The School of Music at The University of Iowa offers the Master of Arts and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in wind conducting. The graduate wind conducting program strives to provide students with diverse experiences which will enable them to develop as well-rounded conductors, capable of leading all aspects of a sophisticated band program at any level.
Graduate wind conducting majors receive a weekly hour-long private lesson each semester they are on campus. The content of the lessons depends on the background, ability and interest of each individual conductor, but the focus is on the refinement of conducting craft as well as the development of artistry through the study of significant wind band and chamber works. Study works comprise the core of traditional and contemporary wind band and chamber music literature. Students are required to regularly video record rehearsals and performances for self-evaluation as well as evaluation during applied lessons.
One of the strengths of the program at Iowa is the substantial amount of podium time that is afforded our graduate conducting students. Each semester throughout the degree program our graduate conducting students are assigned to conduct various university ensembles including the Symphony Band, Chamber Winds, Concert Band, and University Band.
Students participate in the Seminar in Advanced Band Literature and History each semester they are on campus. Seminar topics vary from semester to semester but focus is given to the historical development of the band and its repertoire from the 16th century to today, significant wind band composers (past and present) and their representative works, wind band and chamber masterworks, and conducting-related considerations such as score study, interpretation, rehearsal techniques, advanced gestures, programming, assessment, etc. Also, during each spring semester, students select, research, and present to the seminar a topic that is of interest to them.
The graduate conducting students are an integral part of The University of Iowa Athletic Bands program, which comprise the 250-member Hawkeye Marching Band and Iowa Pep Bands. Graduate students assist with rehearsals, conduct during games, and are given the opportunity to design and teach halftime shows as well as arrange music for performances if interested. These are viewed as essential components of the graduate conducting program, and the complete educational experience at Iowa. Our excellent placement record is a direct result of the breadth of collegiate band experiences we offer, which better prepares our students to lead an advance high school or university band program as well as to be competitive in the marketplace.
Myron D. Welch Conducting Scholarship
In 2013, Dr. and Mrs. Myron Welch established the Myron D. Welch Conducting Scholarship to support continued excellence in the graduate wind band conducting program. Recipients of this award include Steven Riley (2014), Joe Cernuto (2015-18), Josh Neuenschwander (2018-2021), and Myron Peterson (2021-present).
What Former Students Have to Say
“As a conducting student and teaching assistant in the Iowa Bands, I was part of a team of graduate students who became life-long friends. We were encouraged and engaged in facilitating nearly every aspect of a comprehensive university band program while working alongside excellent faculty mentors. The generous podium time with the concert and chamber ensembles combined with immersive athletic band opportunities with the Hawkeye Marching Band and Iowa Pep Band, prepared each of us for the scholarly, administrative, and creative responsibilities and expectations required of collegiate band directors. The University of Iowa graduate conducting program undoubtedly was the most formative experience of my career!”
"The years I spent as a Graduate Teaching Assistant for the University of Iowa Bands were transformative. The faculty has found the perfect balance of challenging students with a rigorous course of study while at the same time employing a patient and a nurturing approach. We were provided with a wide range of opportunities – administration of concert and athletic bands, selection of repertoire, involvement in the creative process for the Hawkeye Marching Band, and conducting concert and chamber ensembles. Every element of the curriculum was designed with the student’s best interests in mind. At the close of my time at Iowa, I felt fully prepared to direct ensembles with clarity and musicality as well as prepare the next generation of conductors."
"After a very enjoyable teaching experience in the public schools of Texas for the past six years, I was ready and excited for a new adventure in my life. The University of Iowa has NOT disappointed. The School of Music and University Band program are second to none with the finest faculty, staff, and students anywhere. The academic classes have been challenging, but extremely rewarding. I am confident that the breadth of experiences I have had, including working with the Hawkeye Marching Band, guest conducting different concert bands, lively discussions on various research topics in our seminar class, and excellent private instruction, will undoubtedly give me the tools necessary to be competitive in the job market."
"Graduate study in conducting at the University of Iowa has prepared me with an outstanding education in which to begin a successful career as a conductor. Within a rigorous academic environment, I have been guided by master teachers who have helped me to develop my gestural facility, score study abilities, and rehearsal technique. As a conducting major, I have been given a plethora of conducting opportunities with a variety of ensembles."
"The DMA Wind Conducting program at the University of Iowa is exactly what a DMA program should be: comprehensive, rigorous, relevant, and rewarding. The depth of experiences prepares conductors to be the artistic, pedagogical, philosophical, and organizational leaders of any academic or professional organization. The breadth of experiences is designed to build an extensive experiential CV that makes each DMA candidate competitive in the job market. The program is led by caring faculty who develop a tailored plan to help all students achieve their professional goals. The combined course of study and teaching assistantship places candidates inside and in front of three concert bands (including the artist-level Symphony Band) and the athletic bands. The synthesis of these experiences turns great DMA candidates into inspirational leaders. While admittedly a tremendous DMA program like this is difficult, I would have it no other way—the greater the challenge, the prouder we can be for earning it."