Music students have performance opportunities from the first semester onward.


Stellar faculty includes 19 members of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Grammy winners and performing and recording artists, augmented by guests such as acclaimed DSO conductor Jaap van Zweden.


Numerous ensembles and programs, including the Meadows Opera Theatre, provide multiple opportunities for performing on and off campus.


Multiple degrees are offered in performance, composition, music therapy, education and more at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Melissa Murchison Murray

OFAC 2004

Melissa Murchison Murray

Lecturer, Music Theory and Associate Director of Music Recruitment

Melissa Murchison Murray is a Lecturer in Music Theory in the Music Division at the Meadows School of the Arts, Southern Methodist University.  Murray began her teaching career at the age of 13.  She professes to be incapable of not teaching. (Ask her children for verification.)

The various forms of her teaching career have spanned the private studio for piano, voice, theory, and composition, the junior and high school classrooms, and the college classroom.  The ultimate challenge for Murray as an educator was homeschooling her three children for their entire educations until they left home for college.  She considers her greatest achievement to be her three extraordinary children, her relationship with them, and her happy marriage to Tom, her husband of 27 years.

Motivated by an enthusiasm for exploring the world and developing her gifts, Murray has free-lanced since leaving college in 1982.  Her performances as an improvising jazz and cabaret pianist and singer have spanned the globe from the U.S. to Europe to Asia. Tom Booth, fellow colleague at SMU, describes her as having “intonation many great singers would kill for." 

Having delight in languages, she has been fluent or near fluent in four languages. 

Murray has numerous compositions and arrangements that have been performed by large and small ensembles at the churches and private schools where she has conducted, composed, directed and performed.  Composer Warren Benson once described Murray as the “consummate doer.”  She enjoys all aspects of music-making, including performing, conducting, adjudicating, directing musicals, and teaching.

Murray, Coordinator of Keyboard Musicianship for the Theory Department, is highly motivated to develop the whole musician, using the keyboard as a strong visual and kinesthetic tool for teaching theory and musicianship skills. Keyboard Musicianship, available online, is a text written by Murray for use in the musicianship classroom, specifically employing the piano to gain a thorough understanding of theory and musicianship concepts.

Murray holds a B.M. from the University of Oklahoma, and a M.M. from Southern Methodist University.  Other studies include three years at the Aspen Music School as well as private instruction at the Juilliard, Mannes, and Manhattan Schools of Music.  Her D.M.A. (University of North Texas) remains incomplete.

Lastly, she likes to throw Beanie Babies at her students and make them laugh both at and with her. 


Music Theory, Musicianship, Elementary Keyboard Improvisation, Music Pathways, F.A.C.E.

Areas of Study



Art History

Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship

Communication Studies

Creative Computation


Film and Media Arts



Welcome to the Division of Music

About the Division of Music

Undergraduate Studies

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