Master of Music, Music Education — Conducting Specialization

The Master of Music, Music Education – Conducting Specialization

The Master of Music, Music Education – Conducting Specialization is an exclusive online degree program at Colorado State University. The program features the annual Summer Conducting Seminar, the residency portion of the degree, with additional courses offered online during the school year.

Classes are designed for current middle school and high school choir, band, and orchestra directors who seek to further their personal knowledge and conducting skills while earning a master’s degree, completing most of their course work in three summers. The two-week conducting seminar (four credits each summer) includes daily conducting opportunities in all three disciplines with a workshop orchestra, band and choir, providing further hands-on training. All participants learn to conduct in all three disciplines.

In addition, each student takes three, 3-credit academic classes (music history, analytical techniques and music research), one 3-credit music education course (Foundations of Music Education) and three, 1-credit seminars on various topics of interest to music educators. These courses are either offered on campus during the summer or online during the school year.

The complete program consists of 30 credits. A maximum of six credits in the academic courses can be transferred to your graduate program from NASM-accredited universities pending approval by your advisor and the Graduate School.



We are accepting applications for Summer 2021. However, due to COVID-19 and the deferment of the 2020 admits, there will be limited sports available.

Registration and Tuition

Applications will be accepted until Feb. 1. Please apply online through the Graduate School website. Space is limited.

  • 2021 Summer Seminar Tuition: $747 per credit (4 credits) plus $1,500 fee; total is $4,488


Nathan Payant

Instructor of Music; Administrative Coordinator of Music Education; Director of the Conducting Specialization Summer Seminar; Director of Concert Choir

(970) 491-2346

Summer Conducting Seminar for Music Educators: July 1-17, 2021

Sample Summer Seminar Curriculum

  • Advanced Conducting
  • Score Preparation
  • Rehearsal Strategies
  • Rehearsal Techniques
  • Laban Method for Expressive Conducting
  • Historical Performance Practice

Hands-on sessions taught by CSU faculty and prestigious pedagogues from around the country and projects are designed for immediate implementation in your teaching program.

Summer Conducting Seminar Final Concert (TBD)

2021 Seminar Faculty

Wes Kenney, Director of Orchestras, Colorado State University

Wes Kenney headshotWes Kenney is director of Orchestras at CSU where he conducts the University Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Opera productions, and teaches graduate conducting. Mr. Kenney is also music director of the Fort Collins Symphony, Opera Fort Collins, and Denver Young Artists Orchestra.  A graduate of the University of Southern California, Mr. Kenney earned his Master of Music degree in Conducting from San Francisco State University. Previous academic posts include director of Orchestras at SFSU and the College of William and Mary in Virginia. He has also served as a guest lecturer at the Conductors Institute at Bard College. Awards include the Carmen Dragon Conducting Prize in 1992, the Grand Prize in the 2007 Varna (Bulgaria) International Conducting Competition and the Outstanding Teacher by the Colorado American String Teachers Association in 2009.

Mr. Kenney served for six seasons as associate conductor of the Virginia Symphony and four seasons as music director of the Virginia Ballet Theater. He also served for four seasons as co-principal conductor of the Oakland Lyric Opera and five seasons as music director of the Oakland Youth Orchestra in California. Guest conducting has included the Virginia Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, New Mexico Symphony, Williamsburg Symphonia (in Va.), Vallejo Symphony and Long Beach Symphony (both in Calif.), Acadiana Symphony (in La.) and the Symphony of Southeast Texas. Internationally, he has conducted orchestras and opera companies throughout Europe and China. He has also conducted All-State Orchestras in Va. and N.M., and served as president of the Conductors Guild.

James Kim, Director of Choral Activities, Colorado State University

James KimDr. James Kim is currently the director of Choral Activities at Colorado State University. He directs the CSU Chamber Choir and also teaches undergraduate/graduate conducting, choral literature, and choral techniques.

After earning two degrees from University of Southern California, James Kim was invited by the Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart to study with Helmuth Rilling for three years. In Europe, he participated in numerous workshops and festivals as an active conductor, notably such as Europisches Musikfest Stuttgart 99, Bachwochenende, and Sommerakademie. He was also selected as one of five conductors from around the world to study with Frieder Bernius in a masterclass sponsored by the International Federation of Choral Music in Namur, Belgium.

During the summers of 2000 and 2002, he was selected as an assistant conductor for the Opera Theater of Lucca held in Lucca, Italy. During the past 2001-02 season, he had served as the Interim Artistic Director for the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir. Previously, Dr. Kim taught conducting at University of Cincinnati and at Simpson College. In 2002, he was selected and invited as a Conducting Fellow for the Chicago Conducting Workshop and Masterclass presented by the Chorus America and the Chicago Symphony Association.

In November 2011, Dr. Kim and CSU Music hosted the biennial national conference of the NCCO in Fort Collins where the CSU Chamber Choir was featured as the main choir for the three-day conference. Kim is also the founding artistic director of the Colorado Bach Ensemble, which received acclaimed reviews of their inaugural season concerts with Bach's B Minor Mass and Handel's Messiah. Choirs under his direction have sung at international and national stages including National Collegiate Choral Organization, ACDA, Chang-won Grand-Prix Choral Festival/Competition, and Aspen Music Festival.

James Kim received B.M. and M.M. from University of Southern California and the D.M.A. from CCM. His major teachers include William Dehning, and Earl Rivers.

Rebecca Phillips, Director of Bands, Colorado State University

Dr. Rebecca PhillipsDr. Rebecca Phillips is director of Bands at CSU where she conducts the Wind Symphony, and guides all aspects of the band and graduate wind conducting program. Prior to this appointment, she served as the associate director of bands, director of Athletic Bands, and associate professor at the University of South Carolina.
Dr. Phillips has served as a guest-conductor, clinician, and performer throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. She regularly conducts collegiate honor bands and all-state bands across the United States and she has been a rehearsal clinician at the Midwest Clinic. Ensembles under her direction have been featured at the 2012 College Band Director's National Association Southern Division Conference (CBDNA), the 2010 Society of Composers International Conference, and the 2008 North American Saxophone Alliance International Convention.

Dr. Phillips earned her Bachelors degree in Music Education from Florida State University, Master of Music degrees in Conducting and Trombone Performance from the University of South Florida, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Conducting at Louisiana State University. She served as a secondary school band director for seven years in Fla., including director of Bands at Howard W. Blake Performing Arts High School in Tampa, Fla., where she developed an award-winning concert band program. Dr. Phillips holds memberships in the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, the College Band Directors National Association, the National Band Association, and in 2015 she was inducted into the American Bandmasters Association.

Adam A Torres, Instructor of Music, Colorado State University

Adam Torres headshotAdam A Torres, conductor and pianist, made his professional debut as a piano soloist with the San Angelo Symphony at age eleven. He has since maintained a busy schedule as a conductor, performer, and educator. His current appointments include assistant conductor for both the Fort Collins Symphony and the Denver Young Artists Orchestra, special assistant professor of music at Colorado State University (with an emphasis in Online Curriculum), and music director for Zion Lutheran Church in Loveland, Colo.

Known for his flexibility and versatility, Torres appeared with the Colorado Symphony and Denver Young Artists Orchestra, narrating a performance of Gregory Smith's The Animated Orchestra in Feb. 2015. In 2014, Torres collaborated with the Chamber Orchestra of the Springs (Colorado Springs, Colo.) as an emergency guest conductor with only a few hours' notice prior to downbeat. In 2014, Adam also had the opportunity to conduct and rehearse the newly formed Alpharetta Symphony (Alpharetta, Ga.), the Colorado State University Concert Orchestra, and the Colorado Springs Conservatory summer production of Oklahoma!.

Previous appointments and guest conducting work include serving as a cover conductor for the Colorado State University Orchestras and Opera Theatre programs, guest conductor for the Fall 2013 CSU Faculty and Friends recital, assistant conductor (and rehearsal pianist) for Opera Orvieto's 2011 production of Cosi fan Tutte (Orvieto, Italy), the Nuova Musica Project (Music Director and co-founder, Fort Collins, Colo.), St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church (music director, San Angelo, Texas), Angelo Civic Theater (music director for The Full Monty, 2009), West Texas Ice House Brass (interim music director), Agnes Scott College Orchestra (guest conductor), Angelo State University Wind Ensemble (guest conductor), the Colorado State University Pep Band (guest director for 2013 NCAA Basketball tournament).

Previous assistant conducting positions include the Angelo State University Marching Band, Angelo State University Drama Department, San Angelo Symphony Chorale, and First United Methodist Church (San Angelo, Texas). Torres has also had the opportunity to attend masterclass workshops with Maestros Marin Alsop, Gustav Meier, JoAnn Falletta, Peter Bay, Jorge Mester, Harold Farberman, where he has conducted the Round Rock (2010) and Virginia (2012) symphonies.

As a pianist, Torres remains in active demand as a collaborative pianist in Northern Colo. He is a regular performer with the Cheyenne Symphony, Sound de Trois (flute, clarinet, and piano trio), and regularly accompanies for private studios in Northern Colo. He has also recently performed with other organizations such as the Fort Collins Wind Symphony, the Poudre Valley Health and Wellness Orchestra, and the San Angelo Symphony. He has performed in several recitals for Colorado State University's Aries Composers' Festival for Contemporary Music and for the CSU Virtuoso Series. In addition to sharing his passion for music through conducting and collegiate teaching, Adam also maintains a small private studio of talented and dedicated students throughout the Northern Colorado region.

Nathan Payant, Instructor of Music; Administrative Coordinator of Music Education; Director of the Conducting Specialization Summer Seminar; Director of Concert Choir, Colorado State University
Nathan Payant headshotNathan Payant is a passionate and dedicated conductor, educator and professional singer living in the Denver-metro area. He is thrilled to be conducting the CSU University Chorus for the 2017-2018 school year.
Most recently in 2016, Nathan completed his tenth year as the director of choirs at Bear Creek High School in Lakewood, Colorado, where he directed five different choral ensembles and was the vocal director for the yearly musical. During his tenure at Bear Creek, the program doubled in size and three different ensembles were invited to perform at the Colorado Music Educators Association clinic/conference. Currently, Nathan is on a leave from full-time teaching and is in the second year of his Doctoral program in Choral Conducting and Literature at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
In addition to his work with the University Chorus and his studies, Nathan sings professionally throughout the course of the year in numerous Denver ensembles including St. Martin’s Chamber Choir, Evans Choir, and Colorado Bach Ensemble, for which he also serves as the chorus personnel manager. He is also the co-founder and artistic director of Anima Chamber Ensemble. Nathan is an active member of NAfME, CMEA, ACDA, is a past Metro Governor on the Colorado All-State Choir board, a past District 2 Representative on the Vocal Music Council of CMEA, and has served as an honor choir clinician and music festival adjudicator on numerous occasions. Currently, Nathan serves on the the Colorado ACDA Council as the Women’s Choir R&R Chair.
Nathan holds a Master of Choral Conducting degree from Colorado State University and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. When he is not teaching or singing, Nathan enjoys spending time with the loves of his life: his wife, Natalie, and three daughters, Faythe, Ava and Lilian.
K. Dawn Grapes, Associate Professor of Music; Music History, Colorado State University

K. Dawn GrapesK. Dawn Grapes is an Associate Professor of Music History in the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate music history and graduate research courses. She holds a Ph.D. in Historical Musicology from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Specialty areas include the music of Early Modern England, music history pedagogy, and flute history. Authored books include With Mornefull Musique: Funeral Elegies in Early Modern England (Boydell Press, 2018) and John Dowland: A Research and Information Guide (Routledge, 2019). She is author of the “John Dowland” and "Recorder" entries for Oxford Bibliographies (Oxford University Press, 2015 and 2017) and a "William Byrd" article for A-R Online Music Anthology (A-R Editions, 2017). Other peer-reviewed articles have appeared in the journals Mediaevalia and Symposium. Dr. Grapes previously served as Reviews Editor for NABMSA Reviews(2016–2018). National conference paper presentations include those for the American Musicological Society (Bostom 2019, Rochester 2017, Boston—Teaching Music History 2017), Renaissance Society of America (Toronto 2019, Boston 2016), Society for Seventeenth-Century Music (Boulder 2018), College Music Society (Indianapolis 2015, Cambridge 2013), the North American British Music Studies Association biennial conference (Logan 2018, Syracuse 2016, Las Vegas 2014), the National Flute Association (2012), CEMERS Binghamton (2015), and the Midwest Conference on British Studies (2013). In 2014, she presented at the International Interdisciplinary Symposium on Translation and Music at Cardiff University in Wales and in 2016 at the "Made in London" conference sponsored by the Institute of Music Research and London Metropolitan University. Past awards include a 2010 Ogilivy Travel Fellowship from the Boulder Center for British and Irish Studies for research studies in Oxford and London. Before joining the faculty at Colorado State, Dr. Grapes taught at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Front Range Community College, and Southern Utah University.

Dr. Grapes served as President of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the American Musicological Society (2014–5), as well as Immediate Past President (2015–6). She is also a former board member of the North American British Music Studies Association, the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the College Music Society, and was representative to the CMS National Student Advisory Council. She is a member of the American Musicological Society, North American British Music Studies Association, College Music Society, Society for Seventeenth-Century Music, Renaissance Society of America, and the National Flute Association. Dr. Grapes is the program notes writer for the Colorado Bach Ensemble and hosts a "Composer Talks" series for the Fort Collins Symphony. She is also an active performer on the flute and piccolo along the Colorado Front Range.

M. Roger Holland, II, Teaching Assistant Professor in Music and Religion and Director of The Spirituals Project at the Lamont School of Music, University of Denver

M. Roger Holland, II headshotM. Roger Holland, II is a teaching assistant professor in music and religion and director of The Spirituals Project at the Lamont School of Music, University of Denver. A graduate of Union Theological Seminary in New York City where he received the Master of Divinity, Roger also served as artist-in-residence and director of the Union Gospel Choir for more than 13 years. In 2015, Union awarded him the Trailblazers Distinguished Alumni Award, the first given to a graduate whose ministry is music, for his contributions to the legacy of African American music. He received a Master or Music in Piano Performance from the Manhattan School of Music, also in New York, and completed his undergraduate work at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey where he majored in Music Education with a concentration in piano and voice.

Roger is liturgical music consultant for the Archdiocese of New York Office of Black Ministry and music director for their special masses at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Commissioned works include The Dream and The Dreamer, The Tribulation Suite, and The Call. Original music collections published by GIA include “Building Up the Kingdom,” featuring the single “Worthy God,” and his recent collection, “Honey from the Rock, entrance and communion antiphons for the church year, is available in four volumes, recorded on 2 CDs. He has played for the Broadway productions of Oprah Winfrey’s The Color Purple and the Tony award winning show, Memphis.  In November 2016 Timothy Cardinal Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York presented Roger with the Pierre Toussaint Medal for service.

Alumni News and Testimonials

grad student

Master of Music, Music Education, Conducting Specialization, 2020

August 2, 2020

The Colorado State University Summer Conducting Program is exceptional. The ability to have in-person experiences in the summer while continuing course-work online during the school year is incredibly valuable as an educator. Through this program, my conducting and my classroom have flourished and I am excited about the progress my colleagues and I have made over the past three years.

Specifically, the summer course provides rigorous and rewarding conducting experiences through high-level repertoire. The podium time is musically fulfilling and allows the conductor to apply new conducting concepts and gestures. The ability to conduct band, choir, and orchestra ensembles is unique and results in a well-rounded conductor. The summer course creates a setting where life-long friendships and personal connections can be built in combination with confidence and skill. Despite the challenges that COVID-19 posed on the program, our professors persevered and provided a fantastic online course that was equally gratifying as the in-person summer experience. The ability to spend uninterrupted time with each master teacher and complete an in-depth analysis of a masterwork has bettered my score preparation and conducting gesture more than I could have imagined. I am thankful for the dedication of the Colorado State University Conducting faculty and to the music program for their flexibility and willingness to adapt their instruction so my colleagues and I could complete our Master’s Degree on time. The CSU conducting faculty have raised the bar and set an example for all educators moving forward.

I would highly recommend Colorado State University’s Graduate Conducting Program to any prospective student.  The summer experience is unmatched and I will be forever grateful for my education from Colorado State University.

Dru Deitch, M.M., 2020
Conductor, Susquehanna Young Women's Chorale
Eagle View Middle School in the Cumberland Valley School District

Susanne Norwood promotional photoJuly 28, 2020
As a conducting student in this summer's CSU music education program, I was impressed and amazed that the online format was equal in rigor to our in-person seminars in previous years. The one-on-one conducting lessons were fantastic and the group conducting classes worked very well as distance learning opportunities, too. Thanks to CSU and the conducting faculty for providing such an enriching and engaging summer of graduate studies!
Susanne Norwood, M.M., 2020
Vocal and Instrumental Director at Lyndon Institute
Lyndon Center, Vermont
Mary Turner headshotI took my middle school and high school choirs to contest this week. They both made straight 1s, or Superiors, for their concert performances. I attribute this in large part to the ease with which they were able to make adjustments to nonverbal requests from their director for better articulation, stronger entrances, more powerful dynamic contrasts, etc. Five years ago, I would have been tearing my hair out, telling students with words to fix these issues but lacking the gestural tools to remind them when their music was no longer in their hands, or when they were under pressure and would forget. Thanks to you and the CSU program, I have this whole language that I can use with my ensembles...and it WORKS!
Mary Turner, M.M., 2014

Ted HallbergApril 17, 2019

Hello Professor Kenney!

I just want to take a minute to thank you for all that I learned from my MME in Conducting degree at CSU. My community orchestra, the Cherokee Symphony, performed their season closer on Sunday. It was our annual student concerto concert, which included several solo works plus an overture which was a world premiere.

If it wasn't for the score study method that you taught me in my first summer, I think we would have had major troubles in this performance. My confidence in my conducting was higher because of it. It also helped me find all the layering effects the composer put in the overture and was able to identify a couple errors for him to correct (minor ones such as removing mute and arco markings).

As it was, following these student soloists was a breeze compared to the Mozart recitative I had to conduct in my third summer — ha! Also, through the rehearsals and the performance, I kept hearing your voice say "too big" and "get rid of the hitch."

All that said, I thank you for pointing out my weaknesses and failures while I was in the program. I had to hire in a couple professionals to fill in the viola section. One of them came up to me at the end and complimented me on my conducting. That type of praise never happened before I took the degree from you and the rest of the conducting faculty.

Thank you again — and good luck to you in the future!

Ted Hallberg, M.M. 2012
Orchestra Director/Music Coordinator, Le Mars Community Schools, Le Mars, Iowa
Conductor, Cherokee Symphony

Susanne NorwoodMarch 4, 2019

Dear Ms. Stewart, Maestro Kenney, and Dr. Kim, 

I just wanted to thank you for the CSU conducting program, for all your expertise and efforts, and for the amazing opportunities this program has opened up for me recently.
In the next few weeks, I will be guest conducting at the Vermont ACDA's annual Great Day of Singing event as well as at the Bernie Sanders' Town Meeting on Arts Education. I've also been nominated as president-elect of Vermont's ACDA chapter. This is in addition to guest conducting the Kingdom East Choral Festival in our region last month.
I am so thankful to have been accepted to CSU's conducting program and am so grateful for the opportunities it has provided me. I just wanted to share the good news with you, since I believe it is coming to me because of your tutelage. 
I hope you are all well and having a rewarding year. I'm looking forward to this summer's seminar!
All my best, 
Susanne Norwood

Matt Cody, 2014, M.M.Matt Cody, 2014, M.M. Music won first place in the American Prize for conducting at the community orchestra level. According to the organization's website, the American Prize in Conducting recognizes and rewards the best orchestral, choral, band/wind ensemble, opera and musical theater conductors in America, based on submitted recordings.

Matt entered CSU's Summer Conducting Program in 2012 as a middle school band director from Decorah, Iowa. By the time he graduated in 2014, he knew he wanted to conduct an orchestra but there wasn't one where he lived. Maestro Kenney suggested that Matt start a community orchestra made up of his music teacher colleagues, high school, and adult musicians from Decorah, as well as students and faculty from nearby Luther College. Within a few weeks of returning to Iowa, the Oneota Valley Community Orchestra held their first rehearsal, and in just three years since it's inception, has won this prestigious prize!

Evan Dixon headshotFeb. 19, 2017

Good Evening Professor Kenney,

I hope you are well and living life to its fullest. This evening I find myself looking over a score and getting into vivid details on individual part tuning. In speaking with a colleague, I admitted how much I truly love getting this much in touch with what I am to be teaching next quarter.  I thought to myself how much I have you to thank for that.

Sincerely, thank you for how much you have added focus and direction to my personal understanding of music. The impact of the summer master's program had immediate results, however the long lasting dedication to truly knowing the music I am to conduct is where I am finding the most success. The philosophy you have instilled within me of pre- study, dedication to the music, and total mastery of the craft make my students far more successful than I could have realized. The skills of efficiently picking apart a score through application of what, how, and when to teach students each concept continues to be a strength of mine, largely thanks to you.

Thank you for all you do, and all you have done for me.

Evan Dixon, M.M., 2012

Eric Colgrove headshotDear Professor Kenney,

I wanted to thank you again for your instruction and influence during my time in the master's program at CSU. I have recently accepted a position as the director of the Symphonic Band and Chamber Orchestra at Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond, Oklahoma. I am very excited about this opportunity and know that I would not have been prepared for this without the experiences I had at CSU.

I really enjoyed conducting orchestral music at CSU and look forward to working with an orchestra at the collegiate level. Thank you for instilling that love of orchestral music and providing those experiences.

Eric Colgrove
Instructor of Music; Director of the Symphonic Band and Chamber Orchestra
Oklahoma Christian University

Eric was formerly the band director at Widefield High School in Colorado Springs, and graduated from the program in 2012.

Feb. 14, 2017

Good afternoon Professors Kenney and Stewart,

I hope you are both doing well!

I wanted to take a minute and say thank you for the quality of the summer program at CSU. In the past couple of months, I have had some great conducting experiences. My time at CSU was a huge factor the performances going well.

In Dec., my high school band hosted a local brass band for a joint concert. Their music director cancelled a few days before the performance and I was asked to conduct on short notice. Thanks to the score study methods I learned at CSU, the performance went very well!

In Jan., I had the opportunity to conduct the Symphony Band at the University of Iowa with the directors from Iowa, Iowa State, Northern Iowa and Drake University looking on. Again, the workshop went very well thanks to the tools I learned in my time at CSU.

Thank you both for the time and energy you put into making that program a success. I would not be able to do what I can today without it.

Charles Oldenkamp, M.M., 2014