Students around the Colorado Mesa University campus can usually hear the music coming from the Moss Performing Arts building. Which is home to the music and theater departments. Within the music department, there are the four programs to consider. Students can study vocals, instruments or the industry in general. Three of the degrees are professional degrees, and the last one is the liberal arts degree.

“The professional degrees are most popular and largest of the three is the music education degree,” Calvin Hofer, music department head said.

This degree prepares students to teach in public and private schools in band, orchestra and choir.

“I haven’t done an analysis, but almost 50 percent of teachers in district 51 are alumns and around 50 percent of teachers in Montrose are alumns,” Hofer said.

Bachelor of music and performance is a degree for students who want to make a living in performing.

“The old school version of that used to be a conservatory approach where students were trained to go out and get a job in an orchestra, but that’s not happening anymore in the 21st century,” Hofer said. “We are training our students to develop a variety of skills and different styles and genres and the ability to develop numerous streams of income.” They do this by involving music and business but with an emphasis in performing. This type of focus in the degree is a national movement across the country.

“There are still a ton of schools who are still looking backwards not forwards,” Hofer said. “We are looking forwards here.”

Another way the department is looking forward is by pushing the students to run their own concerts at alternative venues. The department took their jazz night ensemble to warehouse 2565 which has a venue called “Venue” last year, and will do it again this year.

“We did it last year and it was packed. This [performing in alternative venues] is done a lot in jazz, but not so much in classical,” Hofer said.

They are promoting the CMU classical musicians to branch out to these alternative venues. This semester they are bringing in a guest artist, Sarah Robinson, a flute player from Los Angeles. She created the Helix Collective which is a group of musicians who create small ensembles that perform in clubs. She even wrote a book called “Clubbing for Classical Musicians.”

“I want to bring her here and teach our students how to do that,” Hofer said.

The department teamed up with 13 Bricks Cider Bistro in Palisade. They will be hosting a student concert and Robinson will attend and perform her recital as well.

“The end result will be that our students produce their own concerts next spring at alternative venues,” Hofer said. “They have to talk to the owner, they have to produce it, market it, create the program and do everything. We will start doing that as part of our curriculum.”

Bachelor of music with elective studies in business from another degree. This is another unique quality of CMU music program. Not all schools have a music business degree. It is a music degree that is two credits short of a business minor. The students graduate with an entrepreneur certificate. This is for those who want to work in the music industry, but don’t specifically want to perform.

“Anything related to music other than performing, that’s what we are training those students to do. They come out with a strong sense of business,” Hofer said.

Two specific music business classes that the department offers are: music in business and industry and entrepreneurship for creatives. Entrepreneurship is how to sell yourself or someone else as a performer. This includes “artist management, retail working in a music store, management in working for the symphony, being an executive director in a symphony. We also teach our music majors how to build a studio for teaching and manage that as a business,” Hofer said. Basically, anything related to the music business industry is what that degree is geared for.

The liberal arts degree is called Bachelor of arts and music. 33 percent is a music degree, 33 percent is essential learning courses and the last percentage is up to the students to chose.

“They build their own 3rd of a degree,” Hofer said. This can also lead to students in this degree to double major. “It’s a very flexible degree that’s geared for students that are maybe not sure what they want to do or they are very sure what they want to do and build the degree the way they want it,” Hofer said.

There is also another new degree in the works. This would be the bachelor of musical arts degree and would surround contemporary and commercial music. 

This will be geared for those students, like guitar players that don’t want to study classical music, but have a strong background in garageband or might be in a band. Or singers who don’t want to sing Mozart, but they want to sing Alicia Keys. And we can help train them,” Hofer said. A large concern with vocals is singing in a healthy way. Hofer referred to a singer who had to cancel part of a tour because of vocal nodes.

“We are trying to become a department of all music. That’s where we are headed,” Hofer said. “It’s very exciting and hopefully students will put together bands and go out and maybe they will do a few gigs or maybe develope a tour. It all depends on how far they take it.” CMU would be one of the few schools that are incorporating this sort of degree into their program.

The CMU institution supports their arts. Hofer explained how some university websites do not have an arts tab on the top like CMU does.

“The support of the institution is fantastic,” Hofer said.

Along with the support from CMU, Hofer believes that the students are the best part.

“They are wonderful people,” Hofer stated. “There is an attitude around here of working hard and practicing your craft. And the expectation is that is what you are going to do. That took a while to build. If the students were not here, the faculty wouldn’t be and we wouldn’t have these awesome facilities.”

To check out and plan for upcoming performances CMU students can go to the website and the music department page. They do have upcoming concerts, and the alternative venue performances are open to all community and students.

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Laura Huwa
Laura Huwa is a junior majoring in mass communication. Laura is also minoring in dance and exercise science. This is Laura's first year with the Criterion. She has had previous experience with her high school newspaper, The Columbine Rebellion. She cycled through being an editor and writer for every section. Laura is looking forward to working as the Art&Life editor for The Criterion.


  1. I’m so glad to see an article about our wonderful music programs! I am a Music/Liberal Arts major and have absolutely enjoyed the experience and flexibility this major has given me. It has allowed me to learn voice, guitar, and piano from a modern perspective


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