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First Graduates of New M.M. in Theory Pedagogy Program Enter the Marketplace

SMU Meadows education opens doors for 2015 grad Uriah Rinzel

SMU Meadows Division of Music has a sterling reputation, as new alumnus Uriah Rinzel is discovering. Rinzel graduated with an M.M. in theory pedagogy and M.M. in music composition in May 2015, and by mid-summer he landed faculty positions at two Dallas area colleges.

“The connections and Meadows name recognition seem to go a long way,” he says. “Those who have interviewed me hold my SMU education in high esteem.”

Rinzel now serves as adjunct professor of music theory at Austin College in Sherman, Texas, teaching Theory II and Ear Training II ad interim for a professor currently on sabbatical. “I am also teaching two courses at Dallas Baptist University in Dallas,” he says. “I teach an Aural Skills I class and an Advanced Songwriting class for their music business/songwriting degree program.”

Mark Feezell, senior lecturer in music theory and composition at SMU Meadows, says landing any teaching position at a university prior to earning a doctorate is a great achievement. “Our field is extremely competitive,” says Feezell. “Uriah’s accomplishments are a testimony not only to his abilities and work ethic, but also to the synergy that occurs when eager theory pedagogy graduate students, talented undergraduate music majors and passionate, experienced faculty learn and teach together.”

One of only three theory pedagogy master’s programs in the U.S.

When SMU’s music program was first established in 1915, only one degree, a Bachelor of Music, was offered. Now, 20 music degrees are available to the 300+ undergraduate and graduate students in the Division of Music.

The newest degree, developed in 2012 by Director of the Division of Music David Mancini, is the M.M. in theory pedagogy. “Teaching has always been a top priority of the music faculty at Meadows,” says Mancini. “A program in music theory pedagogy is a natural outgrowth of that priority.” One of only three such degrees offered in the U.S., the Meadows M.M. in theory pedagogy offers teaching and research experiences in preparation for Ph.D. work in theory or theory pedagogy and for teaching theory in private, secondary and university settings. In addition, the degree extends the range of courses offered at Meadows and provides a practical second major option for students in other programs.

Rinzel says his experience with the program prepared him well for a teaching career. “The master’s program gave me a broad understanding of theory pedagogy and some practical experience as a music theory professor,” he says. “My work alongside my theory professors and their availability to talk about projects and different ideas helped me grow as a theory pedagogue.”

Rinzel cites Feezell and Professor Melissa Murray as theory teachers of influence. “I gleaned from them how preparation and work ethic translate into passion for training students,” he says. “And Dr. Mancini’s ideas about theory and musicianship training have been foundational for my thinking about music theory.”

Rinzel speaks just as highly of his composition professors, including Kevin Hanlon and Robert Frank. “They were available above and beyond to help me on my composing,” says Rinzel. “They encouraged me in my music theory pedagogy knowledge and instilled confidence in my ability to talk fluently about music.”

Feezell says the M.M. in theory pedagogy is a great asset not only for its own sake. “Many students view it as a valuable career tool to combine with another M.M. degree such as composition, performance or education,” he says. “The possibility of earning two outstanding M.M. degrees, in many cases by taking only an additional 10 hours, is a rare strength among graduate music programs in the United States.”

Read more about the M.M. in Theory Pedagogy and SMU Meadows’ 14 graduate degree programs. Hear samples of Uriah Rinzel’s original compositions.

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