New Degree at the University of Mary to Enrich Life and Advance Careers in Music

SPECIAL TO DEVILS LAKE  JOURNAL

BISMARCK, ND — The new Master of Arts in Music (MA) degree at the University of Mary is available this summer for any music professional or graduating college senior looking to advance their skills in a number of professions — teaching, performing, directing, composing, church musicians, and potential doctoral study. Students take the bulk of the required 30 course credits during summer residencies (2 weeks in July) and as much or as little as they desire during the academic year, depending on their own schedules.

A symbol with stylized music notes.

“Our new master’s in arts program is uniquely designed to work cooperatively with the music educator’s schedule,” said Dr. Rebecca Raber, who leads the program as director of graduate studies in music at the University of Mary. “Students go at their own pace and they can tailor their electives toward their interests. The degree is open to all educators and church musicians, but we also have specific elements that can support and inspire Catholic school music teachers in particular. While there’s likely an increase in both salary and teaching opportunity, the greatest benefit to earning an MA for a music teacher, though, is the inspiration that is passed on to generations of our own students.”

“Our new master’s in arts program is uniquely designed to work cooperatively with the music educator’s schedule,” said Dr. Rebecca Raber, who leads the program as director of graduate studies in music at the University of Mary. “Students go at their own pace and they can tailor their electives toward their interests. The degree is open to all educators and church musicians, but we also have specific elements that can support and inspire Catholic school music teachers in particular. While there’s likely an increase in both salary and teaching opportunity, the greatest benefit to earning an MA for a music teacher, though, is the inspiration that is passed on to generations of our own students.”

Raber says there’s no need for students to interrupt their jobs while earning this degree. Students begin the summer session in June, in an online format, meet on campus in July, and finish things up in August online, before the academic year begins again. This blended format allows students to load up on courses in the summers, but then also take a smaller load if they choose during the fall and winter months while working in their teaching profession. Students can also take elective courses from the education or business schools if they desire.

The program first started a year ago in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Allison Brink, a Bismarck Century High School music teacher, was one of the first to enroll in Mary’s MA program. Before Mary’s program came along, she knew other programs across the country required travel, or even months at a time away from home, to get an MA degree. She found that the new MA degree at Mary saved her time, money and heartache not having to be away from family.

“The blended format includes online and hands-on classes that are offered with your interests in mind,” added Brink, who’s taught music in Bismarck Public Schools for 27 years. “Being able to live at home and learn from some of the best educators in our state has been a game.

“The blended format includes online and hands-on classes that are offered with your interests in mind,” added Brink, who’s taught music in Bismarck Public Schools for 27 years. “Being able to live at home and learn from some of the best educators in our state has been a game

changer for me. This program is flexible and can be paced and tailored toward a music educators busy school schedule.”

This MA degree at Mary fits into Brink’s busy lifestyle. Like many music teachers across the country she has a full load directing five choirs, prepping for rehearsals, assigning solos, recording solos for various honor choirs and festivals, grading, making travel plans for honor choir tours, corresponding with parents, administrators, counselors, other teachers, and people from the community.

“I enjoy my days at Century, but my biggest joy is seeing and working with my students,” added Brink. “Their enthusiasm for music keeps me motivated. I am very fortunate that I have students for up to four years in my program which allows me to see them mature and grow both musically and personally. I have always been interested in furthering my education. I want to make sure that I am growing professionally and my students are getting the best education and musical experience that I can provide. So this degree is as much for them as it is for myself.

Music note icon g treble clef concept color shape

I love what I do.”

There are even more specific electives catered to the Catholic school teacher that include sacred music, and music in the Catholic schools. Catholic school teachers also have the opportunity to gather in small groups for prayer, support, and discussions. A 9-credit certificate in sacred music is currently being developed and will be offered in the future.

The University of Mary also offers a Thank You Scholarship that provides a teacher their first MA class at Mary for free during the summer of 2021. The scholarship is a way of saying thank you to all the teachers for their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

University of Mary is hosting a Virtual Q & A Session for the MA in music Feb. 11, at 6:30 p.m. Also, look for the Master of Arts in Music (MA) virtual booth at the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) national conference, March 17-20.

Learn more at online.umary.edu or contact Michael Raber at meraber@umary.edu.

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at kboyer@gannett.com, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  

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