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Which Piano Pedagogy DMA programs might allow theory/history seminar transfer credits from a PhD?

GradMusicianGradMusician Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
(TLDR: If I transfer from a musicology PhD to a music performance/pedagogy DMA program, would any schools give me substantial transfer credit for the elective seminars and foundation courses I took during my PhD coursework? If so, which schools might allow this?)

In short, I've achieved candidacy for the PhD in musicology at a well-regarded university (I have not really started writing). I also have a BM and MM in musicology. However, my reasons for pursuing musicology for all these years were not the right ones--I settled for it because at the time I felt that I would not be a competitive candidate for a performance or pedagogy degree program on my primary instrument (piano). That was probably accurate given the school I intended to (and did) attend. Then I started to think that musicology and academia might be what I actually wanted--but all the signs were there that the field is just not a good fit for me, nevermind the terrible job market. I just ignored the signs and went all the way to formulating a proposal and passing all my qualifying exams.

In the interval between starting coursework and achieving candidacy, I've developed as a musician and teacher to the point that I think I actually might be competitive as an applicant to some DMA programs in these areas. (I'm not expecting to get into a place like Juilliard, Eastman, Peabody, Michigan, etc.) Thus, I am wondering how feasible it would be to apply to such a program and expect to receive transfer credit or some type of seriously advanced standing for all the language requirements, musicology and theory seminars, etc. that I took for my PhD coursework. Obviously this may vary by school, so if anyone has experience in this area with a particular school, I'd love to have your endorsements.
(To clarify: what I'd be seeking transfer credit for would be the 500 and 600-level history seminars I've taken at my current institution, not the initial Graduate Placement Exams that I'm sure every incoming DMA person has to take. I'm not worried about my ability to pass those.)

Since I have a private studio along with some other independent business pursuits, and I (largely)* intend to freelance rather than pursue academia, I'm not extremely concerned with the program's prestige level. I just spent a lot of time in coursework in the wrong field and I'd like to recycle that course credit into something actually relevant to what I'll be doing after graduate school. I'm also concerned that if I hold a PhD--even in a field I don't intend to pursue afterward--I could be thought of as "overqualified" and shut out of some future job opportunities. (*I say "largely" because I might be interested in something like academic advising at the same school where my spouse will eventually be employed, though I am pretty sure most advising positions don't require a PhD.)

Is a transfer of this type even possible? Or would every single school require me to start over with my coursework--which may include music history seminars with professors I've connected with at conferences (who might be wondering what happened)? I should also note that the transfer will not be possible within my current university's School of Music, since one of my potential degree programs does not exist here and, while the other one would be tempting, I have exhausted all my financial aid eligibility with the musicology TA funding I received. I'm not worried about how this will "look" since the reason for transfer would be hugely obvious, given that I'd be jumping into a different field not offered at my current university.
Another (minor) question is whether or not schools would let me do this without asking me to go back and earn an MM in performance or pedagogy first. My MM is also in musicology and I had no official performance coursework during that degree.

Basically, my ideal situation would be that every course requirement outside of the major field (so, outside of piano, pedagogy, ensembles, thesis/recital credits) would transfer and I could take only the major field courses, which would honestly take less time or only as much time as it would take for me to do this dissertation I won't use.


Thank you for your ideas!

Replies to: Which Piano Pedagogy DMA programs might allow theory/history seminar transfer credits from a PhD?

  • GoForthGoForth Registered User Posts: 716 Member
    @GradMusician - Hi. Welcome. I have no idea about transfer credits. You may find a great solution that maximizes those. I was just reading your story as a problem-solving exercise. One of the solutions in the solution-space would seem to be to [1] treasure what you have learned so far, [2] terminate the PhD and/or DMA pursuit, [3] review your gut reaction to that idea against the sunk-cost fallacy, and [4] see if that might be good for your goals. Best of luck.
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 9,863 Senior Member
    edited October 2017
    What is your goal in doing this? Do you want to further develop as a pianist? Are you thinking this will help you in a teaching career? Do you just love playing and teaching and this would make you happier? Can you achieve any of this with private study and continued teaching and maybe a few courses, while finishing your PhD? You have already progressed while working on musicology, so can you just continue that way?

    Sorry, playing devil's advocate here.

    So you are ABD in your current program?

    As for transferring credits I would contact the individual schools.

    Have you considered a diploma instead? (I don't know much about the latter in this situation.)
  • GradMusicianGradMusician Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    @compmom Yes, I am ABD, but I have not started writing. Realistically I'd be looking at 3 years minimum to finish a dissertation, and if I could import some course credits into a DMA...I might be able to finish a DMA (with a recital and a smaller document) in that time frame. My biggest goal is to convert some of my already-completed coursework into a degree that will actually match what I'm doing with my life. Many parents will look for a piano ped degree as a credential in prospective teachers. Though I know one piano teacher/publisher who has a musicology degree as her highest degree and is very successful, she's quite an anomaly. So, although I could certainly just improve my teaching and playing chops by studying privately and observing other teachers...it wouldn't be a degree-in-hand and I may have more difficulty recruiting students because of that, if their parents are confused by the term "musicology" or don't see "piano" in the degree name.

    One much less involved option is to get the Nationally Certified Teacher in Music certification through the MTNA. That wouldn't let me recycle any of my coursework, though. I'm not aware of any piano pedagogy diplomas for graduate-level students. Another possibility is that I could do collaborative piano, which does have diploma programs at some schools, but it seems to me that collaborative performance is not as much a thing you really *need* to have a degree to do. Potential performing partners just want to know that you can play. The credentials are more important for pedagogy.
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 9,863 Senior Member
    I am curious about the pedagogy degree. I never looked for that degree when looking for teachers, but none of my kids played piano at a high level. I haven't seen a freelance teacher or a secondary school teacher with that degree, or, as I remember, conservatory prep. I suppose I would have been impressed with a teacher with a PhD in musicology, back when my kids were young.

    However, your statement that you want your studies to match what you are doing with your life makes sense. You have spent a lot of time already on musicology and if that is not what you are interested in anymore, it would be hard to spend three more years and do the writing.

    I can understand that you are trying to find a path that does not waste the coursework you have done in your PhD program, and also that there are financial concerns. Since you do not want to go into academia, I am wondering if you can apply any of your courses to an MM in piano performance, or if you would want to (and if you could get funding).

    Anyway, sorry not to answer your question! I guess you would have to call the schools. Or maybe someone who is knowledgeable on this will come on the forum.

    Good luck!
  • GradMusicianGradMusician Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    @compmom Yes--if I cannot find a DMA program that will accept a good number of my credits, or if I'm stuck in a location where accessible universities do not offer a DMA but have an MM in pedagogy or piano accompanying, that would be my Plan B. I'm not interested in doing solo performance degrees (a private teacher would be much more cost-effective there). But the couple of universities at which I've already inquired about this situation re: MM degrees have said that they would only take up to 6 transfer credits from elsewhere (which might amount to 2 seminars). In that case it's not worth the effort.
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 9,863 Senior Member
    This is an intriguing situation. Would you ever consider finishing the dissertation plus private piano studies? Are you tired of musicology?! I hope you get good information from the schools or someone else who comes on here :)
  • GradMusicianGradMusician Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    @compmom at this point I'm considering the musicology dissertation to be more of a distraction from things like teaching, performing, etc. that I really want to do. So dissertating plus lessons wouldn't solve that (or provide a piano-related diploma). The teacher I really like is also hundreds of miles away and to access that teacher would basically require moving back in with or uncomfortably near my parents.

    Basically my line of inquiry here is...can I turn some of my existing coursework into a relevant diploma and can I potentially earn that diploma in less time than a dissertation would take?
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 9,863 Senior Member
    I wish someone would answer who knew. It sounds reasonable to me. What I know from my own kid is that the devil is in the details and you might want to ask the relevant schools, or meet with someone in the department.
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