• Home
  • Academics
  • Band menu
  • Graduate Wind Conducting

Graduate Wind Conducting

Degrees in Wind Conducting

KU offers cutting edge M.M. and D.M.A. programs in Wind Conducting. These competitive programs offer students the opportunity to conduct a broad range of ensembles in preparation for a professional conducting career. The art of conducting is examined from the perspective of gesture and movement, score study/analysis/ear training, and rehearsal techniques and strategies. A focus is placed on contemporary music and the development of the wind band as a serious artistic medium.

Audition Procedures and Requirements for Graduate Study in Wind Conducting

General Information

It is preferred that all applicants for the Master of Music in conducting degree have two years of successful professional-level conducting experience that can be documented. It is preferred that all applicants for the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting have four years of successful professional-level conducting experience that can be documented. This may include public school teaching, directing a professional or semi-professional ensemble, or other equivalent professional arenas.

Deadline for Applications: December 1

Priority consideration for graduate fellowships and graduate teaching assistantships AND preliminary audition materials:

  1. Complete the Graduate Studies online application »
  2. Send preliminary audition materials and completed graduate teaching assistantship application (doc) to: 

    Jane Gnojek, Graduate Services Coordinator
    School of Music
    450 Murphy Hall
    1530 Naismith Drive
    The University of Kansas
    Lawrence, KS 66045

Preliminary Audition Requirements

  1. A complete application and the applicant’s resume.
  2. A videotape that shows the applicant conducting at least two compositions in performance and two compositions in rehearsal. The conductor must be in full frontal or a partial profile view and at least part of the ensemble must be in view. The repertoire selected for the video must be appropriate to the musical and technical abilities of the ensemble.
  3. A formal analysis (two-pages typed maximum) of a movement from Grainger's Lincolnshire Posy.
  4. A list of three references who can speak to the applicant’s musical abilities. Include name, professional title, relationship to applicant, address, phone number with area code, and email address.

Faculty Review of Materials/Invitation to Audition

Upon faculty review of the materials that are submitted, a limited number of finalists will be invited to audition and interview at the University of Kansas on a specific audition date. If an applicant has been selected as a finalist, they will be notified several weeks prior to the specific audition date. While the auditions take place in February, no applicant should make travel arrangements until they have been invited for a final audition.

Formal Audition

The live audition includes three parts:

  1. An interview with Paul Popiel ppopiel@ku.edu discussing the applicants professional goals, teaching philosophy, and experience.
  2. A musical skills and knowledge diagnostic including aural skills, score recognition, and knowledge of wind/percussion instruments and musical terminology.
  3. A twenty minute audition with the KU Wind Ensemble adjudicated by the heads of the conducting divisions. The audition will begin with a run-through to assess non-verbal communication and gesture. The candidate will then be asked make several adjustments to their conducting. The audition will conclude with the candidate rehearsing the piece in the remaining time.


The applicants will be notified of their status within several weeks of the audition. Assistantships and fellowships notifications will come from the Graduate Studies office, not from the Conducting and Ensembles area.

Current Students in the Wind Conducting Program

Ben Harper

Ben Harper is currently a Graduate Conducting Assistant pursuing a Master of Music degree in Wind Conducting. He recently spent seven years teaching high school band in Iowa, where his ensembles regularly received Superior ratings at local, regional, and state music festivals. Harper served the Iowa Bandmasters Association district as State Marching Band Festival representative, District Honor Band chair, and as a presenter at the state conference. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from Iowa State University, where he performed with the Iowa State Wind Ensemble and Iowa State Symphony Orchestra. Since completing his undergraduate degree, Harper has been a member of the renowned Karl King Band of Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Luke Johnson

Luke D. Johnson is a graduate teaching assistant currently pursuing a D.M.A. in Wind Conducting. Previously, he was director of bands for eight years at Lansing High School in Lansing, Kansas, and prior to that an assistant director for two years in Dodge City, Kansas. Johnson has previously been an adjunct professor of trumpet at Dodge City Community College, an active private trumpet studio, and freelance musician performing in the Kansas City area. He completed his B.A. degree in Music Education at MidAmerica Nazarene University in 2003, and a M.M. with an emphasis in Band Conducting from Kansas State University in 2008.

Chad Simons »

Steven Smyth

Friends of the School of Music

Reach Out Kansas, Inc., Smithyman & Zakoura Chartered and KU Music Concert Series 2014-2015

Music students present hundreds of public concerts every year
Students perform in KU choirs, concert bands, pep bands, ensembles, symphony orchestra, and jazz combos
The school owns one of the greatest jazz record collections in the world
KU Wind Ensemble performed the world premiere of the symphony "In the Shadow of No Towers" at Carnegie Hall
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
26 prestigious Rhodes Scholars — more than all other Kansas colleges combined
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually