MA
2022 start September 

Music Performance Studies

Department of Music, Faculty of Arts and Humanities

Develop as a performer with stylistic awareness and an understanding of how to prepare for the concert platform and take part in a public recital at the end of your course in September.
A postgraduate student playing the piano

Course description

This course is designed to help you build the stylistic awareness and advanced techniques to perform music at concert level. Through workshops, masterclasses and one-to-one lessons with specialist tutors, you will hone your abilities as both a solo and ensemble performer, culminating in a public recital at the end of your course. Students can either choose to take a piano performance pathway or instrumental performance pathway.
You will have the opportunity to engage in modules that develop your understanding of performance as a research informed discipline, whilst also having the opportunity to collaborate on creative projects with students from other programmes.

The department plays an important role in Sheffield's thriving cultural life, and students have frequent opportunities to perform for the University of Sheffield Concerts, a concert series that hosts varied performances from world-wide professional musicians throughout the year.

How to apply

You can choose to take a piano performance pathway or an instrumental performance pathway. Please select the relevant course when you apply:

  • MA Music Performance Studies (Piano) MUST73
  • MA Music Performance Studies MUST64

You'll need to provide a portfolio with your application.

Apply now

Accreditation

We are an All-Steinway School.

Highlights from University of Sheffield Concerts

Modules

The modules listed below are examples from the last academic year. There may be some changes before you start your course. For the very latest module information, check with the department directly.

You will select either the piano or the non-piano pathway.

Core modules:

Academic Skills

This module provides a general introduction to academic skills in music, assisting with the transition to PGT study, with particular reference to :
(1) accessing library resources
(2) critically evaluating academic literature
(3) developing feedback literacy
(4) understanding employability skills and career opportunities
(5) reflective writing skills
(6) understanding the wider field of music research beyond their discipline
These skills are taught in the context of five Graduate Study Days (normally weighted towards the first semester to assist transition to PGT study) which the students attend alongside the rest of the graduate community. . Students submit a short portfolio of critical writing and a piece of reflective writing that charts their skill development. As part of the portfolio, students are encouraged to engage with department activities outside these contact hours, such as attending performances in the concert series, talks in the department seminar series, and taking part in study skill development through activities such as reading groups.

15 credits
Advanced Ensemble Performance Skills

This module aims to develop students' ensemble performance skills to an advanced level by taking a critical and reflective perspective on one's performance in an ensemble context, considering the role of musicians in accompaniment and chamber music settings, and by researching relevant aspects of ensemble performance related to repertoire, musical communication, and performance expression. This module has an extensive practical component with students working with other MA and UG students towards a 15-minute recital examination. There is also a 2000-word portfolio including a critical reflection on musical communication, the rehearsal process and the repertoire choices with reference to existing performances.

30 credits

Piano pathway - you will take:

Historically-Informed Piano Performance

This module will introduce students to historically-informed performance practice as a core component of the performance of western classical music. By engaging with primary source material, scholarly research, recordings and live performances, students will approach piano performance as a research-informed discipline. The module will include a mixture of lectures and performance workshops, , and will culminate with a performance presentation of a programme and topic chosen by the student.

30 credits
Piano Recital

This unit constitutes a practical examination of a cross-section where each student will explore and investigate appropriate styles of interpretation and performance for a representative range of repertoire, from the baroque period to the present day, the whole informed by reference to recent musicological scholarship and current theories relating to piano performance practice. Work will be supported and supplemented by individual piano tuition. A 45-minute public piano recital demonstrating keen stylistic awareness, accomplished technical control, imaginative use of colour and texture and highly communicative. The student will engage with the audience in expressing their interpretations of chosen repertoire at a professional standard.

60 credits

Non-piano pathway - you will take:

Historically-Informed Performance

This module will introduce students to historically-informed performance practice as a core component of the performance of western classical music. By engaging with primary source material, scholarly research, recordings and live performances, students will approach performance as a research-informed discipline. The module will include a mixture of lectures and performance workshops and will culminate with a performance presentation of a programme and topic chosen by the student.

30 credits
Recital

This unit constitutes a practical examination of a cross-section where each student will explore and investigate appropriate styles of interpretation and performance for a representative range of repertoire, from the classical period to the present day, the whole informed by reference to recent musicological scholarship and current theories relating to performance practice. Work will be supported and supplemented by individual instrumental instituton. If preferred, a themed recital may be programmed. A 45-minute public recital demonstrating keen stylistic awareness, accomplished technical control, imaginative use of colour and texture and highly communicative. The student will engage with the audience in expressing their interpretations of chosen repertoire at a professional standard.

60 credits

Recommended and optional modules - both pathways:

Subject to the approval of the course director.

Collaborative practice, public engagement and impact

Collaborative practice, public engagement and impact’ supports projects that entail an aspect of collaboration, co-operation, knowledge exchange or impact. Students are supported to form relevant partnerships within or outside the module, department, faculty or university, which may be with an/another artist or practitioner (e.g. scientist, engineer), or with a venue such as a concert hall, gallery, museum or media outlet. Within the context of these partnerships students will design and execute projects leading to a live performance, presentation or event. KE or impact-focussed projects will be mandated to involve a public audience. Projects may involve diverse media and may be presented in a live or digital/mixed format. In order to accommodate a wide range of arts and humanities practices, including novel formats engendered through the module, the assessment format will be approved on an individual basis within specified parameters appropriate to the project.
Indicative projects include:
- Collaboration with an/another artist within or outside the student’s discipline to produce a new artistic work
- Collaboration with a scientist, engineer or other academic, to produce an event, experiment, demonstration or new tool
- Co-operation/partnership with an external organisation, venue or media outlet to produce or present work to a public audience
- Innovative presentation

30 credits
Communicating about music and music research

This exciting module is delivered in collaboration with the English Language Teaching Centre, and is directed at all students who wish to work on English communication skills - written and oral, in order to reach a variety of audiences interested in music and music research. Assessments for this module provide opportunities to improve academic writing skills, which can benefit performance in other modules. They also offer the opportunity to engage with a broad spectrum of written and oral communication, useful for academic and professional contexts.

15 credits
Critical Listening and the Musical Work

Students will consider recordings across a range of genres from European and American music to develop their critical listening skills and understanding of musical works. Classes will cover broader questions in the first half of the module, giving way to focused case studies in the second.
Key issues may include:
what is a musical work?;
what is critical listening?;
scores and editions;
positionality;
types and values;
taste and recordings;
reception of recordings;
recording over time;
and other issues and ideas in musical listening.
Weekly listening and research tasks will contribute to an independent project, which will be assessed through a presentation and short essay.

15 credits
Critical Listening and the Musical Work

Students will consider recordings across a range of genres from European and American music to develop their critical listening skills and understanding of musical works. Classes will cover broader questions in the first half of the module, giving way to focused case studies in the second.
Key issues may include:
what is a musical work?;
what is critical listening?;
scores and editions;
positionality;
types and values;
taste and recordings;
reception of recordings;
recording over time;
and other issues and ideas in musical listening.

Weekly listening and research tasks will contribute to an independent project, which will be assessed through a presentation and short essay.

30 credits
Performing World Music

The unit provides an opportunity to integrate practice in an unfamiliar musical genre into the MA in Ethnomusicology (and also, as an option, into the MA Music Performance Studies and MA Musicology). Taught weekly in practical classes, the unit will focus on the music of one tradition hitherto unfamiliar to the class in question, requiring them to learn vocal or instrumental performance in that style. Students will back up their practice-based understanding of the world music tradition with an online learning diary and theoretical knowledge derived from the ethnomusicological literature. Their practical learning leads to a performance examination with an oral component dealing with historical, organological or cultural aspects of the same musical tradition.

30 credits

Optional modules - both pathways:

Subject to the approval of the course director.

Topics in Musicology

This unit gives students the opportunity to develop skills and knowledge in a focused area of musicolgy. Students will explore the literature related to a specific topic in depth, and will write an essay that responds to the current state of the literature in this area. Topics offered will be in line with staff research interests, but the exact number and selection of topics will depend on student demand.

30 credits
Critical Musicology

This unit acts as an introduction to key trends and figures in musicology from the mid-twentieth century to the present day. Students will learn techniques and skills related to the literature in the field, and will employ them in an essay on a topic of their own choice.

30 credits
Selected Topics in Music Psychology

This module provides an introduction to the core topics in the psychology of music. Topics covered can be selected from psychoacoustics and perception, cognition of musical structure, emotion and meaning in music, developmental psychology of music, psychological approaches to performance, social and applied music psychology, including music therapy and music education.

15 credits
Topics in Music Psychology

This module provides an introduction to the core topics in the psychology of music, including psychoacoustics and perception, cognition of musical structure, emotion and meaning in music, development psychology of music, psychological approaches to performance, and social and applied music psychology, including music therapy and music education.

30 credits
Qualitative Data Collection

This module provides a research training in qualitative research data collection relevant to the study of musical behaviour. The module consists of teaching and learning of qualitative research design techniques, including ethical consideration and evaluation of methods through pilot studies and critique of existing research. The module is assessed through a portfolio of qualitative data collection tools, including questionnaires and interview schedules, which the student has designed, piloted and evaluated.

15 credits
Qualitative Research Techniques

This module provides a research training in a qualititative research techniques relevant to the study of musical behaviour. This module consists of teaching and learning of qualitative research design and analysis techniques in a seminar setting, plus a group project in which an empirical study is executed and reported. This project is assessed by means of an individual report of 6,000 words.

30 credits

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption. We are no longer offering unrestricted module choice. If your course included unrestricted modules, your department will provide a list of modules from their own and other subject areas that you can choose from.

Teaching

The course is taught through lectures, workshops and tutorials. These are combined with departmental study days and extracurricular individual instrumental or vocal tuition, professional workshops, and performance opportunities, all of which makes for a stimulating and supportive study environment.

Learn more about your supervisors:

Assessment

You'll be assessed through practical, experiential and theoretical methods that include performances, presentations and essays. You will work towards a final recital at the end of the course, and written essays will assess your knowledge of a broad range of current artistic practices along with your skills in evaluation, analysis and criticism, information organisation and writing.

Duration

  • 1 year full-time
  • 2 years part-time

Your career

Many of our graduates have found success in the music profession as performers, while a large number have gone onto teach or establish their own music freelance business. Others have stayed to continue their studies at PhD level, or taken up offers to study further at leading music conservatoires.

Student profiles

Group of postgraduate music students with harp

Studying a performance-based masters in a university where there are experts in other areas is a great opportunity. Being able to address my performance with new perspectives as a result of cross-specialisation input has brought new ideas and freshness to my own approach as a musician.

Alison York

MA Music Performance Studies

Entry requirements

You'll need a 2:1 in music or a combined degree with a substantial music component.

Degrees in other related subjects may be acceptable depending on your background.

Provide a portfolio with your application

When you apply you'll need to provide a portfolio in the form of a video. It must include two contrasting pieces of different styles and eras that demonstrate your expressive and technical flexibility. Classical singers should choose works in two different languages. Musicians performing in a popular style can choose works from the same era but they should show sufficient contrast. The portfolio should be approximately 20 minutes.

To submit your portfolio, you should do one of the following:

  • upload your video recordings with your postgraduate online application
  • provide an online link to your performance portfolio in your postgraduate online application

Overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.

Pathway programme for international students

If you're an international student who does not meet the entry requirements for this course, you have the opportunity to apply for a pre-masters programme in Business, Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Sheffield International College. This course is designed to develop your English language and academic skills. Upon successful completion, you can progress to degree level study at the University of Sheffield.

We also accept a range of other UK qualifications and other EU/international qualifications.

If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

Fees and funding

University funding and scholarships opportunities are available each year. Please check the department funding webpages for music specific scholarships. Department scholarships details are released in the January prior to the start of your course.

Funding information on the Department of Music website

Apply

You can apply for postgraduate study using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.

Apply now

Contact

music-admissions@sheffield.ac.uk
+44 114 222 0495

Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

Our student protection plan

Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.

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