Sacred Heart University announces new music major

Move-in day for first-year students on the campus of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield on Aug. 26.

Move-in day for first-year students on the campus of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield on Aug. 26.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

FAIRFIELD — After several years of seeing performing arts program grow, Sacred Heart University has decided to offer a bachelor of arts degree in music.

The program is slated to begin this fall.

“A music major is a logical and prudent next step as Sacred Heart continues to expand its arts curricula,” said Joe Carter, director of SHU’s academic program. “It is, in part, a response to the unprecedented growth of the academic music program over the past several years.”

Sacred Heart had previously only offered students the chance to study music as a minor. Carter said the academic music program has grown to be the largest performing arts program at Sacred Heart. It offers an average of 20 music elective classes each semester, private lessons on 20 instruments, as well as instrumental and choral ensembles.

Due to the uptick in growth and success, Carter and Sara “Sally” Ross, associate professor and department chair of media and theater arts, started working together nearly a year ago to establish the new major.

The major will require students to complete 48 credits: 36 from required courses, including 12 credits of music theory, nine credits of music history and literature, 13 credits of applied music and two credits of piano proficiency.

Students will also pursue 12 credits for their concentration, in either performance or music production. The intention of this program is to prepare students to become professional musicians, music educators, producers and audio engineers.

The new program will be based in the department of media and performing arts in the School of Communication, Media & the Arts (SCMA), which is part of the College of Arts & Sciences.

Carter said studying music encourages students to incorporate creative expression into their wider intellectual and personal development. It fulfills a fundamental goal of Catholic schooling, which is to “educate the whole person and to nurture each student’s intellectual, aesthetic, spiritual and moral growth.”

“Increasing our commitment to the academic discipline of music will unambiguously contribute to providing the environment in which its students can develop the aesthetic dimension of life by nurturing their abilities to imagine, create and appreciate, which is part of our mission statement,” Carter said.

Since the program is new this semester, Carter and Ross are in the process of getting the word out. However, Carter said they’ve already received interest from several university students who are currently looking at the opportunity to double major.

Students interested in the major will be required to participate in an audition-based assessment to determine their admittance into the program. Students will have to show entry-level musical abilities with the potential to grow.

Students who have a performance concentration will perform 60-minute recitals in their junior and senior years.

Carter and Ross anticipate the program to be very successful as they believe the curriculum allows students to take what they've accomplished in a variety of directions.

“We are excited that this major will enable students to pursue their passion for music while gaining versatile skills that will open the doors to a variety of creative careers,” Ross said.