Master of Sacred Music - MSM
The Master of Sacred Music Program in Choral Conducting, Organ or Voice
The Master of Sacred Music (MSM) is a degree program situated in the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame with major participation from faculty in the Department of Music. The purpose of this Master's degree is to train professional musicians for work in the Christian churches, at a time when there is a well-established need for skilled musicians who understand the liturgy and know how to work with pastors/priests and within congregations. Graduates of the program are also well-prepared for administrative and teaching positions, for work in the media, and for doctoral study in music and a variety of related disciplines. The program is broadly ecumenical, but gives specific attention to Roman Catholic traditions and practice, as well as to the particular needs of the Catholic Church in the United States. The MSM is designed to take full advantage of Notre Dame's distinguished ecumenical faculty in Liturgical Studies, giving students unique training in this subject area. Following the principles of the document Music in Catholic Worship, the program is multi-disciplinary embracing in particular three dimensions: musical, liturgical, and pastoral. The program strives to integrate these three dimensions grounding the student professionally in liturgical music as a ministry.
The Master of Sacred Music program, founded less than 10 years ago by Rev. Professor Michael Driscoll and other ND faculty, is one of Notre Dame’s great success stories. In the first year only three students were admitted, and this year there are 17 matriculating students. Because of Notre Dame’s world-renowned strengths in liturgical studies and theology, our students are trained not only in musical performance and music history but also receive grounding in the subjects that develop the pastoral dimension of their vocation.
The Sacred Music M.S.M. degree is a two-year 48-credit-hour degree, consisting of courses in sacred music, liturgical studies, and applied music. Students apply in one of three concentrations: (1) Organ; (2) Choral Conducting; (3) Voice. Although mastery of the chosen field is required, students are encouraged to gain expertise in all three areas. The expectation is that every graduate will be a well-rounded church musician, possessing requisite skills in playing, conducting, and singing necessary to shape music programs in the churches of most Christian denominations. Every student is offered the opportunities to become sophisticated in the uses of modern technology, which may include ways of using media in planning worship and/or making short films and appealing websites to strengthen community and improve outreach.
There are three areas that come together in each student’s curriculum:
- Each student develops performance skills in the studio of a master teacher. Organists study with Dr. Craig Cramer, conductors with Dr. Carmen-Helena Tellez, and vocalists with Dr. Stephen Lancaster.
- Students also take classes with the distinguished faculty in the Department of Music, several of whom specialize in sacred music, including Mary Frandsen (Baroque), Alex Blachly (Renaissance), Peter Jeffery (chant and early Christian music), Margot Fassler (medieval music and American music), Paul Walker (Organ), and Tala Jarjour (World Music and Ethnomusicology). All students also learn from Notre Dame’s superb liturgical scholars in the Department of Theology, including Michael Driscoll, Maxwell Johnson, Margot Fassler, David Fagerberg, Paul Bradshaw, and Peter Jeffery.
- Each student has a placement that puts them in interaction with musical and liturgical faith communities. Experienced practitioners in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, in Notre Dame dormitories, and in local churches mentor the MSM students. The community is greatly enriched by the presence of these exceptionally talented and dedicated young men and women.
The Master of Sacred Music (M.S.M.) is an applied program that prepares students for pastoral liturgical music ministry. The Program in Sacred Music is part of a larger Initiative for Liturgy and Sacred Arts at Notre Dame, but it is the only part of the initiative that is degree-granting at this point in time.
Frequently asked Questions about the MSM Program