The newest academic major at Central Methodist University is a natural: a major in Music Ministry.
CMU already has its acclaimed Swinney Conservatory of Music, numerous music degree options, and many vocal and instrumental performance opportunities. As a church-affiliated college with rich musical traditions, the Music Ministry program makes sense, according to CMU President Roger Drake.
“This new program leverages the abilities of our Swinney Conservatory faculty, our talented religion and philosophy faculty, and the technical expertise and generosity of one of our distinguished alumni,” Drake said.
“This program is made possible only by and through the gifts of superb recording and sound equipment provided by Dr. Bruce (CMU Class of 1965) and Kathleen Maier,” Drake added.
“Thanks to Bruce and Kathleen, CMU now has capabilities in recording and sound engineering like no other college or university.”
Music Ministry majors will earn the Bachelor of Music degree from CMU, as do many music performance majors at Central. Others pursue the Bachelor of Music Education degree to become music teachers, and still others work toward a Bachelor of Arts degree in music.
But Music Ministry graduates will have a different emphasis, according to CMU Fine and Performing Arts division chair Dr. Dori Waggoner.
Students in the program will focus on musical and technical aspects or worship leadership, Waggoner noted. New coursework in music business, music technology, commercial music theory and commercial arranging will provide students with the education needed to begin their careers.
Directors of music in medium- to large-sized churches, worship leaders, youth program leaders, creative arts directors and church musicians are examples of the types of positions Music Ministry grads will fill. Music Ministry is a relatively new field, and research conducted by CMU staff indicates there are more jobs than trained people to fill them.
Existing coursework within CMU’s music and religious studies curricula will round out their preparation, according to Ryan McLouth, CMU assistant director for its Center for Faith and Service. McLouth worked with Waggoner to develop the new program.
And while Music Ministry takes a different approach than other CMU music programs, instrumental and vocal performance opportunities will be very much a part of the lives of its students, McLouth said.
The popularity of CMU’s Worship Team – a group of students under McLouth’s direction who rehearse and perform music with a religious theme, and under the auspices of the Center for Faith and Service – is a clear indication of interest. The Worship Team has already represented the University in churches and other assemblies, and that outreach will only grow.
Drake’s expectation is that United Methodist Churches around the state of Missouri will be seeing and hearing CMU Music Ministry majors and other musicians. The idea is to send groups of students out to perform during worship services, youth meetings and other church-related activities.