Final Comprehensive Exam Guidelines - MM in Vocal Performance

All MM students are advised to read and consult the College of Music Handbook throughout the course of their program. The student has sole responsibility for understanding and abiding by policy and procedures contained therein:

I.    Purpose
Students completing the Master of Music in Voice Performance must pass a final comprehensive oral examination administered by their designated Advisory Committee:

It is the goal of the DVS faculty that students completing their MM in Vocal Performance be well-prepared for their professional life in all relevant areas. With this in mind, at the culmination of the MM degree, in addition to presenting a solo degree recital, students will pass a robust oral examination.

Rather than viewing the exam as an academic hurdle, students are strongly encouraged to use it as an opportunity to actively and consistently cultivate their own artistic and professional development to the greatest extent possible. To this end, students are advised, from the first semester of study, to establish, expand and collect a database of knowledge both through gathering information from lessons and coursework, as well as from in individual preparation and self-initiated small group study.

The faculty as a whole is available and enthusiastic in supporting each student towards their goals of technical, artistic and professional development, and ultimate success. Students are encouraged to initiate a discussion about strategies to prepare for this comprehensive examination with the major professor and related field professor at the outset of their degree program.

II.    Scheduling
It is the student’s responsibility to note the deadlines by which all requirements
must be completed for the semester in which they plan to graduate:

The final comprehensive oral examination may be taken before or after the completion of the MM Recital. Students are responsible for scheduling the time and location for this exam, and should schedule a 60-minute window of time for the entire exam.

III.    Guidelines
The oral examination committee will be chaired by the student’s major professor and will include the related field professor and the third Advisory Committee member from the Division of Vocal Studies. (Students choosing a broader pool of courses to fulfill their related field requirement have a second committee member typically drawn from the student’s area of study.)
No less than a week before the exam the student must provide to the examination committee a copy, in written form, of

  • their degree recital program
  • program notes
  • an accurate MM degree plan
  • the Sample Recital Portfolio (see IV below) 
  • the audition package 

The examination may be taken no more than three times. In the event an exam is not passed, the examination committee has the discretion to determine next steps, and will advise/inform the student in writing.

The student will be expected to be able to communicate in English well enough to pass the oral exam.

IV.    Exam Content
The examination committee will ask questions pertaining to the following areas. (Students are allowed to have printed copies of the material below in the exam.)

•    Degree Recital and Program Notes
•    Degree Coursework. Students with a designated related field should consult their related field professors for specific guidelines for preparation
•    Sample Recital Portfolio. Students will construct four 50-minute recitals tailored to their voice. They must include ways to produce, market and present the programs. Students may not use repertoire performed on their MM degree recital.  Program notes are not required for the sample recitals. 
          1.    A recital of all English songs (American or British Isles) including contemporary songs
          2.    A recital in French
          3.    A recital in German
          4.    One or more recitals according to the student’s own imagination: Literature in other languages, female composers, a specific nationality, theme, or follow the NATSAA model; it could include opera scenes, vocal chamber music, music theater, or other.

Students will construct an audition package of 5-8 selections tailored for their unique intended career steps. They may create an opera aria package of 5-8 selections that can include music theater/crossover selections, or create an oratorio/concert package of 5-8 arias suitable for their voice. 

V.    Exam Protocols
During the oral exam, a student may ask the committee members for clarification of questions posed; one clarification request per question is allowed, after which the student will either attempt an answer or ask for a new question. 

The examination portion will typically last 50 minutes. At the conclusion of the exam, the committee will deliberate and render their decision which will be considered final.