Music Theory


Large enough to offer great teaching and learning, yet small enough that our students matter, the Music Theory Pedagogy program at SMU offers one of the best opportunities nationwide to sharpen your skills as a Music Theory teacher. Our faculty focus is to mentor students in the  pursuit of teaching excellence!

Meet Our Faculty

Mark Feezell Mark Feezell

Mark Feezell

Senior Lecturer in Music Theory and Composition,
Co-Chair of Music Theory and Composition

Michael Lively Michael Lively

Michael Lively

Senior Lecturer in Music Theory

Melissa Murray Melissa Murray

Melissa Murray

Senior Lecturer, Music Theory


Master of Music in Theory Pedagogy 

Throughout their course of study, theory pedagogy students gain theoretical knowledge and practical experience under the guidance and supervision of a dedicated faculty with many years of experience teaching music theory at the secondary and college levels. Students have the opportunity to work with small undergraduate classes in music theory and musicianship as individual and small-group tutors, classroom assistants, and instructors. All student teaching is carefully supervised, observed, and evaluated by experienced faculty.

Admission is very selective for the theory pedagogy degree program, and students are offered considerable individual attention, direct access to facilities, and the camaraderie that only an exceptional program of small size can offer. Students wishing to look into the distinctive opportunities for study at Southern Methodist University are encouraged to apply early.

Applicants for the Master of Music in Theory Pedagogy must apply to the Meadows School of the Arts and submit samples of their writing (essays or term papers). A personal interview with department faculty is strongly recommended.

Complete the graduate application online  

Scholarships and Financial Assistance

If undergraduate need-based financial aid is desired, the FAFSA and CSS Profile must be completed. All applicants are considered for academic and music scholarships. We will do our best to provide a financial aid package that makes an education in the Meadows School of the Arts affordable.

Graduate financial assistance is available through merit scholarships, graduate assistantships, and work-study positions. The FAFSA is required for work-study and graduate assistantships.


Applicants will interview with faculty via Zoom and will receive information on how to register for the interview. Applicants will submit an audition video without meeting faculty or participating in music audition days. Music Education, Music Therapy, or Music Composition applicants submitting a recorded audition will be emailed information about registering for an interview with faculty.

Start Your Meadows Application


Multi-Linear Continuity and 'Songs to the Dark Virgin' by Florence Price

Michael Lively recently published an article in volume 63 of College Music Symposium.

Read More

Alumni Spotlight

Emily Townsend

Emily Townsend is a viola teacher and freelance musician in Dallas, Texas.


Uriah Rinzel, Assistant Professor of Music Theory, Composition and Songwriting, Dallas Baptist University

Nathan Courtright

Nathan Courtright, Adjunct Assistant Professor, SMU

Derrick Horne with guitar

Derrick Horne, Professor of Practice, SMU

Berklee College of Music Valencia alumnus
2 Intel Game Awards
First prize for best film music: California Independent Film Festival and Indie Gathering International Film Festival
Telly Award for best commercial music

Guido Arcella '14

Chicago Opera Theater's Vanguard Emerging Composer-in-Residence
Composition fellow with LA Philharmonic Orchestra
Winner - Tennessee Valley Music Festival Young Composers Competition
Music performed by: Mostly Modern Orchestra, Euclid Quartet, Aperture Duo, and members of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Gillian Rae Perry ’17

Winner of The American Prize for her SMU Masters thesis Submerged Worlds (Pierrot ensemble)
First prize in the 2013 Japan Guitar Ensemble Composition Competition
First prize winner of the Austin Classical Guitar Society Composition Competition

Olga Amelkina-Vera ’17

Performance at the 2021 International Horn Symposium by members of the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
ASCAP Morton Gould Award finalist
International Trombone Festival Composers Workshop

Ethan Gurwitz ’22

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