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UW Department of Music Adds Jazz, Entrepreneurship, Audio Tech Offerings

January 23, 2020
man conducting musicians
UW Director of Jazz Studies Ben Markley leads a rehearsal of the UW Jazz Ensemble. The UW Department of Music will offer a bachelor’s degree of music with emphasis in jazz performance starting this fall. (UW Photo)

The University of Wyoming’s Department of Music will offer one new degree program and two new certificate programs, following action by the UW Board of Trustees.

The board voted Thursday to approve a bachelor’s degree of music with emphasis in jazz performance, a music entrepreneurship certificate and an audio technology certificate beginning in fall 2020. All three will be coordinated by Department of Music Head Scott Turpen.

“We have spent a good deal of time and energy communicating with Department of Music stakeholders, including current students, alumni, faculty and individuals around Wyoming,” Turpen says. “We asked them what they think we are doing well and what improvements could be made to our department. We learned from our stakeholders that we needed to modernize our curriculum and provide course offerings and programs that help prepare UW graduates for music careers in a 21st century job market. These new academic programs are a direct outgrowth of these conversations.”

The degree program will prepare students for a performing career in jazz and/or commercial music. Students will be able to be employed as performing musicians or studio teachers, while also being prepared to seek graduate degrees in jazz studies or commercial music. This degree also could be the first in a path to pursue a career as a professor at the university level.

“Led by Director of Jazz Studies Ben Markley, we have a world-class jazz faculty who are among the best teachers and performers in the field,” Turpen says. “There are a good number of Wyoming students who will now be able to earn this popular degree without leaving our state to pursue it. Considering the quality of our faculty, we also will be able to attract students on a national and international level. This degree helps to broaden and modernize our entire music program.”

The music entrepreneurship certificate will prepare students for careers by providing music marketing principles and practical, hands-on experience that allows one to enter the workforce with a marketable skill set in the areas of arts promotion and management. The certificate will be most easily added to the Bachelor of Arts degree, but it also could be paired with the Bachelor of Music Performance or Bachelor of Music Education degrees.

Nicole Riner, currently a visiting assistant professor within the department, will teach the online classes, as well as oversee the internship for the certificate. Students do not have to be music majors or be enrolled in larger degree programs, and there are no prerequisites for the certificate, which requires 12 credits to complete.

“The music world has changed, and our students need to understand how it has changed in order to be competitive,” Turpen says. “A modern education in music should go beyond fundamental and traditional musicianship skills. The music entrepreneurship certificate will teach skill sets and knowledge of the music business that will help our students succeed.”

The audio technology certificate will provide students a basic understanding of audio principles and practical, hands-on experience that will allow them to enter the commercial music workforce with a marketable skill set. Students will learn how to record and manipulate recorded sounds, as well as provide live sound reinforcement for concerts and events. The certificate can be paired with the same degrees as the music entrepreneurship certificate and also requires 12 credits to complete.

“Students across the University of Wyoming are interested in audio technology,” Turpen says. “An engineering major may be in a country or rock band who wants to learn how to set up live sound equipment for his/her band. Many students play their own music and will be interested in learning how to make quality recordings and how to edit those recordings. Of course, students majoring in music also are interested in these essential skill sets.”

To learn more about all of the Department of Music’s academic offerings, visit

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