The Undergraduate Double Degree Program offers voice majors a unique curriculum that explores the fundamental skills and vast literatures which nourish a successful career in the Vocal Arts. Its team of instructors exemplify diverse perspectives and experience, allowing students to witness the breadth of possibility within this field.
Integrating excellent classical music training with rigorous academic pursuit, the program develops students’ artistic skills through a diverse, inclusive range of repertoires and performance opportunities, emphasizing exploration and musical self-actualization. The students’ musical knowledge is enriched and contextualized by complementary coursework across all divisions of the College, understanding that the role of the singing artist is both communicator and innovator.
Vocal performance students will work with faculty in both the Bard College Conservatory of Music and the Bard College Music Program. Opportunities for collaboration include the Chamber Singers, led by Maestro James Bagwell; the annual, fully-staged Opera Workshop at Bard’s Fisher Center; and various performance classes led by Rufus Müller. Performance coursework will be matched with body and breath awareness courses in the Feldenkrais Method and/or Alexander Technique.
Bachelor of Music Degree Requirements
Like all undergraduate instrumentalists and composers, all undergraduate singers are working toward both a bachelor of music in vocal performance and a bachelor of arts in a field other than music. Conservatory students live, eat, and attend most classes with non-Conservatory students, and are fully part of the academic and social life of the College. Each Conservatory student has two academic advisers, one from the Conservatory and one from a field that the student is considering as a major for the BA degree.
Bachelor of Music Degree Requirements
1. A minimum of 160 credits, at least 64 of which must be taken at Bard. 2. A minimum of 40 credits outside the division of BA major. 3. Every student must take two semesters of First-Year Seminar. Transfer students may be exempt. 4. Every student must be promoted to the Upper College by passing moderation. 5. Every student must complete an acceptable BA Senior Project in a field other than music. 6. Distribution requirements: one course from each of the appropriate distribution areas. 7. Studio instruction (CNSV 100) in every semester of enrollment for performance majors. 8. Vocal Coaching beginning in the fall semester of the third year until graduation. 9. Chamber Singers (MUS 108D): singers participate in the Bard College Chamber Singers for the first four semesters of study. 10. Diction: four semesters of diction training in Italian, French, German, and English. 11. Vocal Pedagogy: one semester is required. 12. Vocal Electives: four semesters of these courses are required throughout the course of study. Participation in more than four semesters is highly encouraged.
Feldenkrais & the Voice
MUS WKSHB RM: Song Courses with Rufus Müller CVSV 211: Alexander Technique
MUS WKSHL BLM: Opera Workshop MUS 108P: Bard Baroque Ensemble
13. Core Sequence in Theory, Analysis, and Composition (CNSV 140, 240, 330, 332) four semesters (4 credits each):
CNSV 140: Diatonic Harmony and Single Species Counterpoint CNSV 240: Chromatic Harmony and Combined Species Counterpoint CNSV 330: Contemporary Composition CNSV 332: Conservatory Seminar
The order indicated by the numbering is strongly recommended, except that CNSV 330 and CNSV 332 may be taken in either order.
14. Vocal Seminars: two semesters in the third year of study.
The Self and the Song From Cabaret to Broadway
15. Aural Skills (CNSV 308, 309) two semesters, 2 credits per course. Some students may require supplementary studies to bring them up to the level of CNSV Aural Skills. They may take a Music Program Theory class. Some students may test out of the classes. 16. Music History: two semesters/courses of 4 credits per course. (MUS 264-265 in Language and Literature of Music are recommended, as preparation for graduate school entrance exams). With prior approval, students may choose courses from the Music Program’s history offerings. 17. Senior Recital Seminar (CNSV 403): a four credit course which includes recital preparation and program note writing, concert production, with a performance forum.
Performance Requirements and Assessments: (for students entering fall 2019, and after.) 1. First Year Jury 2. Second Year Jury 3. Third Year Midpoint Recital 4. Fourth Year Off-Campus Recital 5. Fifth Year Degree Recital and Promotional
Withdrawals A Conservatory student may withdraw from the Conservatory and continue as a BA candidate at Bard College. (Such a decision may have an impact on the student’s financial aid.) However, a student may not withdraw from Bard’s BA program and continue in the Conservatory.
General Conservatory Course Requirements
All conservatory students take a full range of music classes including:
Conservatory Core Sequence in Theory, Analysis, and Composition
Senior Recital Seminar
Information about the Bard College bachelor of arts curriculum may be found here.
General Conservatory Course Requirements
Studio Instruction Weekly private lessons with artist teachers are at the center of the educational experience of every student at the Bard Conservatory. The world-class faculty believe strongly in the special mission of the Conservatory double degree program. Private studio lessons are supplemented with frequent masterclasses with visiting guest artists.
Chamber Music Chamber music plays a particularly important role at the Conservatory. In addition to performing the standard masterworks of the chamber music repertoire, students work closely with the composition program of the Conservatory to perform works of the late 20th and the 21st centuries. The chamber music program is further enriched by master classes and concerts by guest artists groups.
Conservatory Core Sequence in Theory, Analysis and Composition The Conservatory Core Sequence is unique four-semester sequence of classes that integrate the study of music theory, music history, and composition in order to give students a richer understanding of these topics as vital and relevant to their work as interpreters:
Core Sequence Class I - Diatonic Harmony and Single Species Counterpoint: This course is the first of a two-semester sequence on harmony and counterpoint, the two dimensions of tonal music. Beginning with single species counterpoint in 2, 3 and 4 parts, using alto and tenor clefs, students will initially develop fluency in part writing. The study of diatonic harmony begins with the many possibilities of expanding the tonic key by the dominant. After surveying all the functions of diatonic chords in major and minor keys, the course ends with simple modulations from I to V in major and I to III in minor. There will be weekly writing assignments in harmony and counterpoint, and all musical examples will be drawn from the classical repertoire.
Core Sequence Class II - Chromatic Harmony and Combined Species Counterpoint: This course is a continuation of the material studied in CNSV 140. It covers the many possibilities of using non-diatonic tones in a key (i.e., chromaticism), spanning a variety of topics such as modal mixture, applied (i.e., secondary) dominants, the Phrygian 2 and the different forms of the augmented-sixth chords. This course also focuses upon the study of combined species counterpoint. In addition to understanding how combined-species patterns form the basis of diatonic sequences, the interaction between contrapuntal voice-leading techniques and genuine harmonic progressions will be clarified.
Contemporary Composition - By learning to compose, students develop a deep understanding of the compositional process, which is an integral skill for all performing musicians. Students produce several original compositions to be performed by themselves and others at a final concert. The class is taught by the conservatory composition faculty Joan Tower and George Tsontakis, two of our most celebrated composers and teachers of composition.
Conservatory Seminar - This is the capstone class for the Conservatory Core Sequence and is designed to give students the ability to place their music making in a larger historical, musical, sociological, and expressive context. Conservatory Seminar examines pieces from the conservatory orchestra repertoire and addresses broad questions such as the political and social context in which they were composed and understood, the relationship between the formal structure of the work and others of a similar general type, how the form of the work conveys meaning for particular sets of listeners and how these meaning have evolved through time.
Senior Recital Seminar Students who are preparing for their degree recitals meet weekly to perform their recital repertoire for each other, and for members of the Conservatory faculty. In addition, the students conduct historical and analytical research into their repertoire, and write program notes that are printed and distributed to the audience the day of the recital, timetable permitting. Besides the weekly performance class, the seminar normally entails four or five individual meetings with the faculty member who assigns reading materials and supervises the writing of the program notes. The objective of the seminar is to give students an opportunity to become comfortable performing their recital repertoire, and to learn how to give each other constructive comments; they will also discuss and reflect on the music, and hone their writing styles.
Aural Skills This sequence of courses provides Conservatory students with skills in sight-singing, harmonic, melodic and rhythmic dictation, clef reading, keyboard harmony, harmonic analysis and other requirements of functional musical literacy.
Music History In addition to the four-semester Conservatory Core Sequence in Theory, Analysis and Composition, students are required to take two upper level music history classes. These classes can be general survey classes or classes devoted to more specific topics in music history.
Vocal Performance Course Requirements
The requirements of the bachelor of music degree in the Conservatory are:
Diction for Singers
Bard Baroque Ensemble
Vocal Performance Course Requirements
Vocal Coaching Beginning in the third year of study, students receive weekly individual sessions with a member of the voice faculty. These sessions supplement the work done in the private studio, with a special emphasis on connection to text.
Diction for Singers Taught by Dr. Erika Switzer, this two semester sequence examines the basics of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) as applied to the singing pronunciation of Italian and French in the first semester and English and German in the second. Through written exercises, coaching, performance, and listening assignments, students will develop their ability to identify the component sounds of each sung language and to enunciate them with clarity and physical ease.
Chamber Singers Led by maestro James Bagwell, the Chamber Singers is a select choir made up of undergraduate singers in both the Conservatory and B.A. Music Program. The Chamber Singers perform throughout the year at Bard's Fisher Center with the Bard Conservatory Orchestra and The Orchestra Now.
Vocal Pedagogy This course, led by Ilka LoMonaco,is designed for students with teaching ambitions as well as for serious singers who would like to deepen their exploration of their own instrument. The class will cover basic anatomy and physiology, but the emphasis is always on practical vocal application. Students will be like voice-detectives, learning new ways of how to listen to voices, to identify physiological influences in a sound, and to remedy imbalances in vocal production through specific changes in posture, head or tongue positions. The course will also explore questions such as: What are vocal registers and how do they work? What are good vowels, and how can they help us solve vocal problems? What is a good vibrato and what information can we gain from it.
The Self and the Song In your first two years at Bard, you will have the opportunity to study major literary and musical works in seminars, exploring these touchstone artistic creations as a way to better understand not just the long cultural history of our deeply interconnected globe, but also yourself. In this third year seminar, we will embark on similar explorations, this time centered around art song repertoire’s intersection with identity, as you prepare for your mid-point recital. Throughout the seminar, we will explore the ways in which artistic circles were able to realize--and literally give voice to--the philosophies and ideologies of their day. The semester will be divided into three units, each focusing on a different literary movement and corpus of art song. We will pair close reading with close singing, finding new ways to interface with and delve into the enormous body of art song literature as a way of encouraging thoughtful and invested programming for each student’s mid-point recital. Musical repertoire will be studied and performed in class throughout the semester, culminating in a final oral presentation and performance that knits together both the literary and musical strands of this course.
From Cabaret to Broadway
In this course, we explore more popular iterations and transformations of song and staged musical dramas throughout the late 19th, 20th, and now 21st centuries, and the ways in which these traditions--and the intersection of words and music--inform contemporary song literature and performance practices. We begin this seminar with the discussion and study of 19th century operetta's roots, including Offenbach, W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, and the Zarzuela renaissance headed by Francisco Barbieri and Joaquín Gaztambide. From here, we explore the emergence of operetta and musical theater in the United States, including the rich history of Yiddish and Hebrew musical dramas in New York City and the explosion of musical theater on Broadway and beyond, with a special emphasis on the work of African-American composers and performers including Noble Lee Sissle, Eubie Blake, Emmelyne Kemp, and Josephine Baker. Additional composers studied include Avrom Goldfadn, Kurt Weill, Benjamin Britten, William Walton, Eric Satie, William Bolcom, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, and Oscar Hammerstein.
Vocal Electives All vocal electives are offered yearly. Participation for credit is required by all vocal performance students for at least four semesters. More than four semesters of participation is strongly encouraged and can be coordinated with the student's academic advisors.
Song Class Song recitals can often be boring, or even alienating. In this class we explore ways to make the performance of art song moving and satisfying for performers and public alike. Led by Rufus Müller, these song courses explore meaningful ways to make the performance of art song moving and satisfying for performers and public alike. The course culminates in a public recital.
Opera Workshop The Undergraduate Opera Workshop is a yearly collaboration between the Bard Conservatory and Music Program. Throughout the fall semester, students prepare a themed program of operatic excerpts (choruses, ensembles, solos), culminating in a fully-staged performance with orchestra at Bard's Fisher Center in the early spring semester.
Bard Baroque Ensemble For both singers and instrumentalists, this performance ensemble focuses on music from 1550-1750. The course culminates in a final public performance.
Alexander Technique The Alexander Technique provides a way of teaching us how to re-connect with our own innate energies. For musicians this means discovering a way of performing with greater muscular ease, less accumulated fatigue and a less restrictive approach to technique. This course introduces both F. M. Alexander's principles and a new set of physical experiences suited to the musician's specific needs. The aim of the class will be learning how to apply the Technique to practice and performance situations. Students will have the opportunity to work with their instruments in class.
Sample Course of Study
Double degree students determine their course of study in tandem with their Conservatory and College advisors. Outlined here is an example of how a student may choose to organize the completion of their Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Arts degrees. In this example, the student is working toward degrees in Vocal Performance and History.
Sample Course of Study
1st year FALL
CNSV 100 Studio Instruction - 2.0 credits CNSV 108 Wellness, Life Skills, Chamber Music - 2.0 credits CNSV 140 Conservatory Seminar I (Harmony/counterpoint) - 4.0 credits FSE I First-Year Seminar - 4.0 credits MUS 254A Diction 1 - 4.0 credits ENSEMBLE (1-ensemble recommendation) - 2.0 credits
1st year SPRING (1st year jury)
HIST 130 Origins of American Citizen - 4.0 credits CNSV 101 Studio Instruction - 2.0 credits CNSV 240 Conservatory Seminar II (Harmony/Counterpoint) - 4.0 credits FSE II First-Year Seminar - 4.0 credits MUS WKSH Diction Workshop A - 2.0 credits ENSEMBLE (2-ensemble recommendation) - 2.0/4.0 credits
2nd year FALL
HIST 124 France and Empire in the Early Modern - 4.0 credits CNSV 100 Studio Instruction - 2.0 credits CNSV 308 Aural Skills - 2.0 credits CNSV 330 Conservatory Seminar III (Composition) - 4.0 credits MUS 254B Diction 2 - 4.0 credits ENSEMBLE (2-ensemble recommendation) - 2.0/4.0 credits