Major in Church Music

Program Overview

Degree Type

Bachelor of Music – Church Music

Department Name

Music

Department Chair Name

Randall Umstead

Department Assistant Name

Melissa Browning

What is a church music degree?

“Music praises God. Music is well or better able to praise him than the building of the church in all its decoration; it is the church’s greatest ornament.” – Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)

You draw inspiration from the church and want to be part of what creates a resplendent atmosphere for worship – liturgy, readings, prayer, sacraments, and sermons, but most of all, sacred music. A church music degree is a course of study that prepares students for careers as church musicians.

Why study church music at Furman?

Accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music since 1938, the Furman University Department of Music is recognized as one of the highest-rated and most comprehensive among national liberal arts and sciences colleges, offering degree programs for passionate performers, composers, theorists and music educators. We attract ambitious musicians from across the globe – those who desire to major in music as well as those who wish to major in another discipline while continuing their music.

Imparting a conservatory-quality education, Furman’s music program and those who lead it are committed to equipping you with the tools you need to succeed in the professional world. You’ll sharpen your analytical, listening, creative, improvisation, communication, problem-solving, team-building, time management, interpretation and other skills, boosting competencies that are readily transferable no matter the career path you take.

In Furman’s intentionally small studios, faculty are free to mentor, help you advance, assist you in exploring the right repertoire, and are integral to your overall growth as a musician. Plan a visit to Furman’s beautiful campus or start your application today. Learn more about the audition process.

How will you learn?

Furman’s Bachelor of Music in church music begins with a foundation comprising a series of courses aimed at developing your overall musicianship and your understanding of the nuances of music and beauty that define the parlance of music. Basic musicianship, including written, aural and keyboard components, launches the course sequence in your freshman year. It is part of a series taken by all music majors.

Develop your technique through weekly, one-on-one lessons with master teachers and acclaimed performing artists. Learn a new instrument (or two). Get to know the members of your new Furman music family, who you’ll study with over the next four years.

And because we are an exclusively undergraduate program, you are front and center, and need not compete with master’s and doctoral candidates. It bears repeating – Furman is well positioned to expose undergraduate musicians to multiple performances and individualized instruction which prepare you for a life of consequence in the arts world.

Careers for church music majors

As a church music major, you’ll be primed for the workforce with finely tuned analytical, listening, creative, improvisation, communication, problem-solving, team-building, time management, interpretation and other skills, which set you up for virtually limitless career options. Many of our graduates seek advanced degrees and go on to faculty positions at the finest universities in the country. Our music majors have landed positions such as:

  • Business development and marketing manager
  • Chief executive
  • Clergy staff member
  • Composer
  • Computer support specialist
  • Entertainment and recreation manager
  • Financial manager
  • General and operations manager
  • Historian
  • Human resources specialist
  • Industrial production manager
  • Music, dance and extracurricular instructor
  • Music director
  • Music teacher, instructor or tutor
  • Musician
  • Network and computer systems manager
  • Operations research analyst
  • Producer or director
  • Product and marketing specialist
  • Public relations and fundraising manager
  • Recruiter
  • Research assistant
  • Sales manager
  • Social and human services specialist
  • Software developer and software quality assurance analyst
  • University music professor
  • Worship music assistant

Church music courses

Central to the curriculum across all music majors are weekly one-on-one applied lessons specific to your voice or instrument, a set of core courses, and participation in a major ensemble such as the Symphony Orchestra, Furman Band, Furman Singers, Men’s Chorale, Women’s Chorale, or Guitar Ensemble for every semester you are on campus. Sample courses for the Bachelor of Music in Church Music include:

Church Music Ministry

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Choral Conducting

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100%
Music majors who participate in any engaged learning experience, from recitals to large ensembles, to study away, internships and research
53%
Music majors who complete at least one internship
28%
Music students who double major

What our students say

flowers with fountain in background

“The Furman music department allows students to explore music in so many ways with the help of wonderful faculty members. They are an incredibly knowledgeable and talented group of musicians, and I have had the pleasure of working with many of them in my time at Furman.” – Emma Mehigan ’22, B.M., church music, and B.M., music theory

Our faculty

Your academic advisor will help you explore your passions, define your interests and achieve your goals. You’ll tap into a widespread network of community and alumni mentors to help you on your individual educational path – and to the opportunities at the end of it. Furman’s music faculty represent decades of study and real-world expertise. Take your first steps by contacting admissions or reading more about how to apply.

  • Mark E. Britt
    Title:

    Professor of Low Brass

    Mark Britt

    Mark E. Britt
    Title:

    Professor of Low Brass

    Phone Number: 8642942116

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  • Omar Carmenates
    Title:

    Professor of Music, Percussion

    Omar Carmenates

    Omar Carmenates
    Title:

    Professor of Music, Percussion

    Phone Number: 8642942406

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  • Benjamin Dobbs
    Title:

    Assistant Professor of Music Theory

    Benjamin Dobbs

    Benjamin Dobbs
    Title:

    Assistant Professor of Music Theory

    Phone Number: 8642942262

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  • Anastasia Christofakis
    Title:

    Assistant Professor of Music, Clarinet

    Antastasia Christofakis

    Anastasia Christofakis
    Title:

    Assistant Professor of Music, Clarinet

    Phone Number: 8642942117

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  • Anna Barbrey Joiner
    Title:

    Visiting Associate Professor of Music, Viola

    Anna Joiner

    Anna Barbrey Joiner
    Title:

    Visiting Associate Professor of Music, Viola

    Phone Number: 8642943199

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  • Grant Knox
    Title:

    Associate Professor of Voice; Director of Lyric Opera; Coordinator of Voice

    Grant Knox

    Grant Knox
    Title:

    Associate Professor of Voice; Director of Lyric Opera; Coordinator of Voice

    Phone Number: 8642943034

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  • Matt Olson
    Title:

    Professor of Saxophone and Director of Jazz Studies

    Matt Olson

    Matt Olson
    Title:

    Professor of Saxophone and Director of Jazz Studies

    Phone Number: 8642943284

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  • Derek Parsons
    Title:

    Professor of Piano; Director, Furman Summer Keyboard Institute

    Derek Parsons

    Derek Parsons
    Title:

    Professor of Piano; Director, Furman Summer Keyboard Institute

    Phone Number: 8642942099

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  • Sue Samuels
    Title:

    Director of Bands, Music Education Coordinator

    Sue Samuels

    Sue Samuels
    Title:

    Director of Bands, Music Education Coordinator

    Phone Number: 8642943193
    Email:

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  • Charles Tompkins
    Title:

    Professor of Music, Organ and Music Theory; University Organist

    Charles Tompkins

    Charles Tompkins
    Title:

    Professor of Music, Organ and Music Theory; University Organist

    Phone Number: 8642942969

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  • FAQ

    What can you do with a church music degree?

    An array of skills such as analytical, listening, creative, improvisation, communication, problem-solving, team-building, time management, interpretation and other skills position you for diverse career options.

    Many of our graduates seek advanced degrees and go on to faculty positions at universities throughout the country. Our music majors have also worked as a business development and marketing manager, chief executive, clergy staff member, worship music assistant, composer, computer support specialist, entertainment and recreation manager, as well as many non-music positions, such as financial manager, general and operations manager and historian.

    Are there opportunities for study away as a music major?

    Train a global lens on your passion for music through “Music in Italy.” The semester-long, conservatory-style program began in 2006 with a partnership with the Accademia dell’Arte in Arezzo. Each fall, 10 to 14 students study Italian and music history amid the Tuscan landscape.

    On top of the Italian language component offered at the Accademia, you’ll study applied music (voice, instrumental or keyboard) in individual weekly lessons and coaching sessions with Italian music teachers. Furman faculty teach a music history course and an interdisciplinary, experiential course, “Italian Art and Culture,” featuring a series of side trips and lectures revealing the richness of Tuscany’s stunning visual art and architecture.

    You’ll collaborate in several “Movement for Musicians” sessions taught by Accademia dell’Arte faculty, which allow you to spend class time together with the Accademia’s theater students. You’ll take part in performances of chamber music and solo recitals both at the Accademia and in local venues. Regular concert attendance in Florence, overnight excursions, along with independent travel opportunities during a week-long fall break give you ample opportunity to experience the cultural life of Western Europe.

    If a shorter study away is more your style, sign up for courses such as May Experience (MayX) “Opera Overload.” Students split time between Greenville, South Carolina, and New York City, and explore opera, its history in the United States (with a focus on the Metropolitan Opera as an institution), and various topics related to opera, such as elitism, racism and issues of power and sexuality.

    What is the capstone experience like?

    The capstone experience of the church music degree unfolds during the spring term of your senior year. The Practicum in Church Music involves an internship at a Greenville-area church, equipping you with the practical experience in all areas of an active, excellent church music program. Furman students intending to major in music must perform an audition and complete a music theory placement examination. Final approval for a music degree takes place during your sophomore year.

    What ensembles and performance opportunities are available?

    Specific courses pertaining to the study of church music are supplemented by the opportunity to participate in Furman’s outstanding choral ensembles – Furman Singers, Furman Chamber Choir, and the Men’s and women’s Chorales – all of which are directed by experienced and committed church musicians who perform substantial sacred repertory in a variety of styles. The annual Furman University Church Music Conference brings to campus distinguished church musicians of national prominence to deliver lectures on subjects related to the study and practice of church music.

    Recitals, concerts, master classes, camps and conferences – with over 260 events typically offered year-round, Furman is a vibrant part of both the Furman and Greenville music scene. Abundant on-stage opportunities for displaying your talent await at Furman.

    What is the average salary for church music majors?

    The average base salary for graduates with a bachelor’s in church music is $47,000 annually, according to Payscale.com.

    How long does it take to earn a church music degree?

    The Bachelor of Music in Church Music degree at Furman is a four-year program.

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