USC Thornton School of Music

The ensembles and orchestras at USC Thornton feature some of the nation’s most accomplished young musicians, such as Sarah Davis, Master of Music student and winner of the national Lyon & Healy harpist competition. USC Thornton consistently ranks among the top one percent of the nation’s music schools, and combines a conservatory-style education with the benefits of a top research university.

Since its founding in 1884, the USC Thornton School of Music has become the center of higher education in music in the western United States and ranks among the top schools of music in the nation. Situated in the heart of the vital musical life of Los Angeles, USC Thornton brings together a distinguished faculty and gifted students from around the world. It is in this wonderfully diverse cultural milieu that students are offered instruction in virtually all professional and scholarly branches of music, including instrumental and vocal performance, jazz, early music, conducting, composition, film scoring, music industry, musicology, music education, pedagogy, popular music performance, choral and sacred music, conducting and opera. In addition to its major programs, USC Thornton also offers a wide array of music minors and general interest courses for students majoring in other disciplines.

The USC Thornton Symphony, Chamber Choir, Concert Choir, Opera, Wind Ensemble, Trojan Marching Band, Jazz Orchestra, Contemporary Music Ensemble, Early Music Ensemble and a wide variety of large and small choral and instrumental ensembles assure students the broadest performing experience. More than 500 formal and informal concerts and recitals are presented on campus each year and the school regularly presents eminent visiting artists and scholars in master classes, workshops, lectures, seminars and in performance.

Los Angeles is the home of numerous musical organizations whose performances contribute immeasurably to the cultural life of the region, and also the home of the nation’s major recording, radio, film and television industries. All offer abundant opportunities to the serious young musician.

Music Student Affairs

Marcia Lucas Post Production Building 200
(213) 740-4721
FAX: (213) 740-5950
Director: Debra Penberthy

Music Admissions

Marcia Lucas Post Production Building 200
(213) 740-8986
FAX: (213) 740-8995
Assistant Dean: Phillip Placenti

Doctoral Programs

Music Faculty Building 415
(213) 740-2774
FAX: (213) 740-2714
Associate Dean: Debora Huffman

Choral Music

Music Faculty Building 416
(213) 740-7418
Chair: Jo-Michael Scheibe

Classical Guitar

Marcia Lucas Post Production Building 115
(213) 740-7399
Chair: Brian Head


Music Faculty Building 416
(213) 740-7416
Chair: Donald Crockett


Music Faculty Building 308
(213) 740-7416
Chair: Larry Livingston

Jazz Studies

Marcia Lucas Post Production Building 115
(213) 740-3119

Keyboard Studies

Ramo Hall of Music 112
(213) 740-7703
Chair: Alan Smith


Music Faculty Building 308
(213) 740-3211
Chair: Joanna Demers

Music Education

Music Faculty Building 416
(213) 740-3211

Music Industry

Marcia Lucas Post Production Building 117
(213) 740-3224
Chair: Richard McIlvery


Ramo Hall of Music 112
(213) 740-7703
Director: Ladd Thomas

Popular Music Performance

Marcia Lucas Post Production Building 117
(213) 740-3244
Director: Christopher Sampson


Ramo Hall of Music 112
(213) 740-7703
Chair: Midori Goto

Studio Guitar

Marcia Lucas Post Production Building 115
(213) 740-7399
Chair: Frank Potenza

Vocal Arts

Ramo Hall of Music 112
(213) 740-7704
Chair: Elizabeth Hynes

Winds and Percussion

Music Faculty Building 308
(213) 740-7416
Chair: Terry Cravens

Keyboard Collaborative Arts

Ramo Hall of Music 112
(213) 740-7703
Director: Alan Smith

Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television

Marcia Lucas Post Production Building 118
(213) 821-4192
Director: TBA

All departments may be reached by writing to:

USC Thornton School of Music
Music Faculty Building
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0851
FAX: (213) 740-3217


Robert A. Cutietta, D.Ed., Dean

Jeffrey de Caen, MBA, Associate Dean for Operations

Debora L. Huffman, Ed.D., Associate Dean for Doctoral Programs

Susan Miltner Lopez, MBA, Associate Dean for Administration and Finance

Erica Muhl, DMA, Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs

Christopher Sampson, M.M., Associate Dean for Division of Popular Music and Industry Studies

A. Phoenix Delgado, M.M., Assistant Dean for Advancement

Brian Head, M.M., Assistant Dean for Curriculum

Phillip Placenti, M.P.A., Assistant Dean for Admission and Student Affairs


Jascha Heifetz Chair in Music and Distinguished Professor of Strings/Harp: Midori Goto, M.A.

Bowen H. “Buzz” McCoy and Barbara M. McCoy Endowed Chair in Jazz at the Flora L. Thornton School of Music, Honoring President Steven B. Sample, 10th President of the University of Southern California: Bob Mintzer, B.A.

Gregor Piatigorsky Chair in Violoncello: Ralph Kirshbaum, B.A.

H. Robert Reynolds Chair in Wind Conducting: H. Robert Reynolds, M.M.

Alice and Eleanore Schoenfeld Endowed Chair in String Instruction: Alice Schoenfeld, Dipl.

Stephen Crocker Professor of Music: Rod Gilfry, M.M.

Distinguished Professor of Composition: Morten Lauridsen, DMA*

Distinguished Professor of Composition: Stephen Hartke, Ph.D.

Professors: Arthur C. Bartner, Ed.D.*; Bruce Brown, Ph.D.; Terry Cravens, DMA; Donald Crockett, Ph.D.*; Robert A. Cutietta, D.Ed.; Kevin Fitz-Gerald, Art. Dipl.; Gary Glaze, M.M.; Stewart Gordon, DMA; Norman Krieger, Dipl.; Frederick Lesemann, DMA*; Larry Livingston, M.M.; Thom Mason, DMA; Ronald McCurdy, Ph.D.; Richard McIlvery, M.M.; Donald McInnes, M.M.; Erica Muhl, DMA; Tim Page, B.A.; Alan Pasqua, B.M.; John Perry, M.M.*; Daniel Pollack, M.S.*; Frank Potenza, M.M.; Jo-Michael Scheibe, DMA; Bryan Simms, Ph.D.*; Alan Smith, DMA; Richard Smith, M.M.; John Thomas, M.M.; Ladd Thomas, D.Mus.; Frank Ticheli, DMA

Associate Professors: Ken Cazan, BFA; Joanna Demers, Ph.D.; Yehuda Gilad, Dipl.; Adam Gilbert, Ph.D.; Elizabeth Hynes, B.M.; Robert Moore, Ph.D.; Cynthia Munzer, B.M.

Assistant Professors: Rod Gilfry, M.M.; Cristian Grases, DMA; Beatriz Ilari, Ph.D.; David Moore, B.M.; Mina Yang, Ph.D.

Professors of Practice: Peter Erskine; Boyde Hood, M.M.; Joel Timm, DMA; James Walker, B.M.E.

Associate Professors of Practice: Bernadene Blaha, M.M.; Lucinda Carver, DMA; Mark Goldstein, J.D.; Henry Gronnier, Art. Dipl.; Brian Head, M.M.; Ken Lopez, B.A.; Brent McMunn, M.M.; Richard Schmunk, DMA; Brian Shepard, DMA; Nick Strimple, DMA; Scott Tennant, M.M.; John Whitener, DMA

Assistant Professors of Practice: Steven Cunningham, B.S.; Andrew Garver, B.S.*; Rotem Gilbert, DMA; Susan Helfter, DMA; William Kanengiser, M.M; Veronika Krausas, DMA; Sharon Lavery, M.M.; Kristy Morrell, DMA; Christopher Sampson, M.M.

Senior Lecturers (Full-time): William Biersach; Patrick Kelley; Antoinette Perry; Christopher Roze; Nick Stoubis; Stephen Trovato; Paul Young

Adjunct Professors: Donald Brinegar; Bruce Broughton; Martin Chalifour; Suzi Digby; Lamont Dozier; Donald Green; Melissa Manchester; Norman Pearson; H. Robert Reynolds; Cherry Rhodes; Pepe Romero; Patrice Rushen; Carl St. Clair; James Self; Jack Smalley; Allan Vogel; William Watrous; Suli Xue; Michele Zukovsky

Adjunct Associate Professors: Judith Farmer; David Howard; Andrew Shulman; James Thatcher; Jo Ann Turovsky; David Weiss

Adjunct Assistant Professors: Jeffrey Allen; David Arnay; James Babor; Margaret Batjer; Jon Burlingame; Leon Ndugu Chancler; Che-Yen Chen; Neal Desby; Susan Feldman; Russell Ferrante; Parmer Fuller; Adam Kofler; Shigemi Matsumoto; Janice McVeigh; Vincent Mendoza; Leah Morrison; Darek Oleszkiewicz; Joseph Pereira; James Rötter; Aaron Serfaty; Robert Sheppard; Kathleen Roland Silverstein; Andrea Stolpe; Alexander Suleiman; Lisa Sylvester; Mark Weiser; Gary Woodward; Robert Young

Adjunct Instructors: Andy Abad; Ted Ancona; Robert Anderson; Adriana Balic; Amy Bowers; Delbert Bowers; Stacy Brightman; Gilbert Castellanos; Paul Chaikin; Joel Clifft; Christina DeMore; Sean Dougall; Barbara Dyer; Bruce Forman; Rachelle Fox; John Fumo; Sara Gazarek; Jason Goldman; Kathleen Grace; Karin Carson; William Hollis; Dean Immel; Alphonso Johnson; Aron Kallay; Dax Kimbrough; Patrick Kirst; Tim Kobza; Edwin Livingston; Mary Mattei; Roy McCurdy; Shawn Mouser; Vicki Muto; Sung-Hwa Park; David Poe; Michael Powers; Otmaro Ruiz; John Schmidt; Gary Schyman; Paul Sherman; Scott Shubeck; William Skeen; Lisa Smith; Douglas Tornquist; Tina Vartanian; Carl Verheyen; David Wilkinson; Tien-Hsin Wu; Shanon Zusman

Emeritus Professors: Nancy Bricard, M.M.*; James Hopkins, Ph.D.; Arend Koole, D.Litt. et Phil.; William A. Schaefer, M.A.; Margaret Schaper, M.M.*; Alice Schoenfeld*; William Thomson, Ph.D.; James Vail, DMA

*Recipient of university-wide or school teaching award.

Degree Programs

The Thornton School of Music offers professional and academic degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. These degrees are summarized below.

Bachelor of Music: Students working toward this professional degree have a wide choice of specializations: composition, music industry, instrumental performance, jazz studies, popular music performance and vocal arts. Students can take either a single major program or double majors in several combinations such as piano and composition, string, or percussion instrument. The two majors must be offered by different departments but lead to the same degree (for example, Bachelor of Music). Double majors consisting of two majors in the same department are not permitted. The degree is granted by the Thornton School of Music.

Bachelor of Arts: This degree is for students with a strong music background but who wish to combine professional music training with substantial study in other disciplines.

Bachelor of Science: Offered by the Thornton School of Music in the specialized area of music industry.

Minors in Music: Seven different minors in music are offered, each approaching the discipline from a unique perspective and with a distinct curriculum: Jazz Studies, Musical Studies (Performance), Musical Theatre, Music Industry, Music Recording, Popular Music Studies, and Songwriting.

Master of Music: This is a professional degree that represents proficiency in one area of musical practice and relevant knowledge in musical literature, performance and technique. It requires a minimum of 30 graduate units, of which 15 must be at the 500 level or higher. Students complete either a thesis or recital(s) as part of the degree requirements. The degree can be earned in choral music, composition, conducting, music education, keyboard collaborative arts, guitar, jazz studies, organ, piano, voice or instrumental performance. The degree is granted by the Thornton School of Music.

Master of Arts: This degree, offered through the Graduate School in conjunction with the Thornton School of Music, stresses music history or early music performance, with emphasis on scholarly research.

Doctor of Musical Arts: This is a professional degree that represents the highest level of expertise in a major field of musical practice and competence in several additional areas. Students may specialize in choral music, composition, jazz studies, music education, vocal or instrumental performance.

Doctor of Philosophy: Offered through the Graduate School, this is an academic degree in the field of historical musicology. A substantial background in music, research and languages is required.

Entrance to the Degree Programs

Admission to a degree program is granted through USC’s admission process, described in the Admission section of this catalogue. A supplementary application form is also required for students seeking admission to the Thornton School of Music, which can be obtained from the School of Music Office of Admission.

Applicants to a program within the school are screened by appropriate faculty selection committees that hold auditions, interviews and examine supportive materials. Letters of acceptance are issued by the USC Office of Admission.


A performance audition is required of applicants to most degree and certificate programs in the Thornton School of Music. Refer to individual curriculum listings for details.

Graduate Record Examinations

Scores from the General Test of the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) are required for application and admission to the Master of Arts, Doctor of Musical Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. (The Music Subject Test is not required.) Test scores on the GRE that are more than five years old at the time of application are not accepted.

Placement Tests

Undergraduate transfer students who have had formal study in any of the following areas must take the appropriate placement examination prior to their first registration: aural skills, theory, music history, conducting, analysis, orchestration and performance. The results of these examinations determine placement in appropriate sequential courses.

Admission to Graduate Standing

Achievement tests in basic musical skills and areas of study (Music Graduate Entrance Examinations) are required of all entering graduate students during the first semester or summer session in residence. If all examinations are not passed by the end of two semesters of course work, then further registration must include remedial courses in all areas where deficiencies exist. In degree programs in which one recital is required, all entrance examinations must be passed or corresponding remedial course work completed with a minimum grade of B- before permission to present a graduate recital is given. In programs with two or more recitals, only the first may be given prior to passing all entrance examinations or completing corresponding remedial courses.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

All applicants whose native language is not English are required to submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Test scores that are more than two years old at the time of application are not accepted.

Advanced Standing Credit for Music Taken in Accredited Schools of Music

Music courses completed with satisfactory grades in a member institution of the National Association of Schools of Music are acceptable for transfer. The university reserves the right, however, to require a student to take a placement test (at no cost) to determine the level of achievement in any given aspect of music, and to review the student’s credentials at the end of one semester at USC to determine what credit will in fact be transferred.

Advanced Standing Credit for Music Not Taken in Accredited Schools of Music

Students who wish credit for music taken in institutions not accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music must provide the Office of Admission with information on their prior work, showing the subjects studied, the number of lessons in each subject, the length of each lesson, number of years of study and the names of instructors. Such special requests are dealt with on an individual basis. Examinations or continuation work or both may be required before credit allowance is considered.

General Requirements

All curricula leading to the Bachelor of Music, Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees require proficiency in performance. This is accomplished by individual instruction in the areas best suited to the student’s ability and interests.

Proficiency in piano is required in all curricula and may be achieved through class and/or individual instruction. Some curricula require competency in one additional performance medium.

Attendance at recitals in the field of the student’s major is a regular part of the work in applied music for all music majors. Attendance at recitals is recommended for non-music majors who take individual instruction as an elective.

Curriculum Requirements

The curriculum requirements for each major are listed under each degree. The USC course classification and numbering system is explained here. In addition, music courses sometimes carry the following abbreviations: CD = Conducting; CG = Classical Guitar; HC = Harpsichord; OR = Organ; P = Piano; SG = Studio Guitar; VA = Viola; VC = Voice Coaching; VO = Voice.

Change of Curriculum

To change from one curriculum to another, a student must obtain written approval of all of the following: the department chair in the curriculum which the student is leaving, the department chair for the new curriculum and the dean of the Thornton School of Music.

Non-Degree Programs

Students who have highly specialized interests which may not be met through degree programs may apply for admission to one of the following non-degree programs.

Artist Diploma Program

This program is designed for young artists of exceptional ability and musical sensitivity who plan careers as solo performers. The Artist Diploma Program provides young artists the opportunity to devote their full time to concentrated study and practice for the duration of their assigned programs. This program typically requires two to three consecutive years of study for completion.

Graduate Certificate Program in Performance

This two-year graduate-level program is designed for students who have completed their undergraduate education in music, or its equivalent, and intend to concentrate their energies on the full-time development of their discipline.

Graduate Certificate Program in Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television

This one-year program is designed for students who hold the Bachelor of Music in Composition or its equivalent. Students in this program must maintain a 3.0 grade point average, with no course grade lower than a C (2.0). Work graded C- or below is not acceptable for credit toward the certificate.

Honor Society

Pi Kappa Lambda

Pi Kappa Lambda is a national honor society established in 1918 for the promotion and recognition of scholarship and performance in music. Students of the School of Music are eligible for election to Eta chapter at the University of Southern California, established in 1923.