Daytime Degree Programs: Department of Music

Department of Music

The University of Mount Olive Music Department is committed to the education and enrichment of its students, and the community at large, through the pursuit of academic excellence, nurturing of creativity, and development of musical proficiency.

Since its founding, University of Mount Olive has been known for the high quality of its music performances, and our alumni perform and teach throughout the United States.

Bachelor Degrees Offered

Bachelor of Science in Music Performance with concentrations in Instrumental, Vocal, Piano and Sacred Music:

Performance:  Instrumental, Vocal or Piano

The performance major is designed to teach students proper technique while performing a wide range of repertoire in preparation for future career goals.  Students in this major will be required to audition and participate in one of the musical performance groups.

Sacred Music

The Sacred Music Major is a program that focuses on the history, theory, composition, and performance of music for religious or sacred purposes.

Bachelor of Science in Music Education

At University of Mount Olive, student-musicians who plan to enter the teaching field graduate with full NC licensure and student-teaching experience.  While still taking a “core” of music theory and history classes, participating in ensembles, and taking lessons for their vocal or instrumental concentration, these students are both performers and future educators.  Graduates will have taken brass, strings, percussion, and woodwinds methods, curriculum design, as well as general education practicum topics.


Students with aptitude in music but who are pursuing another field of study for their major often minor in music. The music minor equips students with the basics in applied skills, theory, and history. Students minoring in music may become part-time music directors in churches, performers, or teachers in schools where the music teacher serves also in another teaching capacity.

Opportunities Within the Department of Music

Performance Groups

Concert Choir

The University of Mount Olive concert choir is made up of approximately 40 members, all of whom have auditioned and receive a $1000 yearly scholarship for membership.  The choir performs a variety of repertoire, from Renaissance and classical works to spirituals and choral arrangements from the “great American songbook.”  Majoring in music is not a requirement.

Click the following YouTube links to enjoy performances from the Concert Choir.

Be Thou My Vision


Concert Band

The MOC Concert Band provides instrumental music for all occasions. Membership is to all University of Mount Olive students by audition. Students participating in the Concert Band receive a $1000 scholarship per year. Members are expected to be conscientious in private instrumental practice, and to maintain a good GPA.


Chamber Choir

The college’s chamber choir, whose dozen members are also in the concert choir, is an exclusive ensemble for some of the most talented singers on campus.  This choir performs at various functions across the state, presenting a wide range of repertoire, both a capella and accompanied.  Each member receives a $2750 yearly scholarship, in addition to their concert choir scholarship.


Click the following YouTube links to enjoy performances from the Chamber Choir.

In this Very Room



Free Spirit

Free Spirit is a mixed vocal ensemble of 12 students that provides Christian music for church services, revivals, and community events.  Founded by Dr. Alan Armstrong, professor of music, in 1996, Free Spirit has a reputation throughout North Carolina for providing a quality mix of Contemporary, Gospel, Southern Gospel, and a cappella Christian music.  Free Spirit travels extensively throughout Eastern North Carolina for Sunday evening worship services in churches of all denominations, and has been the main musical event for many area Revivals, Gospel-sings, Youth Services, and Community Clubs.  Free Spirit has performed numerous times at the North Carolina Pickle Festival, and has appeared at the Foster Parents Association Picnic, the Tri-County Co-Op Convention, the Free-Will Baptist Convention, and has sung with world-famous first family of Gospel Music, the Talley Trio.  Free Spirit has also conducted several week-long tours throughout the Southeastern United States.

Free Spirit members are provided scholarships in the amount of $2750 for their service to the ensemble.  Because it is a ministry-based organizations, all members are expected to be Christ-serving and conduct lives becoming a servant of God.  Membership is by audition.  For specific requirements please contact Dr. Alan Armstrong at, or call 919-658-7188

Click the following YouTube links to enjoy performances from Free Spirit.

Oh, What a Reason




Headed by Dr. William Ford, the instrumental program encompasses the symphonic band, chamber ensemble, jazz band, and applied lessons on all instruments.  After a successful audition, members of the symphonic band are awarded a $1000 yearly scholarship.  A separate audition determines eligibility for the elite ensembles, such as the chamber ensemble or the jazz band.  These come with an additional $2750 scholarship.  Being a music major is not a requirement for participation in any of the instrumental groups.  For more information, contact Dr. Ford at


Audition Dates and Requirements

Students desiring to be members of any performing ensemble must attend one Audition Day, if possible, or arrange for an audition day and time mutually agreed upon by the ensemble director and the prospective student. Audition dates are scheduled for Saturday, February 21 and Saturday, March 21 from 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon.  Students may audition for bands, choirs, and/or to be a music major or minor.  Students needing an accompanist should supply their own, or if that is not possible, bring sheet music for our accompanist. Accompaniment CDs or tapes are permissible if they are of high quality and do not have vocals. Under no circumstances will vocalists be allowed to audition a cappella. Please contact Dr. Bill Ford to reserve a time (

Additional audition requirements differ from ensemble to ensemble, as follows:

MOC Concert Choir

• Two contrasting solos

• Scales and exercises

• Sight-reading

MOC Chamber Choir

• Two contrasting solos

• Scales and exercises

• Sight-reading

Free Spirit

• Two contrasting church solos accompanied by track

• Scales and exercises

• Sight-reading

• A letter of recommendation from the student’s pastor or youth pastor

• A letter of application that gives the student’s testimony and philosophy of church music ministry

All instrumental ensembles

• A solo selection from state contest or festival literature. In addition, percussionists play snare drum rudiments.

• Band: scales of concert pitch C-F-Bb-Eb-Ab; Strings: C-G-D-A-E

• Sight-reading


William Ford – Department Chair, Instrumental Music, Music Education
William Ford, a native of Minnesota, holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Minnesota, Master of Music Education and Doctorate of Music in Saxophone from the University of Iowa.  He joined the faculty of University of Mount Olive in 2011 and is currently the Chair of the music department and director of instrumental music. Dr. Ford has worked twenty years in music education, directing high school and college concert and jazz bands, and ensembles.  In addition he worked eight years as a military bandsmen. Ford conducted community bands in Minnesota and Iowa for twelve years, performed with local Big Band groups and as well as his own saxophone quartet and traveled to China as member of the University of Minnesota Wind Ensemble. Dr. Ford has been a frequent performer with Thursday Musical (Minnesota Concert Series) and state and national conferences, including NASA (North American Saxophone Association.) as well as community churches and musical organizations.

Alan Armstrong - Music Theory, Opera Literature, and Piano Performance, director: "Free Spirit"
Dr. Alan Armstrong received his Ph.D in Music History from The Ohio State University. He also holds a B.Mus.Ed from there, and an M.M. in piano performance from Bradley University. Dr. Armstrong is also a cellist, and serves as principal cellist of the Wilson Symphony Orchestra. In addition, he is a Grade II bagpiper, enjoying success as a competitor with the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association, and a member of the Wake and District Pipes and Drums of Raleigh, NC. (See Dr. Armstrong is also a scholar known for his work in French Grand Opera, notably the work of composer Giacomo Meyerbeer. Recently, however, Dr. Armstrong has been researching the life and works of Pipe Major John Grant, a piping composer and author who lived in Edinburgh, Scotland throughout the first half of the 20th century. Dr. Armstrong is also the founder and director of "Free Spirit," a contemporary Christian ensemble that represents MOC at various functions throughout the eastern US.

Carl Ashley - Diction for Singers, Private Voice Lessons, Student Teaching Internships, Concert Choir, Chamber Choir
Dr. Carl P. Ashley holds degrees from the University of Florida, Westminster Choir College, and the University of Miami in music education, church music, and conducting.  He directs the Concert and Chamber Choirs at University of Mount Olive.  His choirs have won or placed in a number of national choral festivals and have performed at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall.  He is in demand as a conductor, composer, clinician, and adjudicator in the United States and abroad.    He has served as a church musician for nearly thirty years, including two full-time appointments in Southern Baptist and United Methodist congregations.  Dr. Ashley has been seen on the opera stage with the Palm Beach Opera, the University of Miami Opera Theatre, the Florida Arts Celebration, and the Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds in the United States and Italy.  Dr. Ashley is an award-winning composer with music published by National Music, Colla Voce, and Walton.  He most recently completed a work for women's choir and orchestra, which was premiered in Beijing, China.  He has appeared as a chorus member and baritone soloist on several recording labels, including Phillips and SoundByte.

David Key - Music Appreciation
Dr. David Key, M. Mus., teaches online and seated music appreciation courses at UMO. At the college level, he has also taught music fundamentals, music theory, and saxophone, and is the author of “The Creation and Re-Creation of Music”, published by Prentice Hall. As a saxophonist, Mr. Key has performed throughout New England as a soloist, and with The Rhode Island Saxophone Quartet, The Joe Parillo Jazz Ensemble, and Starling, a saxophone/cello duo performing improvised chamber music. He performed and recorded with the Rhode Island Saxophone Quartet in South Korea. Mr. Key has numerous CDs of his performances of original works for wooden flutes and frame drums.

Ed Stephenson - Guitar
Born in Toronto, Raleigh-based guitarist and Liscio recording artist, Ed (Stefanyshyn) Stephenson’s virtuosity extends throughout the Spanish and Nuevo Flamenco genres. In addition to performing throughout North America as a soloist and with his Nuevo Flamenco ensemble, the Paco Band, Stephenson has invested locally through performances with The North Carolina Symphony, The North Carolina Theater, The North Carolina Bach Festival, and The North Carolina Guitar Quartet. His extensive repertoire, ranging from classical to contemporary, assumes necessary flexibility, therefore accommodating any event. 

Irene S. Patten - Piano
Irene S. Patten retired after 29 years as Associated Professor of Music at UMO in 2002. As full time faculty she served as Chairman of the Music  Department and taught Music Theory 1 and 11, Applied Piano, Music Methods and Materials, supervised interns in Music Education.  She also directed the Mount Olive College Singers, UMO Concert Choir, and the Chapel Choir.  After retirement, Irene has served as a Music-Consultant for Admissions and Recruitment of Music Students for UMO and currently serves as an adjunct piano teacher.