Bachelor of Arts

Professional Music

In a time of rapid change in the professional music world, learn the diverse skill sets needed to succeed in your music career. Build a strong foundation of music theory, production and performance, working in our new state-of-the-art Performing Arts Lab, and graduate with the technical and entrepreneurial skills to pursue jobs as producer, performer, writer or engineer.

The Bachelor of Arts in Professional Music is a performance-based degree designed to provide you with a contemporary modern musical skill set—real-world marketable skills that are generally not taught in traditional university music degrees. It is also designed with input from ‘working musicians’ who hold traditional college music degrees, and therefore largely addresses those areas and skills musicians say they ‘wish they had learned in school.'

The degree emphasizes individual musicianship and a proficiency in multiple musical skills, rather than developing expertise on one instrument only, as is typical of traditional performance degrees. It uses a diversity of popular musical styles to teach musicianship, rather than the classical repertoire most often used to teach musicianship in traditional university programs. The degree is also flexibly designed to maximize personal growth, giving you the opportunity to both excel in strength areas and develop secondary skill areas that pertain to your individual career goals. You may choose a traditional band or orchestral instrument as your primary area of study, or choose traditional, jazz or contemporary popular voice, beatmaking/turntablism/production, or an instrument unique to a particular style of popular music. At the same time, you will develop a high level of core musicianship while learning the skills needed to be flexible and adaptable to the ever-changing face of contemporary music.

The commercial music performance skill areas developed in the degree include:

  • Developing expertise performing in popular styles on one’s primary instrument
  • Developing a competence on the rhythm section instruments of piano, guitar, bass and percussion
  • Writing and arranging music in popular styles and for multiple types of ensembles
  • Developing expertise as a bandleader
  • Developing expertise as a teacher on one’s primary instrument
  • Develop expertise as a musical entrepreneur, providing career and band management and marketing

The new degree responds to the needs of the projected job growth among musicians. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 30% growth among independent musicians (2008-2018), making it the fastest-growing sector among those employed in music-related industries (compared to a projected 8% job growth among all musicians and related workers).

The BA in professional music mirrors cutting-edge degree programs being offered at a few colleges and universities in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Nashville. It also reflects the burgeoning academic area of popular music performance study that has recently become common in the UK, Australia, Scandinavia, and elsewhere abroad. It places Tiffin University at the forefront of music higher education, making TU one of only a handful of schools nationwide addressing this growing niche market. The degree builds on TU’s reputation of forward-thinking music performance and career training.

The degree relies on an experienced full-time teaching staff of professional performers, experienced educators, writers & arrangers, record producers and musical entrepreneurs. You will also benefit from study with a large community of professional musicians who specialize in a variety of instruments and musical styles. As a student in the program, you will also enjoy many opportunities to perform alongside professionals as a part of the regional community of working musicians, opening up potential future performing opportunities and developing a network of future colleagues.

Core Curriculum of the School of Arts & Sciences 37 hours
Professional Music 48 hours

  • MUP121 Musicianship I
  • MUP221 Musicianship II
  • MUP240 The Rhythm Section
  • MUP321 Musicianship III
  • MUP322 Musicianship IV
  • MUP351 Music Listening & Analysis I
  • MUP352 Music Listening & Analysis II
  • MUP440 Teaching Music
  • MUS100 Music Convocation (6 semesters required)
  • The following sequence:
    • MUS115, 116, 215, 216, 315, 316 Private Music Instruction: Primary Area
  • MUS110 or MUS112
  • MUS210 or MUS212
  • MUS310 or MUS312
  • MUS230 Introduction to Sound and Recording
  • MUS324 Survey of American Popular Music (w)
  • MUS327 Survey of Music Business
  • MUS330 Recording Studio Performance & Practice
  • SAS499 Senior Seminar

Total BA hours 121-123 hours


This is a sample course sequence to illustrate course offerings for this major. Consult the official Academic Bulletin for detailed registration and advising information.

On Campus - Offered in a 15-week semester format with start dates of January and August

<p>There are no related concentrations available</p>

Musicianship I (MUP121) - This course covers the basics of music theory, including concepts of sound, music notation, rhythm, meter, intervals, modes, scales and triads. Additionally, students will learn functional/foundational keyboard skills and how to apply these basic theoretical concepts to a keyboard instrument.

Musicianship II (MUP221) - This course presents an expanded understanding of basic music theory concepts through the use of harmonic analysis, composition, sight singing, ear training and transcription. Students will also learn how these concepts apply to keyboard instruments playing scales, chords and harmonic progressions.

The Rhythm Section (MUP240) - This course is designed to introduce students to playing and performing in a pop, jazz or rock rhythm section. Students learn the rhythm section roles and functions of keyboard, guitar, bass and drums, and over the course of the semester are introduced to basic playing technique on three different instruments. The course focuses on playing together in small groups of three or four students and is open to all students regardless of major or experience level.

Music Listening and Analysis I & Music Listening and Analysis II (MUP351 & MUP352) - This sequence is designed to give students an exposure to the evolution of music history, but with an approach that differs from traditional music history courses. Instead of presenting dozens of musical styles and hundreds of composers and performers, the courses explore a limited number of significant pieces at a greater depth, using these representative examples to develop students’ critical listening and analytical skills, aesthetic sensibilities, and historical and sociological awareness. This approach allows students to be better equipped to pursue their own study of music that most interests them and is most applicable to their own career aspirations.

Teaching Music (MUP440) - This course is designed to give students the experience they will need to succeed as entrepreneurial musicians running their own private teaching studio and leading their own musical ensembles. The course focuses on basic classroom, studio and ensemble pedagogy, and on helping students develop skills that will help them succeed as teachers, bandleaders, managers and performers. This course was developed to address some of the most important skills not taught in other university music programs.

  • Arranger
  • Beatmaker/Emcee/DJ
  • Director/Conductor
  • Instrumentalist
  • Live sound engineer
  • Orchestrator
  • Producer
  • Recording engineer
  • Singer
  • Songwriter
  • Walt Disney World
  • Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
  • Collins Avenue Entertainment
  • Rouse Theatre


Tiffin Faculty Member
Tiffin Faculty Member

Alexandra Manfredo

Instructor of Voice and Commercial Music

School of Arts & Sciences
Degrees & Certificates
  • B.M., Milliken University
  • M.M., University of Miami

Alexandra Manfredo

Professor Alexandra I. Manfredo has joined Tiffin University as a Instructor of Choir and Commercial Music.  She has a Master of Music in Jazz Performance from the University of Miami, and a Bachelor of Music in Commercial Music in Voice Music.  Professor Manfredo has an expertise in vocal Performance: Jazz, Pop, and Contemporary, Small and Large Vocal Jazz Ensembles, songwriting, Commercial/Contemporary music ensembles, Theory/Ear Training, and Vocal Pedagogy, and teaching experience from the University of Miami and Superior Academy of Music.

Professor Manfredo was the Bandleader and writer of the "Alex Manfredo Project" performing with artists: Gretchen Parlato, Cyrille Aimee, James Newton Howard, and Shelly Berg, as well as numerous Jazz performances and awards from both the University of Miami, and Millikin University.

Alexandra Manfredo
Instructor of Voice and Commercial Music
Alexandra Manfredo
Instructor of Voice and Commercial Music
Bradley Rees
Bradley Rees

Bradley Rees

Assistant Professor of Music

Music Department Director

School of Arts & Sciences
Degrees & Certificates
  • B.A., George Mason University
  • B.Mus., George Mason University
  • M.Mus., University of Northern Colorado

Bradley Rees

Brad Rees serves as Director of the Tiffin University Music Department, where he coordinates TU's new ProMusic degree program, and also directs the award-winning a cappella ensemble Up in the Air, conducts University Choirs, and teaches voice, music theory, and music production & engineering. A leader in contemporary a cappella and vocal jazz education for two decades, Brad has served as the Assistant Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Northern Colorado, on the faculty at Iowa's School for Music Vocations, and on the jazz faculty at Bowling Green State University.

A frequent clinician at vocal music festivals across the US and Canada, he is a regular judge for ICCA, ICHSA and show choir competitions throughout the Midwest, and has served on the faculty of Halewyn Jazz Workshop in Belgium and many other summer workshops and camps.  His ensembles have appeared across the United States and Canada, at the Salzburg Music Festival in Austria, at the United Nations in New York and Geneva, and on tour in the Republic of China, Germany, the Czech Republic, and South Africa. His choirs have also performed on several national TV broadcasts.

His own performing credits include appearances with Ben Folds, Bobby McFerrin’s Voicestra, Joe Williams, George Shearing, African gospel artist Rebecca Malope, and others. He sang with the Grammy-nominated vocal jazz quintet, The Axidentals, with Phil Mattson’s Voices, and in residence at the Smithsonian Institution.

Brad is currently completing a DMA from Boston University, received a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Northern Colorado, and holds degrees in music and public relations from George Mason University in Virginia. He has served in leadership  positions for the Ohio chapters of IAJE and ACDA, and his compositions and arrangements are available through UNC Jazz Press.

Bradley Rees
Assistant Professor of Music
Bradley Rees
Assistant Professor of Music
Nathan Santos
Nathan Santos

Nathan Santos

Instructor of Music

Director of Commercial Music - Instrumental

School of Arts & Sciences
Degrees & Certificates
  • B.M., Wilkes University
  • M.M., University of Miami

Nathan Santos

Professor Santos is the Director of Instrumental Commercial Music at Tiffin University in Ohio. Awarded the 2013-14 “Faculty Member of the Year”, he directs the touring group, DFX, which has visited areas throughout PA, Ohio, New York and North Carolina. He also has assembled the TU Big Dragon Band, directs the Concert Choir, and teaches various courses including Advanced Musicianship, Analysis of Music, Rhythm Section Methods, Pedagogy, Music Appreciation, and an interdisciplinary cultures course focused on the Canadian progressive rock band, Rush. He also teaches bass, guitar, and jazz piano, and is a primary piano accompanist for ensembles and students.

Mr. Santos is originally from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He received his B.M. from Wilkes University (1992) as a music performance major, with an emphasis in bass and voice. He received his M.M. in Studio Jazz Performance from the University of Miami, Florida (1994) where he also studied with Dr. Lucas Drew. He has previously served on the faculties of Indiana University of PA, St. Francis University, Penn State University, Main Campus and the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown.

He has actively participated in PMEA events including guest conductor for District Jazz Choirs in Districts 6, 8, and 9. He was a guest clinician in the PMEA State Conference in Hershey, PA, collaborating with respected vocal educator, Elizabeth Good, in a seminar entitled, “Cooking Up Some Vocal Jazz: Appetizers to a Full Course Meal,” and also in the State Conference in Pittsburgh, PA demonstrating the versatility of the bass.

As a 20-year former resident of Johnstown, he served as Principal Bass of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra, regularly performed with Jazz In Your Face Big Band, Acousticity, Soy Bomb, Brex, and White Noise. He served as Co-Director of Music Ministry at Westmont Presbyterian Church from 1999-2012. He has shared the stage with such notable performers as Bernadette Peters, Ben Folds, Joe Morello, Olivia Newton-John, Sherryl Milnes, Lou Christie, John Blake, Jr., George Young, Marvin Stamm, Scott Lavender, Mike Tomaro, Andy Narell, Dave Samuels, Five By Design, River City Brass, Steve Fidyk, Ed Soph, Jonathan Kreisberg, Carrie Tillis, and many others. He has been a pit musician in many musical theater productions for organizations including the Mountain Playhouse (Jennerstown, PA), and various high schools throughout Pennsylvania and Ohio. He has appeared on several recordings including Family Arts Theatre, Terminal Degree, Stanley Chepaitis, Mark Weakland and Rachel Allen, which can be found on iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby.

Nathan Santos
Instructor of Music
Nathan Santos
Instructor of Music


  • “I began my collegiate journey at Purdue University, where I was recruited out of high school. After a few years there I decided it was best if I left and went somewhere else. I didn't really explore many options outside if Tiffin. I knew the coaches here and knew that at the end of the day, even without athletics, I could see myself attending the university. I didn’t look at the size of TU as a deciding factor, I looked more at the people that were there and the quality of education and the product that was offered - and it was the best fit for me.”

    Coy Blair
    Class of 2017, MBA Graduation 2019
    Logan, Ohio

    Students in game room
  • “I was faced with the pressure of being the very first to graduate from college in my immediate family. Not coming from a wealthy or 'well off' background, college was just a very faint thought, even approaching my senior year in high school. I dealt with self-esteem issues throughout my high school career and I found it hard to see myself anywhere than where I was. My perceived challenges were rooted from me and my surrounding circumstances. Here at TU, I was able to overcome my fears and put myself in a position that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. Becoming a Dragon was the best decision I have ever made.”

    Nellene Arnett
    Class of 2017
    Toledo, Ohio

    Students in game room
  • “The main challenge I overcame in order to become a Dragon was the language barrier and the financial situation. However, Tiffin University gave the opportunity to join my passion for soccer with my dream of having an education in the U.S. As part of the soccer team, I was able to overcome my language barrier and have the best experience of my life. For that, I will always be thankful.”

    Talita Russo
    Class of 2013
    Sao Paulo, Brazil

    Students in game room
  • Ivan Santiago - Class of 2015
    "I chose TU because of its reputation for excellence, national recognition, many extracurricular opportunities and because it offers in a small, diverse college environment. I have learned the significance of academics, leadership, diversity, communication, and relationships. TU allowed me to get out of my comfort zone in order to lead and inspire. It has prepared me to make wise and imperative decisions that will benefit me in my career and my life.”

    – Ivan Santiago, Class of 2015

    Ivan Santiago - Class of 2015
  • "TU wasn’t just the place I went to get my degree. It was the place I grew up and I am forever thankful for my Dragon family. It’s always a great day to be a Dragon.”

    – Allison Marie Staunton, Class of 2016

    "TU wasn’t just the place I went to get my degree. It was the place I grew up and I am forever thankful for my Dragon family. It’s always a great day to be a Dragon.”  – Allison Marie Staunton, Class of 2016

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