Campus News

Graduate School Tips: The Music Department

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For music students considering graduate school, Bethel’s music faculty offers some helpful advice. 

Professor of Music Reg Klopfenstein, D.M., emphasizes the need to prepare now while in undergraduate studies. This creates the foundation that students can establish to do well in their graduate degree and in their jobs. This foundation includes the opportunity to organize your life, finding what to prioritize and what put by the wayside. 

“This may sound a sort of obvious, but…the best thing you can do to prepare for grad school is to get the most out of your undergrad,” Klopfenstein said 

Klopfenstein also emphasized another way for a music student to skillfully master a master’s degree is by being well-rounded while remaining focused and to spend time on the intangibles and all the nitty-gritty course work while being honed in on practicing one’s primary instrument. This is illustrated in Klopfenstein’s experience in graduate studies. He focused on percussion while taking courses in music history.  

“For my master’s degree, I just put lots of time in on my area while I soaked up everything I could…at Indiana University,” Klopfenstein said.  

This contrasts the story of Associate Professor of Music Rob Rhein, D.M.A. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in math, then went for his master’s later. Rhein told of a diagnostic test that undergraduates must take to get into a master’s program. He said that much has changed since 1976 when he went into his program, but the process should work relatively the same. Rhein said they usually give out a book to undergraduates who are looking to get into these schools. It is a refresher on anything that might be on the diagnostic test.  

An encouragement Rhein gave was to shore up any weak areas you have. Rhein mentioned having trouble with Middle Ages and Renaissance when going into any music history course in his master’s program.  

“Find a graduate school that is challenging,” Rhein said, “but find a graduate school that needs warm bodies.” 

Professor of Music Vicky Warkentien, D.M.M., encouraged going to a school that has funding; being able to earn scholarships and leave graduate school without debt is recommended.  

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