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.


Registration and Tuition

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

  • 2020 Summer Seminar Tuition: rates are coming soon


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 2-18, 2020

Sample Summer Seminar Curriculum

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

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)

2020 Seminar Faculty - additional personnel will be announced

Wes Kenney, Director of Orchestras, Colorado State University

Wes Kenney headshot_sotaWes 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

969858_670068103060461_965217204_nDr. 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, Special Assistant Professor, 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, Choral Music Instructor, 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.

Alumni News and Testimonials

April 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

March 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. 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