Three Music Degrees Approved at TAMIU Brighten Future for Music Education

Aspiring music students can now pursue their dream education in Laredo thanks to the recent State approval of three music degree offerings at Texas A&M International University.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has authorized TAMIU to confer three degrees in music including the bachelor of arts in music, bachelor of music and bachelor of music with all-level certification. This brings the University's combined undergraduate and graduate degree inventory to 55.

The degrees come at a time of historic growth at TAMIU, where a $21.5 million Center for the Fine and Performing Arts is also being constructed.

"Everyone who has ever lived in Laredo knows what prodigious musical talent fills our city," said TAMIU president Dr. Ray Keck, "The Vidal M. Treviño Magnet School opened a new era in music performance and study. And now, the bachelor's programs in music at the University provide professional opportunities for students from our schools and from LCC to continue their advanced study of music in Laredo."

The music programs are part of TAMIU's long-range plan to promote the study of the visual and performing arts and the University estimates 63 percent of TAMIU's music graduates during the first five years would pursue teacher certification.

"The significance of having these degrees is that this community has historically been short of music educators as well as professional performers," said Dr. Gilberto D. Soto, associate professor of music. "By offering these degrees, our local students will have the opportunity to study for these careers in Laredo rather than going out of town. The chances for them to stay and work at the local level will be greater."

Dr. Soto explained that the three degrees would offer a variety of job opportunities.

While the bachelor of arts in music is a generalist degree that would allow graduates to seek a University degree without a total specialization, the bachelor of music will be performance-oriented and lead to performance jobs and employment with musical organizations. The bachelor of music with all-level certification is a degree designed for future music educators, Soto said.

Soto said the three degrees were approved at a time when TAMIU is seeing record enrollment by music students.

"In the fall of 1999, we had 184 students. That number increased to 292 in Spring 2001 and to 660 in Spring 2002. These students have been taking music courses while waiting for the music degrees to be approved. Now that the approval has been confirmed, we expect an even greater number of students to pursue their music education at TAMIU," Soto said.

The new degrees, coupled with a recent collaborative agreement TAMIU signed with the Laredo Philharmonic Orchestra and Laredo Community College, brightens the future of the performing arts in the community, Soto said.

"We have always been committed to our community by supporting numerous events in the area of art, dance and music. With the latest agreement with the LPO and LCC and degree offerings, we will be creating opportunities for our local students to receive quality education from professional musicians that come to perform here in our city. At the same time, the community will benefit from an increase in performances and events," he said.

Soto said that the construction completion for the Center for the Fine and Performing Arts is scheduled for 2003.

The Center, an ultra-modern facility and a highlight of TAMIU's campus, will feature a symphony and recital hall, theater, lobby, art gallery, music rehearsal hall, black box theatre, visual arts complex, communication complex, lecture halls, dance studios, sculpture garden, music library, costume shops, classrooms, painting studios, green rooms and various faculty offices.

For further information, please contact Soto at 326-2649, e-mail gsoto@tamiu.edu or visit offices located in Pellegrino Hall 215B. University office hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.


Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu