Bachelor of Music in Music Performance, Sacred Music Concentration

Appalachian's Sacred Music program is designed for students who want to serve tradition-rooted churches that are also open to fine contemporary music in a variety of styles. The program welcomes students from all denominational backgrounds.

The Sacred Music concentration of the Music Performance degree prepares students for full-time or part-time positions in church music. Some of our graduates go directly into church work. Some go into graduate school or seminary, where they might pursue graduate degrees in church music, music ministry, performance, or conducting.

Because most church music positions are for choral directors, organists, pianists or a combination of those, the Sacred Music program will be most helpful to vocalists or keyboardists. However, the program is open to and suitable for other instrumental principals.

The Sacred Music program is intended to give the student:

  • a foundation in understanding worship traditions and trends.
  • practical skills including conducting, accompanying, knowledge of appropriate literature, and administrative abilities.

Coursework includes all required courses for most music majors, such as Conducting, Music Theory and Aural Skills, and Music History and Literature. Sacred Music majors add one course from the Music Education curriculum, which will help prepare them for work with children and youth. Additionally, there are five courses specific to the Sacred Music Degree:

  • Liturgies, in which we study the history and layout of many Christian and Jewish forms of worship services.
  • Organization and Philosophy of Church Music, in which we study the theology and philosophy of music and worship in the church, and the hands-on, practical aspects of church music programs.
  • Sacred Music Literature and Materials, in which we explore various planning resources in several denominations and explore a large repertoire of sacred choral music and the history of congregational song.
  • Service Playing (for keyboardists), or Pedagogy and Literature (for other students). The Service Playing course expands students' keyboard and accompanying skills toward service playing. Pedagogy and Literature gives students a working historical knowledge of the literature for their instrument and deals with teaching materials and techniques in the student's performance area.
  • Internship in Church Music, in which the student takes a part-time position in a church to gain practical experience as part of the degree.

Because Music Education and Sacred Music have several courses in common, Music Education majors (especially vocalists) may easily add Sacred Music as a double major.

Faculty in the Sacred Music Program:

For more information on these and other courses and degree requirements, visit the Hayes School of Music Homepage. If you have any questions regarding the Sacred Music curriculum, please contact Dr. Joby Bell at 828-262-6467 or

All students wishing to enter the School of Music must complete a successful audition on their principal instrument or voice. The School of Music schedules certain audition dates each year for all interested students. Organ students may set up their audition for any date and time by contacting Dr. Bell.