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Musical Arts / Teacher Education

The Blair School of Music serves as a focal point at Vanderbilt for the study of music as a human endeavor and as a performing art. The school enrolls students from over thirty-five states and foreign countries.

The Teacher Education Program

The Teacher Education Program is offered jointly by the Blair School of Music and Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of Education. Students completing the program earn the Bachelor of Music (B.Mus.) degree, majoring in musical arts/teacher education: vocal or instrumental general for four years; and then the Master of Education (M.Ed.) degree, which requires one calendar year, June through May. Application to Peabody College for the M.Ed. program is made during the student’s senior year at Blair. Students may elect to work toward licensure in either instrumental/general or vocal/general music.  The curriculum is carefully designed to prepare students for Licensure K-12 in the state of Tennessee, and other states as well if the student chooses to make application elsewhere.

The innovative curriculum includes a strong music performance emphasis; a solid foundation in music literature, theory, musicianship and keyboard harmony, conducting, and the liberal arts; undergraduate and graduate courses in psychology and education; and practica (practical experience) for a semester in three of the four undergraduate years and two student teaching opportunities in the spring semester of the master’s degree work. Practica constitute a wide variety of experiences, including public school, private school, and Blair’s pre-collegiate programs such as Suzuki Strings, Blair Children’s Chorus, and Nashville Youth Symphony.

The liberal arts core is adapted to fulfill state licensure requirements for professional educators. The music electives ordinarily associated with the musical arts curriculum are generally devoted to prerequisites for the M.Ed. degree and licensure. Although electives are limited, careful planning offers many possibilities for students (the first MA5 student did study abroad in the spring of 2013). Course offerings include Philosophical Foundations and Contemporary Issues in Music Teaching; Methods and Materials in Instrumental Music, Pre-K through 12; Introduction to Brass, Strings, Woodwinds, and Percussion; Methods and Materials in Vocal/General Music, Pre-K through 12; and Child and Adolescent Voices.


The Blair building incorporates innovative developments in acoustical design and engineering. It contains teaching studios, classrooms, practice rooms, library, administrative offices, a large electronic piano lab, instrumental and choral rehearsal halls, the 272-seat Steve and Judy Turner Recital Hall, and the  609-seat Ingram Hall which includes full staging capability with orchestra pit, orchestra shell, full lighting/sound systems, and opera scene shop.

The Anne Potter Wilson Music Library is a division of the Jean and Alexander Heard Library system. It is a central gathering place with plentiful spaces for study and contemplation, where researchers collaborate with the music library staff to discuss methods of accessing resources and information in the field of music. The current collections contain over 95,000 items, including scores, recordings, videos, books, journals and numerous online resources.

Other Special Opportunities

Students may participate in a wide variety of large and small ensemble experiences, including Vanderbilt Orchestra, Vanderbilt Wind Symphony, Symphonic Choir, Vanderbilt Chorale, Vanderbilt Opera Theatre, Big Band, Fiddle Ensemble, Steel Drum/Pan Ensemble, Sankofa (African Performing Ensemble), and Percussion Ensemble.

The Blair School of Music sponsors a variety of concert series that offer solo, chamber music, and large ensemble performances to the University community and the Middle Tennessee area. The Blair Concert Series provides exceptional programming through the Faculty Signature Series, BMI Composer-in-Residence Series, Nightcap Series and Music on Film Series. National and international artists and ensembles, the Blair faculty, including resident ensembles and soloists, and student ensembles and performers are all featured. Weekly student recitals, junior and senior solo recitals, and senior composition recitals are free and open to the public. More than 300 concerts are presented at the school each year.

Internationally known performers visit the Blair School frequently to perform and give master classes. Some recent artists include Thomas Hampson, baritone; Emanuel Ax, pianist; the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet; Kim Kashkashian, violist; Laurence Lesser, cellist; and Sō Percussion. The BMI Composer-in-Residence program, sponsored by Broadcast Music, Inc., brings visiting composers to campus every year for a three-day residency. Composers-in-residence have included William Bolcom, George Crumb, Lukas Foss, John Harbison, Karel Husa, Joseph Schwantner, Frank Ticheli, Michael Torke, and Joan Tower.

Students at the Blair School engage in research and creative expression in many different ways. Each summer several are involved in the VU Summer Research Program (VUSRP). Throughout the academic year students can enroll for credit to work one-on-one with faculty mentors in an independent study, a thesis in musicology, a junior thesis in composition, an honors thesis in musicology, a recital, and other collaborative projects in the arts. 

Recent student projects include:

  • A study of Sondheim’s setting of language to music, and the composition of a new musical theatre work based on the findings
  • Researching music and the mind, with a focus on using music to help veterans with PTSD
  • Organizing a concert to celebrate the 140th birthday of Charles Ives, featuring Blair faculty and student performers
  • Investigating current trends in audience engagement in classical music in order to understand best practices for increasing and expanding engagement

 Students may also gain valuable experience by receiving academic credit for an internship. Opportunities are available throughout Nashville in the academic year, or students may intern anywhere in the summer. Students have interned at: Nashville recording studios, National Public Radio, the Nashville Symphony, the National Music Festival, and the Washington National Opera.


Blair School of Music is home to internationally known faculty soloists and ensembles, and Blair’s performers, composers, ethnomusicologists, and musicologists are among the most respected in their fields. Their dedication to teaching and a low student/faculty ratio provide students the personal attention that fosters maximum musical growth and understanding.

Contact for Teacher Education Program Questions

Tucker Biddlecombe
Coordinator of the Teacher Education Program
Email: tucker.biddlecombe@vanderbilt.edu
Phone:  615-322-5801

Contact for Blair Admissions Questions

Thomas Crespo and Molly Jewell
Blair School of Music
2400 Blakemore Ave
Nashville, TN 37212
Phone: (615) 322-6181
Email: blair.inquiries@vanderbilt.edu

Musical Arts / Teacher Education Website