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Music faculty say ‘yes’ to new concentration

Posted on August 24th, 2009

Professors are happy about the music major with interdisciplinary studies concentration that starts this fall.

Lynne Mackey and James Richardson agree the concentration takes advantage of the EMU music department’s strengths like the close one-on-one relationships between students and faculty, the Mennonite music heritage, and the creativity and collegiality of the professors.


James Richardson

Lynne Mackey

Mackey, a pianist, and Richardson, a baritone, said the new interdisciplinary concentration grew out of brainstorming by the faculty. Both give much of the credit to department chair Joan Griffing.

"The new concentration is for students who are talented in music but interested in other academic areas as well," said Richardson. Added Mackey: "Incoming students sometimes don’t want to have to fit into one of our music major categories – performance, education and church music."

How does it work?

An example of a student who is switching to a music major with interdisciplinary studies concentration is Charise Garber, a biology major who is a gifted pianist. Now she gets to work with a music faculty advisor to create a major that combines her interests.

In addition to a core set of music classes, each student in the interdisciplinary concentration will take courses in a discipline outside of music. Faculty from both the music department and this other discipline will advise the student. The student will present a senior project that combines music with the other area of interest. Examples of possible collaborative pairs are music and missions, music and psychology, music and business. The possibilities are many, and provide the student with diverse options.

These additional options provide expanded opportunities for study and work in music and related fields. Each is intended as entrance level work for graduate study, and for entering a music-related career.

Learn more about the new concentration…

More about our faculty

Mackey, an associate professor of music, teaches courses in applied piano, pedagogy and music theory. She is also involved in EMU’s annual Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival as the primary pianist for the noon concerts and as director of master-class offerings in baroque performance.

A resident of Staunton, she taught previously at Mary Baldwin College and the University of Mary Washington. She has performed in the U.S. and overseas in solo and chamber music settings. She is on the "touring roster" for the Virginia Commission for the Arts and was awarded a one-year residency in contemporary music at the University of Virginia. Her performances of new works for the piano include three New York premiers.

She and her husband Bill Wellington have one daughter, Sophie, who sings in EMU’s Shenandoah Valley Children’s Choir. Mackey, a graduate of the University of Michigan, earned a master’s degree from The Juilliard School and a doctorate from the Eastman School of Music.

Richardson, an assistant professor of music, teaches voice, vocal pedagogy, music appreciation and film music. He directs ChoirWithoutBorders and teaches a course for the Adult Degree Completion Program in connection with the Bach Festival. A native of Harrisonburg, he graduated from Eastern Mennonite High School and Covenant College. He earned a master’s degree from the Peabody Conservatory of Music and plans to start a doctoral program soon.

Before coming to EMU, Richardson was a high school music teacher. He also performed as a soloist, most recently at Westminster Choir College and on a tour of Ukraine with Philadelphia’s Tenth Presbyterian Church and Westminster Brass. Richardson and his wife Dana, whom he married on the day of his college graduation, have three young children.

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