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Graduate Wind Conducting

Degrees in Wind Conducting

The University of Kansas offers highly competitive MM and DMA programs in Wind Conducting, giving 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, movement, score study, aural skills, and rehearsal technique. A significant focus is contemporary music and the development of the wind band as a serious artistic medium.

Quality podium time is one of the strong points of our program. We believe advanced conductors learn best by conducting great players often. We keep the studio small with just two to three students at a time so that every graduate student can conduct a piece with EACH of the four concert bands each semester.  All degree recitals are with music major ensembles. Our students have conducted significant repertoire with the Wind Ensemble - including the Husa "Music for Prague", Schwantner "...and the mountains rising nowhere", the Dvorak Serenade, Lincolnshire Posy, Maslanka Symphony #4, Barnes Symphony #3, Maslanka’s “A Child’s Garden of Dreams," and even several commissions and world premieres.  


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. Upload preliminary audition materials and completed graduate teaching assistantship application (online form) to: 

    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. Uploaded a video 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. If you have had difficulty due to COVID, please contact us to inquire what options are accetable.
  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 submitted within the online application, 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 School of Muaic (music@ku.edu), not from the Conducting and Ensembles area.

School of Music Calendar
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
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
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Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.