Music – Sacred Music Major Guide for 2011-2012

What is Music – Sacred Music

Sacred Music is performed in church for liturgies, rites, prayers, devotions, or ceremonies. Students that major in sacred music are usually interested not only in music itself, but also in religion. The degree in Sacred Music will emphasize music skills as well as the skills, concepts and knowledge you will need as a church musician and includes courses in music performance, conducting and religious studies. You will also be required to intern in a church situation, learning from experienced church musicians.

Career Opportunities in Music – Sacred Music

Graduates with a degree in Sacred Music pursue careers as:

  • Church organists, pianists or vocalists (including cantors and song leaders)
  • Conductors of church choirs,
  • Directors of Music Ministry
  • Other administrative positions in churches (e.g. Youth Directors)
  • Some Sacred Music graduates will also pursue further studies in the seminary.

Salary Trends in Music – Sacred Music

Positions in the field of Sacred Music will vary greatly in responsibility and salary.  Positions may be either part-time or full-time and in large or very small churches. Duties may range from one of coordinator of all music and even liturgy, to accompanist. Due to the large range of activities and the budgets of the various churches, salaries are very hard to predict. Church musicians may receive from $25-100 per service and from $5000-50,000 per year.

Many churches will follow the guidelines associated with the American Guild of Organists. (See for salary guide­lines.)

High School Preparation

To prepare for a sacred music degree:

  • Get involved in your church music program.
  • Play organ or piano for the choir.
  • Take part in all kinds of liturgy.
  • Learn about many different faiths – what they believe and what their liturgies consist of.

To prepare for a degree in music:

  • Perform as much as possible.
  • Take part in the chorus, the bands, and the orchestra in high school.
  • Take private music lessons to help prepare for the audition.
  • Take any music theory, ear training, music history, or appreciation courses offered by your school.
  • Listen to as much music and as many varied types of music as you can.
  • Attend concerts.

How to Major in Music – Sacred Music

All new music students in sacred music (freshmen and transfer) must:

  • perform an audition on their major instrument
  • take a music theory examination

The audition and theory exam should be completed on the day of your audition.  No student progresses to a major in Sacred Music until the audition and entrance examination have been successfully completed.

Information on the audition process can be found on the School of Music web site (  Applicants are urged to register for an audition as early as possible.

Requirements for Music – Sacred Music

You will take the

music core curriculum, including

  • music theory and ear training,
  • form and analysis, music history and world music,
  • piano,
  • applied music (lessons),
  • and ensembles.

courses specific to your major, including


  • religious studies,
  • Music in Christian Worship,
  • Church Service Playing,
  • and piano/organ/vocal literature.

Finally, you are required to present two recitals, a 30-minute in your junior year and a 60-minute in your senior year.You will also serve an internship in a church in your senior year.


Highlights of Music – Sacred Music

Students in the School of Music degree program say the highlight of this program is the internship in the senior year.  During this internship, the student works with experienced church musicians at an area church. Students gain practical experience in directing the adult, teen or children’s choirs; playing the organ and piano; and directing various instrumental groups.

Ready for the World logoReady for the World

The Sacred Music faculty members encourage their majors to acquire a wide range of experiences.  If students can afford and have an interest in studying abroad, the faculty will work with them to make this opportunity as easy as possible.  Visit the Programs Abroad Office web site ( for information on study abroad opportunities.

Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.

Sample Curriculum

Following this four-year plan will help you stay on track to graduate in four years.  Milestone courses have been identified as the minimum courses that must be completed.

Sample Curriculum Bachelor of Music Degree, concentration in Sacred Music (Organ-Track)
Freshman Year Credit Hours
English 101, 102 3,3
Music Theory 110, 120 3,3
Music Theory 130, 140 1,1
Musicology 110 3
Music Ensemble 1,1
Music Performance 189, 190 (Organ) 2,2
Foreign Language (200-level sequence) 6
Music General 200 0, 0
Music Voice 110 or Music Performance 155 1,1
Milestone Courses: English 101, two courses in Music 200, Music Theory 110 and 130, Musicology 110, two Music performance courses and two music ensemble courses
Sophomore Year Credit Hours
Music Theory 210, 220 3,3
Music Theory 230, 240 1,1
Musicology 210, 220 3,3
Music Performance 289, 290 (Organ) 2,2
Music Ensemble 1,1
Music Performance 155, 156, 225 or 256 (Voice) 1,1
Music General 200 0, 0
Quantitative Reasoning 3,3
Music Education 200 1
Milestone Courses: English 102, two courses in Music 200, two music performance courses, Music Theory 120 and 140, two music ensemble courses and one courses from Musicology 210 or 220
Junior Year Credit Hours
Social Sciences 3
Musicology 380 3
Music Theory 310 3
Musicology 480 3
Music Performance 389, 390 (Organ) 2,2
Music Ensemble 1,1
Music General 200 0, 0
Music General 301 0
Music Education 310, 320 3,2
Religious Studies 3
Music Keyboard 230 1
Music Keyboard 410 1
Communicating Orally 3
Senior Year Credit Hours
Music Performance 489, 490 2,2
Music General 495 3
Music Keyboard 410 1,1
Music Keyboard 460, 470 3,3
Music Ensemble 1,1
Music General 200 0, 0
Music General 401 0
Natural Sciences 4,3
Social Sciences 3
Electives 2
GRAND TOTAL (minimum) 120

For More Information

See the Sacred Music area web site:

Or contact the School of Music area:

Undergraduate Admissions
School of Music
1741 Volunteer Blvd.
211 Music Bldg
Knoxville, TN 37996-2600



The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.