An institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Music since 1951, the Department of Music has a long heritage of performance and academic excellence. Faculty of the Department of Music have distinguished themselves on the stage and in the classroom, achieving local and national recognition ranging from the MS Humanities Council to the American Society of Composers and Publishers. Many of the music department's graduates have gone on to distinguished careers in music.
Music has been an important part of life at Mississippi College for over a hundred years. On the wall of the Kroger store in Clinton is a very large photo of a band of snappy looking gentlemen with clarinets, saxophones, trombone, drums, and piano; the date of the photo is "early 1900's." Today, music has a very strong role in the life of the college as a whole with active programs in vocal music, piano, instrumental music, organ, composition and theory, church music, and music education.
Students from all parts of the university participate in the Mississippi College Singers, Women's Chamber, Men's Glee, Marching Band, Concert Band, Jazz Band, Opera/Music Theatre Workshop and Vocal Jazz Ensemble.
Older students will recognize names of faculty such as "Pop" Ellzey, Mr. and Mrs. Grady Cox, Mickey Landrum, Mary Berner, and Allan Fuller. In more recent years, vocal students learned from Gerald Claxton, Forrestine Holt, Rose Mary Porter, Rolland Shaw, Frank Stovall, Chandler Thompson, Cindy Morrow, Richard Joiner, Dana Rice, Nell Adams, Edward Dacus, Viola Dacus, Jamie Meaders, Ross Price, and Kristen Johnson. Students in choirs raised their voices under the leadership of Jack Lyall, John Johnson, Rolland Shaw, James Glass, Tommy Speigner, Richard Joiner and Jamie Meaders. Band members marched and played under Ralph Carroll, Jack Jones, Glenn Triplett, John Hanbery, and Craig Young. Ralph Carroll and Bonnie Blu Williams have been teaching the music education majors for many years. Pianists have learned their scales and sonatas under Patricia Walston, Ralph Taylor, Janet Taylor, Melody Hanberry, Carol Durham, Michael Rushing and Angela Willoughby while the organ students pulled out all the stops under the watchful eyes of Billy Trotter and Robert Knupp. All music majors were early risers to participate in theory and ear training classes taught by Charles Knox, Janet Taylor, Robert Knupp, Lewis Oswalt, John Hanbery, Billy Trotter, Ben Williams and James Sclater. Vocalists and instrumentalists were fortunate to have access to the accompanying skills of Carol Joy Sparkman, Carol Durham and Linda Edwards.
Over the last fifty years, department chairmen such as Jack Lyall, Frank Stovall, Richard Joiner and Jamie Meaders have labored long and hard to make the music department all that it could be.
The high quality of instruction received by the music students is reflected in the fact that, year after year, students win awards at NATS, MMTA and various other competitions. Through the years, MC music students have made a name for themselves in America and Europe. Today's students build on a legacy of service and hard work, continuing the proud musical traditions of the past.