Program Overview

Bachelor of Music – Composition
Department Chair Name
Randall Umstead
Melissa Browning

What is a composition degree?

A music composition degree is a course of study that engages students in the creation, analysis, and teaching of music. The degree includes a series of courses designed to develop your overall musicianship and your understanding of the intricacies and beauty that comprise the language of music.

Historical Music manuscipts

Why study composition 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 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.

Accomplished faculty members fuel creativity among the energetic young composers in our major. Our students get involved as soon as they arrive on campus by enrolling in a composition seminar that challenges them to study works by contemporary composers, write composition exercises, compose original pieces and give concerts. The Department of Music also hosts a number of guest composers each year.

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 Composition 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.

Feature music composition 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.

  • 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

“The Furman music program is a catalyst for exponential growth. Every faculty member ensures you have ample learning experiences, music opportunities and communal support to guarantee success inside and outside of Furman. You will leave Furman's music program a well-rounded musician with a new reverence for life!”
– Willie Cornish Jr. ’22, B.M., composition

Our Faculty

Mark Britt

Professor of Music, Low Brass

Omar Carmenates

Professor of Music, Percussion

Benjamin Dobbs

Assistant Professor of Music Theory

Anastasia Christofakis

Assistant Professor of Music, Clarinet

Anna Joiner

Visiting Associate Professor Music - Viola, Chamber Music, and String Education

Matt Olson

Professor of Saxophone and Director of Jazz Studies

Derek Parsons

Professor of Piano; Director, Furman Summer Keyboard Institute

Sue Samuels

Director of Bands, Music Education Coordinator
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Music Composition Major F.A.Q.