Graduate Studies in Conducting, Choral Emphasis

Dr. Brandon Johnson

 Dr. Brandon Johnson

Dr. Brandon Johnson

 Dr. Brandon Johnson

The Masters of Music in Conducting at EMU is geared towards students who are curious, eager to learn, hardworking, and passionate about developing their craft. Primary emphasis is placed on growth in five key areas: choral literature, score study, gesture, rehearsal technique, and continued development of musical skills (open score piano, vocal development & sight-reading).

MM Conducting students are in weekly lessons, Graduate Choral Seminar, Conductor's Choir and hold leadership positions in EMU Choir, Women's Choir, Express & Men's Choir. The MM experience is a combination of practical leadership, choral scholarship and artistic achievement. In addition to the conducting and scholarly opportunities students are taught the organizational and logistical aspects of leading a thriving and engaged choral program. Students plan tours, organize festivals, create video and audio recordings, manage the choral library and are actively involved in every aspect of leadership of the choral program. This exposure prepares students to meet the future challenges they will face in the field of choral music.

EMU is known for choral excellence. As such, graduate students have the chance to sing with the internationally-renowned EMU Choir. Our degree program is designed to help you realize your artistic dreams. The development of students artistry are key aspects to uncovering your future.

Every MM student has slightly different aspirations and we will tailor the graduate school experience to what each student needs. While at EMU students may hold Assistant Conductor positions in the EMU Choir, EMU Voices, Campus Choir, EMU A cappella ensembles and Chamber Ensembles and assist Dr. Johnson in teaching Choral Conducting. Each M.M. Conducting student has a tailored degree path to increase success.

All students participate in the Conductors Chorus, a laboratory ensemble dedicated to giving students of all experience in front of the ensemble. MM students have the occasion each year to work with highly acclaimed guest artists. Recent guests have included Jake Runestad, Bruce Chamberlain, Jerry Blackstone, Daniel Bara, Kevin Fenton, Stacey Gibbs, Lee Nelson, Kristina MacMullen and many others.

Apply today




A flexible approach to the degree is possible and while to two-year in residency in encouraged for conductors who desire to pursue D.M.A. degrees and university teaching, one-year residency is possible. Please send an email to Dr. Johnson to see a sample semester-by-semester breakdown and to discuss your specific path.

  • In Residence Track- strongly recommended for all students who are considering D.M.A. studies or university teaching. Students on this track will plan to be in residency at EMU for 4 consecutive semesters. Graduate Assistant positions are most often selected from this track.
  • Secondary Music Education Track- is possible for current music educators who want to to refine their skills. This track is likely to be completed over 10 semesters and it is possible to complete this degree without a residency. It must be demonstrated that ensembles under the students care meet the appropriate artistic requirements. Non-residency students are typically not considered strongly for Graduate Awards, but are ideal fits for students who want to continue Thier artistic growth without relocation.
  • Non-degree seeking Track- if you are interested in coursework pertaining to choral conducting but do not desire an official degree, we would love to visit with you to establish a program for your needs. Perhaps your are a seasoned teacher who has recently been asked to lead a choir or if you are simply ready to expand your knowledge of repertoire, gesture, and score study, we can help.

Audition and Application

Pre-Screening (preference give to pre-screening applications completed by January 15)

  1. Visit the EMU School of Music & Dance Application Page to fill out the EMU Graduate Application and the School of Music Application
  2. Contact Dr. Johnson via email to express your intentions and interest.
  3. Submit a 10-15 minute video of your conducting and rehearsing to Dr. Johnson for review.  
  4. Submit a video demonstrating 2-5 minutes of vocalize and one performance of an art song/aria in the language of the candidates choosing.

On-Campus Interview

  1. A short list of candidates will be invited to campus. The on-campus audition typically takes place during the March 12 Audition Date.  If this date is problematic please reach out to Dr. Johnson to see if an alternate is feasible.
  2. Each student will be given the opportunity to conduct the EMU Choir during the 15-20 minute audition. Candidates will be asked to demonstrate a working knowledge of helpful rehearsal techniques, gesture and musicological aspects of each work. 
  3. Candidates will take a theory placement exam and may be asked to sing for the voice faculty based on the submitted recording.
  4. Each student will meet with Dr. Johnson privately to discuss the program in detail and explore 

Graduate Awards

Generous Graduate Assistantships will be awarded to qualified students.  Although full awards are possible, half awards are most common for MM Conducting Students. For more detailed information visit the Graduate School website.

Contact Us

A flexible approach to the degree is possible and while to two-year in residency in encouraged for conductors who desire to pursue D.M.A. degrees and university teaching, one-year residency is possible. Contact Dr. Johnson to discuss your specific path.