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Musical Studies - Composition

B.M. in Musical Studies

There are two tracks within the Musical Studies major: Composition and Music Theory/ History.

The composition degree at The Crane School of Music maintains a rich tradition of fostering creativity. Our selective program encourages students to work independently and to collaborate with performers as a means to discover their unique creative voices within the context of a stylistically diverse musical world. Student composers at Crane have the opportunity to create music in a broad range of styles and media, hear their music played at concerts, recitals and ensemble reading sessions, and work closely with our renowned faculty and guest composers. Successful graduates have completed advanced degrees at leading graduate schools across the country, joined the composition faculties of colleges and universities, worked as independent composers, arrangers, educators and producers nationwide, and collaborated with renowned ensembles and performers around the world.


Students will be able to:

  • notate a newly encountered melody accurately and efficiently.
  • demonstrate competency in musical performance.
  • demonstrate knowledge of pivotal historical events, societal attitudes, aesthetic and artistic trends, and to identify their interrelationship with music.
  • demonstrate professional skills in music composition.

Career Outlook

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“Every composer has their own aesthetic style and SUNY Potsdam has given me the ability to understand other composers’ music to make my own better."

Brook D’Aprile
Finding Mentors for Success

Marking the culmination of her success as a musical studies major at Crane, Christina Morris ’21 recently staged A Concert for Equity and Equality at Hosmer Hall. Pouring her heart and soul into the concert, she organized the event, secured a grant to pay her musicians and composers, and then conducted the concert from start to finish. She leaves Crane with unrivaled experiences—working one-on-one with Crane professors, touring Asia with the National Youth Orchestra, and attending Tanglewood’s prestigious conducting program—as she embarks on a career in conducting.

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SUNY Potsdam’s TikTok Sensation

A refuge from the grief of COVID-19 became a way to connect with millions of viewers for alumnus Daniel Mertzlufft '15. His viral TikTok videos struck a chord with many, including the Late Late Show’s James Corden, who recently hosted him on the show and featured Mertzlufft’s latest hit, “The Thanksgiving Musical,” a tension-relieving romp through collective pandemic realities, holiday foibles, and even post-election drama.

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The Man Behind the Music

The otherworldly sound of an orchestra playing Adagio for Strings can be lost without someone like Dr. Douglas McKinnie, the audio and video streaming engineer at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music. Since 2014, McKinnie has worked behind the scenes at Crane to ensure that hundreds of performances are professionally recorded—leaning on two decades of experience as the chief engineer of live sound at Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. 

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