Offered by the Yong Siew Toh (YST) Conservatory of Music at the National University of Singapore (NUS), the Master of Music Leadership (MMusL) is a 40-modular credit (MC) graduate coursework programme specially designed to support musicians who wish to advance their skills and be leaders of change within the rapidly evolving musical landscape in Singapore and the world.

With an emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovative thinking, the MMusL programme equips graduates to keep pace with the changes wrought by rapid technological development, digitalisation of the music profession and the requisite need for inter- and cross-disciplinary competences and collaboration.

“When YST was first established, we set out to build a world class conservatory and Singaporeans benefited from our undergraduate professional training programme in music. Many alumni have since gone on to either professional work or more advanced study,” said Associate Professor Chan Tze Law, YST’s Vice Dean (Career Orientation & Community Engagement), who is also overseer of the MMusL programme.

“This year, we are celebrating our 20th anniversary, and more than 700 graduates. Given that YST is only 20 years old, we turned our attention to music professionals who might have wished for something like this before YST was formed. We wanted to offer them the YST experience too.”

Originally rolled out as a forerunner programme called Continuing Professional Education (CPE) with a small number of graduates, the introduction of the SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) funding scheme provided YST with the necessary boost to develop more targeted programmes.

“Musicians are sometimes a victim of circumstance… you can imagine a student member of a school band who happens to be a very talented instrumentalist. On graduating from his or her secondary school, the band instructor requests them to stay on and help build the band together. 15 to 20 years later, the older instructor retires and passes the baton to the younger one. The young instructor has contributed significantly to the band’s development and achievements, but potentially sacrificed their own professional development opportunities in the process.”

“Therefore, we need to create another pathway for successful music professionals who might have wished to enjoy going through a conservatory level undergraduate programme in their time, but are now of a particular profile, age as well as career stature.”

“We thought: instead of them offering another Bachelor’s degree in music (with some possibly already holding non-music undergraduate degrees), why not offer them something for the next major step in their careers? At the same time, our CPE learners were also indicating a strong desire for access to a Master’s programme at YST. In response to these considerations, we developed the MMusL, for practitioners who find themselves in or entering positions of influence and leadership, and wish to better equip themselves for their trajectory ahead.”

Designed primarily as a part time programme (5 to 8 semesters over 2.5 to 4 years), the MMusL is also available as a full time course (2 to 4 semesters over 1 to 2 years).

The programme is designed for music industry practitioners who have completed a qualifying Bachelor’s degree or equivalent professional practice in Singapore or overseas of note.

“For a graduate degree programme, this is a basic NUS requirement. However, in lieu of such qualifications and for exceptional cases, we also take into consideration the practitioner’s distinctive professional achievements, as indicators of potential success in successfully completing the programme.”

With access to world-class faculties within NUS, the MMusL curriculum adopts an interdisciplinary approach to increase students’ understanding of the musical ecosystem, diversify their skillsets and promote critical thinking.

To graduate, students from the MMusL programme must read and pass a total of 40 Modular Credits (MCs), fulfilling all Core module requirements, Modules in Music Perspectives and Practices, and elective modules (totalling 20 MCs), and maintain a minimum CAP of 3.50 throughout the course of study.

“These three components add up to the graduation requirements of 40 modular credits (MCs). Some of the modules in the Elective component are YST SSG/CET modules that learners have already taken, which can count towards MMusL graduation requirements.”

“We recognise that some of the learners in this programme would be mature age practitioners who would need to continue with their careers. We allow them to read a minimum of four modular credits a year to maintain enrolment status, alongside a capstone research project as well as engaging in external collaborations.”

Matriculation to the programme will take place twice a year – once in Semester 1 (August) and once in Semester 2 (January).

Having already admitted two intakes since its inception, the MMusL programme has seen a diverse range of music leaders join its postgraduate MMusL programme, including ethnic instrumentalists, band and ensemble directors, MOE teachers, international music graduates, music journalists and music entrepreneurs.

“We provide all the tools to do with critical thinking and inquiry, research methodology and practice, and articulating one’s vision and thinking, through modules in business, leadership, research and professional practice – to prepare our students for the many potential futures they will go on to experience, shape and create.”

For more information on the Masters of Music Leadership, click here


Written By Editor

A contributing editor at TBP.