Melissa Murchison Murray


Senior Lecturer in Music Theory




Melissa Murchison Murray is a senior lecturer in music theory in the Division of Music at SMU Meadows School of the Arts, a pianist and a singer.

The various forms of her teaching career have included the private studio for piano, voice, theory, and composition, the junior high and high school classroom, the college classroom and the kitchen table. The ultimate challenge for Murray as an educator was homeschooling her three children, K-12. She considers her greatest achievement to be her three extraordinary children, her relationship with them, and her happy marriage to Tom, her husband of 34 years.

Motivated by an enthusiasm for exploring the world and developing her gifts, Murray has free-lanced since leaving college in 1982. Her performances have spanned the globe from the U.S. to Europe to Asia as an improvising jazz/cabaret pianist/singer. She has also done considerable church music, playing, singing, directing musicals and choirs. Having delight in languages, she has been fluent or near fluent in four languages. She continues to play and sing, working in the Dallas area.

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. Warren Benson once described Murray as the “consummate doer.” She enjoys all aspects of music-making including performing, conducting, recording, adjudicating, directing musicals and teaching.

Tom Booth, retired assistant principal trumpet of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and a colleague at SMU, describes her as having “intonation many great singers would kill for.”

As coordinator of keyboard musicianship for the Music Theory Department, Murray 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 is her first effort to develop a text 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 an M.M. from SMU. Her D.M.A. (UNT) remains incomplete. Other studies include three years at the Aspen Music School as well as private instruction at the Juilliard, Mannes, and Manhattan Schools of Music.

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

Melissa Murray