Jul 18, 2024  
USC Catalogue 2023-2024 
USC Catalogue 2023-2024 [ARCHIVED CATALOGUE]

USC Thornton School of Music

USC Thornton popular music students hone their songwriting craft and performance at a showcase concert held at the historic El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles.


Undergraduate Degrees

Graduate Degrees


Courses of Instruction  



USC Thornton popular music students hone their songwriting craft and performance at a showcase concert held at the historic El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles. Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging, Inc.




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 is 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, popular music performance, music production, early music, composition, screen scoring, music industry, musicology, music teaching and learning, arts leadership, pedagogy, 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, Popular Music Ensembles, Songwriter Showcases, Jazz Orchestra, Contemporary Music Ensemble, Early Music Ensemble and a wide variety of large and small choral and instrumental ensembles offer students a broad 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 is also the home of the nation’s major recording, radio, film and television industries. All offer abundant opportunities to the serious young music professional.

Music Student Affairs

The Music Complex 200
(213) 740-4721

Email: thornton.studentaffairs@usc.edu
Associate Dean: Phillip Placenti

Music Admission

The Music Complex 200
(213) 740-8986

Email: uscmusic@usc.edu
Associate Dean: Phillip Placenti

Arts Leadership

Music Faculty Building 402
(213) 740-1895

Director: Kenneth Foster

Choral Music

Music Faculty Building 416
(213) 821-5756

Chair: Tram Sparks

Classical Guitar

Ramo Hall of Music 112
(213) 740-7702
 Scott Tennant


Music Faculty Building 308
(213) 740-7416
Donald Crockett


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

Jazz Studies

The Music Complex 118
(213) 740-3119
 Jason Goldman

Keyboard Collaborative Arts

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

Keyboard Studies

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


Music Faculty Building 308
(213) 740-7416
Adam Gilbert

Music Teaching and Learning

Music Faculty Building 402
(213) 740-6935
 Beatriz Ilari

Music Industry

The Music Complex 118
(213) 740-3224

Email: contemporary.music@usc.edu
Chair: Michael Garcia

Music Technology

The Music Complex 118
(213) 740-3224
Richard Schmunk


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

Popular Music Performance

The Music Complex 118
(213) 740-3244
Patrice Rushen

Screen Scoring

The Music Complex 118
(213) 821-4192

Email: contemporary.music@usc.edu
Director: Jeanine Cowen


Ramo Hall of Music 112
(213) 740-7702
Lina Bahn

Studio Guitar

The Music Complex 118
(213) 740-3224
 Nick Stoubis

Vocal Arts

Ramo Hall of Music 112
(213) 740-7704
Lisa Sylvester

Winds and Percussion

Music Faculty Building 308
(213) 740-7416
 Sharon Lavery


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
email: uscmusic@usc.edu



Jason King, PhD, Dean

Rotem Gilbert, DMA, Vice Dean, Division of Scholarly and Professional Studies

Cristian Grases, DMA, Vice Dean, Division of Classical Performance Studies

Sean Holt, MA, Vice Dean, Division of Contemporary Music

Jeffrey de Caen, MBA, Associate Dean for Operations

A. Phoenix Delgado, DMA, Associate Dean for Advancement

Joanna Demers, PhD*, Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs

Brian Head, MM, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

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

Phillip Placenti, EdD, Associate Dean for Admission and Student Affairs


Jascha Heifetz Chair in Music: Glenn Dicterow, BA

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, BA*

Gregor Piatigorsky Chair in Violoncello: Ralph Kirshbaum, BA

Stephen H. Crocker Professorship in Music: Elizabeth Hynes, BM

Alice and Eleonore Schoenfeld Chair in Strings: Yura Lee, Dipl

Judge Widney Professor of Music: Midori Goto, MA*

Judge Widney Professor of Music: Michael Tilson Thomas

Professors: Ken Cazan, BFA*; Terry Cravens, DMA*; Donald Crockett, PhD*; Robert A. Cutietta, DEd; Joanna Demers, PhD*; Glenn Dicterow, BA; Kevin Fitz-Gerald, Art. Dipl; Adam Gilbert, PhD; Stewart Gordon, DMA*; Cristian Grases, DMA; Jeffrey Kahane, MA; Ralph Kirshbaum, BA; Larry Livingston, MM; Ronald McCurdy, PhD; Bob Mintzer, BA*; Daniel Pollack, MS*; Alan Smith, DMA*; Richard Smith, MM; John Thomas, MM

Associate Professors: Yehuda Gilad, Dipl*; Ted Hearne, MM; Elizabeth Hynes, BM; Beatriz Ilari, PhD; David Moore, BM; Nina Young, DMA

Assistant Professors: William Coppola, PhD; Camae Dennis; Leon Garcia Corona, PhD; Jonathan Gomez, PhD; Candice Mattio, PhD; Nate Sloan, PhD; Scott Spencer, PhD; Lisa Vest, PhD*

Professors of Practice: Bernadene Blaha, MM; Lucinda Carver, DMA*; Jeanine Cowen, BM; Peter Erskine; Kenneth Foster, MA; Rotem Gilbert, DMA*; Brian Head, MM*; Lynn Helding, MM; William Kanengiser, MM*; Veronika Krausas, DMA; Antoinette Perry, MM; Richard Schmunk, DMA*; Nick Stoubis, MM; Lisa Sylvester, DMA; Scott Tennant, MM; Joel Timm, DMA

Associate Professors of Practice: Jeffrey Allen, BA; Thomas Michael Allen, MM; Lina Bahn, DM*; Jason Goldman, MM; Susan Helfter, DMA*; Sean Holt, MA*; Lyndia Johnson, MMA; Sharon Lavery, MM; Yura Lee, Art Dipl; Kevin Lyman, BS; Brian Malouf, BA; Brent McMunn, MM; Sean Nye, PhD; Karen Parks, MM; Stephen Pierce, DMA; Patrice Rushen, BA; Christopher Sampson, MM; Tram Sparks, DMA; Jacob Vogel, DMA

Assistant Professors of Practice: Andrae Alexander, MA; Christian Amonson; Michael Garcia, BA; Paul Jackson, Jr., BA; William Kennedy; Timothy Kobza, MM; Derrick Lawrence, BM; Andrew Leff, JD; Clarence Penn, MM; Christopher Rozé, DMA; Michael Smith, BA; Emily Sung, DMA; Mark Weiser, MM; Seth Parker Woods, PhD

Lecturers and Senior Lecturers (Full-time): David Arnay, MM; Charles Gutierrez, AA; Aaron Serfaty, BFA; Stephen Trovato, BS

Adjunct Professors: Margaret Batjer; Jeff Brabec; Todd Brabec; Martin Chalifour; Julie Landsman; Vincent Mendoza; Cherry Rhodes; Pepe Romero; James Self; Andrew Shulman; Carl St Clair; Jo Ann Turovsky; Bing Wang; Richard Wolf

Adjunct Associate Professors: James Babor; Karen Dreyfus; David Howard; Joseph Pereira

Adjunct Assistant Professors: Adriana Balic; Jon Burlingame; Neal Desby; Bruce Forman; Thomas Hooten; Catherine Karoly; Adam Kofler; Jennifer Marotta; Leah Morrison; Darek Oleszkiewicz; Robert Sheppard; Robert Young

Adjunct Instructors: Andy Abad; Tara Aesquivel; Helane Anderson; Pete Anthony; Michael Arrom; Jonathan Azu; Steve Becknell; Bobby Borg; Angelica Cortez; Siobhán Dougall; Maxine Eilander; Sara Gazarek; Peter Golub; Kathleen Grace; Tim Greiving; Jeremy Gruber; Jon Hatamiya; Ben Hong; Michael Kaminsky; Jennifer Kampani; Patrick Kirst; Marion Kuszyk; Edwin Livingston; Ginny Luke; Jessica Maxfield; Roy McCurdy; Loren Medina; Michael Mennell; Shawn Mouser; Alexandra Nickson; Sung-Hwa Park; Douglas Petty; David Poe; Sophie Reeves; Lolita Ritmanis; Garry Schyman; Lawrence Shragge; Michael Stever; Katie Thiroux; Douglas Tornquist; Melissa Treinkman; Lindsay Wolfington

Lecturers (Part-time): Daniel Allas; Sara Balance; Nicolas Benavides; Dan Caputo; Juan Pablo Contreras-Palomar; Jane Davidson; Lot Demeyer; Jeremy Frank; Tom Hall; Ryan McWilliams; Eric Pham; Troy Quinn; Jason Yoshida

Distinguished Professors Emeritus of Composition: Stephen Hartke, PhD*; Morten Lauridsen, DMA*

Emeritus Professors: Arthur C. Bartner, EdD*; Bruce Brown, PhD; William Dehning, DMA*; Gary Glaze, MM*; James Hopkins, PhD*; Frederick Lesemann, DMA*; Thom Mason, DMA*; Donald McInnes, MM; Cynthia Munzer, BM*; Tim Page, BA; John Perry, MM; Jo-Michael Scheibe, DMA; Alice Schoenfeld*; Bryan Simms, PhD*; Ladd Thomas, DMA; William Thomson, PhD; James Walker, BME*; Nancy Woods, MM

Emeritus Associate Professor of Practice: Kenneth Lopez, BA

Emeritus Senior Lecturer: Patrick Kelley, BM

*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: choral music, composition, music industry, instrumental performance, jazz studies, popular music performance, music production 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: These degrees are designed for students with a strong music background 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: Eight 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 Production, 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 a thesis, recital(s) or other capstone project as part of the degree requirements. The degree can be earned in choral music, composition, jazz studies, keyboard collaborative arts, guitar, organ, piano, voice or instrumental performance, teaching and learning, or sacred music. 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.

Master of Science: Two degrees are offered in Arts Leadership and Music Industry.

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, vocal or instrumental performance, sacred music, or teaching and learning.

Doctor of Philosophy: Conferred by 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. Supplementary materials are also required for students seeking admission to the Thornton School of Music, which are described online at music.usc.edu.

Applicants to a program within the school are screened by appropriate faculty selection committees that hold auditions, interviews and examine supporting 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. Detailed information regarding audition requirements for specific Thornton programs is available online at music.usc.edu.

Graduate Academic Admission Examination

All DMA and PhD applicants as well as Master’s applicants in Music Teaching and Learning, Popular Music Teaching and Learning, Community Music, and Early Music must, as part of the admission process, take the Graduate Academic Admission Examination administered by the Thornton School. Detailed information is posted annually at the USC Thornton School of Music website (music.usc.edu).

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

All students entering a graduate-level degree program (MA, MM, DMA, PhD) at USC Thornton, who have not previously completed a degree at USC Thornton, must take a series of entrance exams in core music subjects. These exams are called Music Graduate Entrance Exams (MGEEs). Information regarding which exams are required for specific majors is available at the USC Thornton School of Music website (music.usc.edu).

MGEEs are administered during a prescribed time period prior to the first week of classes each fall and spring semester. Entering students must take all required exams at the scheduled exam time prior to the beginning of their first semester in the program. If any given exam is not passed on the first attempt, that exam can be retaken at the scheduled exam time prior to the beginning of the second semester in the program. If the exam is not passed on the second attempt, the corresponding review course must be successfully completed with a grade of B minus or better before the beginning of the third semester in the program. No MGEE can be attempted after the second semester in the program, regardless of whether the exam has previously been attempted. If students complete any MGEE after their second semester in the program, the score earned on said exam will be invalid. Failure to fulfill all MGEE requirements by the beginning of the third semester – either through exams or review courses – may delay permission to fulfill degree requirements such as recitals, comprehensive or qualifying examinations, thesis projects, and dissertations, and may also have a negative impact on financial aid eligibility.

If a student is not able to take an exam at the scheduled exam time, the exam administrator may choose to administer a similar exam at another scheduled time during the first week of the semester. This alternate exam time will be arranged in rare cases and at the sole discretion of the exam administrator.

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

The Thornton School of Music adheres to the USC Admission policies regarding TOEFL and IELTS scores. With some exceptions, international applicants from non-English-speaking countries are required to submit these scores by the application deadline. Test scores that are more than two years old at the time of application are not accepted. For any applicant whose first language is not English, regardless of educational background or immigration status, the Thornton School may require as a condition of admission that they take the International Student English (ISE) exam, administered by the USC American Language Institute, as well as complete any English language course work that may be prescribed from the results of that exam.

Advanced Standing Credit for Music Courses Taken at Accredited Institutions

Music courses completed with satisfactory grades at a regionally accredited institution of higher education may be acceptable for transfer. A review of transcripts and course syllabi will be required in order to determine transferability of course work. The Thornton School may also require a student to take a placement test (at no cost) to determine the extent of their knowledge in a given area of musical study before a final determination is made regarding transferability of course work.

Advanced Standing Credit for Music Courses Not Taken at Accredited Institutions

Music courses completed at an institution that is not regionally accredited will generally not be transferable. In exceptional cases, the Thornton School may consider petitions for transfer credit for these courses. The petition review process will include evaluation of transcripts with letter grades, course syllabi for each course for which transfer credit is being requested, and examples of work completed for a grade in those courses. Additional information may also be required in order for the Thornton School to complete a full transfer credit evaluation.

Curriculum Requirements

The curriculum requirements for each major are listed under each degree. The USC course classification and numbering system is explained in the Registration  section of this catalogue. 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 apply and be approved for the new curriculum by the appropriate department chair and declare the intent to change curriculum through his or her academic adviser in the Thornton School.

Non-Degree Programs

Students who have highly specialized interests that 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 in Arts Leadership

The Graduate Certificate program in arts leadership is a two-semester program for artists, arts administrators and cultural workers of all types to develop the skills necessary to become successful leaders in the arts and arts organizations in a rapidly changing and radically altered contemporary world.

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.

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 Thornton School of Music are eligible for election to Eta chapter at the University of Southern California, established in 1923, according to guidelines established by the board of the Eta chapter.

Undergraduate Degrees

Minors in Music

Minor in Performing Arts Studies

The minor in performing arts provides an interdisciplinary inquiry into the nature and aesthetics of the performing arts. It combines the disciplines of cinematic arts, dance, music and theatre. The minor is a unique course of study that looks at how the performing arts contribute to a culturally literate society. See the USC School of Dramatic Arts  section of this catalogue.

Graduate Degrees

Admission-Audition Requirements

Applicants to graduate programs in the Thornton School of Music must fulfill all music admission requirements described at usc.edu/music, in addition to fulfilling all USC graduate admission requirements. See Thornton School of Music Degree Programs and Entrance to the Degree Programs sections of this catalogue for further information. 


    Bachelor’s DegreeMinorDiplomaMaster’s DegreeGraduate CertificateDoctoral Degree


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