, including that of the local Cape Verdean community, possesses a rich heritage of expression that will enhance the development of global awareness in our students. The intensive study of and immersion in the history, aesthetics and performance practice of diverse music cultures within African American traditions create a diversity of perspective in our students that is necessary for understanding the world and American society in the twenty-first century. Our students develop skills in music making, critical and creative thinking, and analysis through performance. Students work closely with artist-faculty members developing their skills on their primary instrument/voice, and regularly perform in ensembles. Coursework includes classes in jazz theory, improvisation, the history of African-American music and jazz, and arranging/composition, as well as upper-level seminars. Through the integration of improvisation strategies, listening, applied theory, ear training, and ensemble coaching, an emphasis is placed on developing high-level listening skills, technical proficiency, and a cultural context.

Technology is an important part of the major with course content in electronic music that enables students to function at the cutting-edge of today's music and intermedia scene, through the integration of time-based arts, such as computer music, video/film, dance, and theater. Coursework in Electronic music serves as an important interdisciplinary link among diverse musicians, educators, and artists and encourages on-campus collaborative and creative multimedia projects among composers, filmmakers, visual artists, choreographers, computer scientists, and others.

The music major is grounded in performance, and students have opportunities to perform in the following groups: University Chorus, Chamber Choir, Gospel Choir, Small Vocal Ensembles, Wind Ensemble, Large and Small Jazz Ensembles, Chamber Music, Kekeli African Drum and Dance Ensemble, World Jazz and Jazz Vocal Ensembles, Percussion Ensemble, and student-led ensembles of any style and form, coached by the faculty. The Department of Music sponsors a Noontime Concert Series, Community Concerts and Presentations, as well as student ensemble and solo recitals.

Department of Music graduates have a variety of career options open to them including teaching, performing, to electronic music, composition, sound design, audio recording, advanced study, and careers in related fields knowing that they will bring a rich grounding and understanding of the rich cultural influences that music has had in the development of global cultures.