Skip to main content

Composition & Theory


About the Composition & Theory Department

Department chair: Michael Slayton    

The Composition/Theory program seeks to equip students with the creative, technical and critical mechanisms central to developing their artistic and intellectual lives as scholars.

Working closely with faculty, composition students at Blair enjoy a freedom of exploration in a variety of styles, working to create a diverse portfolio of compositions. Student composers have numerous opportunities to hear their music performed each year, culminating with a full-length portrait recital during the senior year.

Capitalizing on Blair's integral role in the cultural and intellectual life of one of America's premier universities, The Composition & Theory program also develops opportunities afforded by access to Vanderbilt's excellent musical and non-musical course offerings, encouraging students to understand how their own music relates to a host of other disciplines, such as art, history, literature, philosophy, and the sciences.

A guiding principle of Blair's program in Composition & Theory is that both the art and craft of composing are strengthened in developing a relationship between personal growth and the vast network of ideas and experiences available to students in the 21st century.

Aural Skills

Coordinator: Joshua McGuire

Increasingly, musicians are called upon to perform in diverse styles and genres, including music of the classic western tradition, jazz, popular and world music. To satisfy these demands, we at the Blair School are committed to providing students with the practical skills they will need to effectively perform in this eclectic environment.

Our musicianship program is designed to ensure that students systematically develop technical aural skills including pitch, interval and rhythm recognition, scale and mode identification, chord identification, et cetera. Additionally, students gain insight into how to augment musical communication and expression through the implementation of these skills.

Based upon teaching methods developed by Marianne Ploger since 1976, Blair musicianship courses focus on developing fluency in all of these areas.

Learn more about the Musicianship Program and register for 2019 Musicianship Intensives


Michael Slayton
Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, Associate Professor of Composition and Theory; Chair of Composition & Theory Department
(615) 322-7673
2107 Blair
Collegiate primary majors, collegiate non-primary majors, and collegiate minors
Emelyne M. Bingham
Principal Senior Lecturer of Music Theory and Cognition
1189 Blair
Molly Herron
Assistant Professor of Music Theory and Composition

 Stanley B. Link
Associate Professor of the Composition, Philosophy and Analysis of Music
2106 Blair
Collegiate primary majors, collegiate non-primary majors, and collegiate minors
Joshua McGuire
Senior Lecturer in Musicianship
(615) 322-6891
2121 Blair
Michael Alec Rose
Professor of Composition
2102 Blair
Collegiate primary majors, collegiate non-primary majors, and collegiate minors
Frederick Sienkiewicz
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Musicianship
Blair 1193
Deanna Walker
Adjunct Instructor of Songwriting
3110 Blair
Collegiate non-primary majors, collegiate minors, and Blair Academy students
David Binns Williams
Senior Lecturer in Musicianship and Choral Studies
Director of the Vanderbilt Concert Choir; Director of the Vanderbilt Community Chorus
(615) 322-7164
3157 Blair
Samuel Zyman
Professor of Music Theory and Analysis
Blair 2120