Spring 2021 Commencement

Hayes School of Music - Recognition of Graduates

In addition to the live and virtual Commencement ceremonies, the Hayes School of Music offers graduates the opportunity to celebrate their achievements in front of friends, family, faculty, and staff in the following ZOOM events.  Graduates will receive ZOOM links in their email to share with family. For more details, Hayes School of Music students and families may check their email or call (828) 262-3030.

  • Graduate Hooding: Thursday, May 6th at 5:00pm
  • Undergraduate Commencement Recognition: Friday, May 7th at 7:00pm
Dr. James Douthit, Dean

Dr. James Douthit, Dean

The faculty and I stand at the ready to assist you during the next years of your career. As you continue to “Make the Most of Now” we hope that we are a part of that moment and look forward to sharing your challenges and successes as you engage your passion for music in your profession for life.

Dr. Rodney Reynerson, Mace Bearer

Dr. Rodney Reynerson, Mace Bearer

The Mace Bearer for the Hayes School of Music is Dr. Rodney Reynerson, Professor of Piano and Keyboard Area Coordinator. 

Associate Dean Dr. Jay Jackson will carry the banner for the Hayes School of Music for some in-person ceremonies. 

Message from Dean James Douthit

To the Hayes School of Music Class of 2021:

Stanford University’s Neurosciences Institute describes the rather complicated and involved process of playing the piano:

“Consider the pianist. They press on smooth black and white keys, hundreds of muscles are whirring away inside their body, and their brain is performing complicated emotional and analytical processes. Although every independent movement of the pianist’s hands is one they’ll make while doing other tasks, their coordination yields a unique product: music. The pianist’s strategies to generate and optimize their performance are constrained by their muscular and nervous systems. Coordinating their right and left hands is just one of the tasks their brain needs to carry out while playing music.”

Some neurologists have estimated that the number of distinct choices a pianist needs to manage to be about 90 per second.  In other words, the pianist lives in a world of efficiency by necessity with little opportunity for distraction or chance.  I have titled this concept “Making the Most of Now”.  For pianists and all musicians, fractions of a second make a difference in the outcome of our performances; however, we must make the most of each moment in order for our music to carry expressive meaning for our listeners.

The Class of 2021 has certainly had to “Make the Most of Now” during their last three semesters in the Hayes School of Music.  In spite of the many challenges you have faced, the Class of 2021 has taught in music classrooms, practiced music therapy in clinics, contributed to the music industry through internships, and performed on stages all with unprecedented challenges of difficulty.  With many questions and challenges you have persevered.  In an environment that was fairly unstable, you have maintained your dedication to your intended music profession and will enter a new world where your careers in music will have profound impact.  After the last year, our world will desperately need the professional skills and musicianship you have garnered.  While the development of these skills has been accomplished in new and original ways,  one thing that will remain consistent is the pride the Hayes School of Music Faculty has in our graduates.  The faculty are dedicated to the success of each student.  While the students have been “Making the Most of Now”, faculty have achieved similar ends.  They worked in both traditional and new ways to share their passion for music with their students.  

The faculty and I stand at the ready to assist you during the next years of your career. The Hayes School of Music has a wealth of resources that we hope you will continue to explore and use long after celebrating commencement. To each of our graduates, “You have left a piece of your heart in the Broyhill Music Center, and you are taking a piece of our hearts with you. We hope our bond will be the continued source of inspiration and learning from each other in the years to come.”  As you continue to “Make the Most of Now” we hope that we are a part of that moment and look forward to sharing your challenges and successes as you engage your passion for music in your profession for life.

Faculty Recognition

Congratulations to the following Hayes School of Music faculty receiving awards this year!

Dr. Christine Leist, Professor of Music Therapy
Board of Governors Appalachian State University School/College Award

Dr. Bethany Wiese, Associate Professor of Tuba and Euphonium
HSOM Dean’s Student Advisory Council - Student Award for Excellence in Teaching 2019-2020

Promoted to Full Professor

  • Dr. Eric Koontz  (Viola, Strings Area Coordinator)
  • Dr. Lisa Runner (Music Education)
  • Dr. Christine Leist (Music Therapy)

Tenured and Promoted to Associate Professor

  • Dr. Adam Booker (String Bass)
  • Dr. Beth Wiese (Tuba and Euphonium)

Commencement Performers

The Virtual Commencement Ceremony on May 7 will feature a performance by Nicholas Lipsette (Bachelor of Music in Trumpet Performance, 2021). Nicholas will play the first movement of the Concerto in D by Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770).

Hayes School of Music students provided recorded performances of Pomp and Circumstance and The Star-Spangled Banner for the Virtual Commencement Ceremony.

Pomp and Circumstance, Op. 39, No. 1
by Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934)
Arranged for Brass Ensemble by Roger Harvey

Performed by Appalachian State University Brass Choir
Members of the Hayes School of Music
Director: Dr James M. Stokes, Jr.
Producer/Audio Engineer: Scott Wynne, Hunter Evans, Trevor Rowe 

  • Trumpet: Nicholas Lipsette, Anna Sheppard, Tanner Morrison
  • Horn: Grace Sarris, Sebastien Silvers
  • Trombone: Matthew Wise, Cameron Collar, Jason Wise
  • Tuba: Dylan Hickok 


Congratulations to the more than 1,580 Mountaineers graduating today — especially the 43 graduating from the Hayes School of Music. We are so proud of all you've accomplished! Visit appstate.edu/commencement/#social to see the ways you can view and participate in today's commencement ceremony.