Spring Arbor University

students sing at Hanging of the Greens

Department of Music

Music is a vital part of life and worship at Spring Arbor, and the Music Department offers a wide range of dynamic experiences in music learning and involvement. Our department strives for the highest standards and is an accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM).

What we offer

The Music Department offers professional training in vocal or instrumental music education or the rapidly growing field of worship arts, a liberal-arts music major, a music minor and an associate’s degree in piano pedagogy. Music scholarships are available for talented students who are actively involved in the music program, even those who are not music majors or minors.

Majors and programs

Katelyn Ford

The most impressive aspect of the SAU music program is the faculty. There is a fine balance between challenging students and pushing them too far, and the professors provide the right amount of push to help students become the most successful student/musician they can be. I feel prepared and motivated to meet my future goals as a musician and as a teacher.

Katelyn Ford
Music education major
Class of 2014

What we do

The department provides many kinds of playing and singing opportunities and presents more than three dozen concerts and recitals each year. Our University Singers, Chamber Choir, Concert Band, Jazz Ensemble and our traveling music-ministry team known as WellSpring, are all very active, and smaller ensembles are offered frequently. Any SAU student is welcome to take vocal or instrumental private lessons.

Who we are

Music students direct personal attention from our six full-time faculty and approximately fifteen adjunct instructors. Our teachers are all active professionals and are well known for their performances, publications and compositions. SAU graduates are ministering in vibrant churches, pursuing graduate degrees, teaching in colleges, both public and private schools, and working in many other fields of activity.

The mission of the Music Department at Spring Arbor University is to develop the ability of each student to perform music with expertise and insight and to understand music within a context of serious study of the liberal arts, Jesus Christ as the perspective for learning and critical participation in the contemporary world.

Message from the Chair

Message from the Department Chair

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about music at Spring Arbor University. Our music program is dynamic, personal, diverse and purposeful, and I would like to tell you some of the reasons we are proud of our commitment to quality music education at Spring Arbor.

           Integrating faith and learning. The unique Spring Arbor Concept is often cited as one of the finest statements of faith and purpose in higher education. It states: Spring Arbor University is a community of learners distinguished by our lifelong involvement in the study and application of the liberal arts, total commitment to Jesus Christ as the perspective for learning, and critical participation in the contemporary world. In the Music Department, this means you will have instructors who help you express eternal meaning with your music as you develop your musical skills. Our students are not just our pupils; they are also our friends and colleagues as we seek to “make a joyful nose to the Lord.”

           Personal attention and quality instruction. Small class sizes and personal attention are the norm rather than the exception in our music program. Private lessons are available for all musical instruments and voice types, and we take pride in our efforts to provide excellent private instruction appropriate to any student’s interests, needs and prior skill development. You can also take lessons if you are a beginner and always wanted to try singing or an instrument. Scholarships are available, regardless of major, to active and talented music students.

           Innovative Programs. Spring Arbor is one of the first universities to offer a degree program in the rapidly expanding field of worship arts. If you have a desire to apply your gifts as a worship arts pastor, we have a unique program combining music, drama, visual media and ministry that may be just what you’re looking for!

           Basis in solid traditions of music. Experience proves again and again that the one thing that is constant in modern life is change. Musicians need to have a broad, solid background in order to adapt to the changes that are sure to come in our profession. We believe it is vital to provide an education in which music theory skills, excellence in performance and thorough understanding of our musical heritage are emphasized.

We would appreciate an opportunity to tell you more about musical life at Spring Arbor University and sincerely hope you will contact us for more information.


Music professor Bruce Brown speakingDr. Bruce Brown
Professor of Music, Music Department Chair

For more information about the music department, please contact Dr. Brown:

Faculty accomplishments

Admission requirements

Students must perform an entrance audition to be formally admitted as a music major. At the end of the sophomore year, music majors must perform a “sophomore check,” a more elaborate jury including sight reading and technical skills, to be admitted to upper division standing. Details about requirements for the sophomore check are available in the music department handbook. Students transferring to Spring Arbor University as juniors or seniors must audition for admission to the program and perform a jury during their first semester on campus.

Career Opportunities

Career Opportunities

Students interested in teacher certification should opt for the major in instrumental music education or vocal music education. Other career opportunities include ministry in performing groups and/or churches, careers in music business and private studio teaching. A bachelor’s degree in music provides the foundation for graduate studies leading to careers in fields such as ministry, college teaching, arts management and music therapy. For more information, visit our career development page.

On-Campus Opportunities

On-Campus Opportunities

There are a wide range of opportunities for music students to get involved, apply what they’re learning in the classroom in a practical way, and meet students who have similar passions. See the list of music ensembles and programs here.

  • Jazz Band – All of Spring Arbor’s instrumental musicians are encouraged to try out for the Jazz Band, which performs concerts throughout the year, and organizes the annual Jazz Bash. For more information, please contact the music department.
  • Music ensembles – Anyone gifted with musical ability is welcome to try out for a variety of musical ensembles including: University Singers, Concert Band, Chamber Choir, individual instrumental ensembles and Wellspring. These groups perform throughout the year and also tour around the country. For more information, please contact the music department.
  • Musicals and plays – From dazzling musicals, to cutting-edge black-box theater performances, to award-winning plays, the Spring Arbor theater program offers a wide range of theatrical outlets enough to sate the appetite of the most enthusiastic theater guru.

 Wellspring – Wellspring consists of two groups: Wellspring Gold and Wellspring Blue. These groups consist of singers and instrumental musicians that travel to camps throughout the summer, performing for the campers, helping with the camp and serving as the worship leaders. The group is highly selective and auditions are required to be a part of Wellspring. For information on auditioning, see the auditions and scholarships page.

See a full list of the various activities and organizations available to students at Spring Arbor University.

Faculty Accomplishments

Faculty Accomplishments

  • Chuck Livesay, professor of music, established a voice lab at SAU after spending his sabbatical visiting other voice labs and researching hardware and software. The software gives a spectrographic read-out of a singer’s voice and displays the sound frequencies.
  • Bruce Brown, professor of music, serves as the composer in residence with the Jackson Symphony Orchestra and hosts the JSO’s popular “Backstage Glimpses” preconcert lecture series. Brown’s recent composition “Love, Death and War in the White House” will be performed by the JSO on May 2, 2015 and will feature a dramatic portrayal of Woodrow Wilson by SAU professor of communication Paul Patton.
  • A number of Christian colleges are using “The Message in the Music: Studying Contemporary Praise and Worship” book, which was edited by Brian Walrath, associate professor of music, and Robert Woods, associate professor of communication, in their church music classes. Walrath provides additional resources to these instructors through a newly launched Web site which contains discussion questions, sample test questions and other information provided by the chapter authors.


Meet the Faculty