Mississippi State University introduces new master’s degree program to Bahamians
Another avenue has presented itself for Bahamians wanting to pursue higher education in music, including studying towards a master’s degree while still retaining their employment.
Dr. Christy Lee, assistant professor at Mississippi State University, was recently in The Bahamas recruiting students to pursue their undergraduate and graduate level degrees at the university.
“At the undergraduate level, we have a Bachelor of Music Education and a Bachelor of Arts in music, much like those at the University of The Bahamas. We also have a new program that’s a Master of Music Education,” said Lee. “The program has three tracks – there’s instrumental for band directors, choral for choir directors and elementary music for those who want to teach younger children. It’s designed to be taken over three summers so that if you’re employed or already teaching, you don’t have to leave your job to do the program,” she said.
The Master of Music is a hybrid program designed to support music professionals in the advancement of both their pedagogical and musical skills. Included in the degree is performance practice, conducting, pedagogy, curriculum, music theory, history and the essentials of research in music education.
Dexter Fernander, Bahamas National Youth Choir (BNYC) director, described the opportunity that has been made available to Bahamians as amazing.
“It is crucial to both individual growth as well as the improvement of the choir. It gives this institution a benchmark for international standards and also current industry trends,” said Fernander. “Mississippi State University is becoming a trendsetter for music education as most of their faculty yearly present at international music conferences.”
He said the BNYC looks forward to a working relationship with Mississippi State University for the advancement and enhancement of Bahamian artists.
Fernander said he was excited about the amazing opportunity for Bahamians.
After 35 years of existence the BNYC continues to serve as an incubator for upcoming Bahamian musicians. In the words of current choristers “the choir provides the opportunity to not only perform, but to learn and grow”.
Lee was also in The Bahamas to accompany the BNYC at its 10th Annual Christmas Concert held at Trinity Methodist Church. She said she is always impressed with how the young people of the choir present their culture and their music.
“The biggest thing that impresses me is that [the choir] would do so many styles. Most choirs will do one thing really well – the classical or their folk music. But from the first concert I saw, [the choir] did everything, and did everything equally well and is what represents you guys (the choir) so beautifully,” said Dr. Lee.
Her favorite pieces presented during the recent concert were “Feliz Navidad”, arranged by Jose Feliciano, and “We are Christmas”, arranged by Kevin Johnson and Sarah Stephens.