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Daytime Degree Programs: Department of Music

Department of Music

The University of Mount Olive Department of Music 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 the 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.

Unlike some majors, the Music Major requires incoming students to already have some ability in their major applied concentration area upon entering the University.  In addition, musicians must be literate in music reading and knowledgeable in other aspects of music besides performing; a fundamental understanding of notational principles, dynamics, tempi, form, texture, and genres, among other topics, is important.  Having said that, the music faculty is aware that not all students enter their first semester with all the tools they need to be a successful music major.  Therefore, we require all incoming freshmen to take a Music Theory Placement Exam.  Students who pass this exam begin taking Music Theory I (MUS 120) the first semester.  Students who do not pass the placement exam take Introduction to Music Theory (MUS 119). 

What makes the University of Mount Olive different?

  • Nearly all students receive scholarships, even non-majors
  • Study privately with a working, accomplished, professional musician-not a graduate student
  • No additional fees for private lessons
  • Develop close, personal relationships with students and faculty in an environment with defining Christian values

Department of Music Additional Information

Bachelor Degrees Offered

The Department of Music offers the Bachelor of Science in Music and Music Education.  The B.S. in Music has concentrations in performance (emphases: vocal or instrumental) and Sacred Music.

Bachelor of Science in Performance: Vocal or Instrumental

For students seeking a future as a professional performer on the concert stage or in the recording studio or who plan to further their education as a performance major on the Masters level.  Students select, with approval of the faculty, a major performance area in voice, piano, organ, guitar, or any of the recognized orchestral or band instruments.  In order to select Performance as a concentration, it is expected that the student will already have had several years of quality instruction on the chosen instrument and proficiency in reading music.

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 North Carolina 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 choose to 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 also serves in another teaching capacity.

Major and minor course requirements may be viewed and printed at the following links: Degrees, Minors & Certificates


  • Charles and Margenette A. Hinnant Music Scholarship

    • Up to $3,000 renewable annually up to four years
    • Criteria:
      1. Demonstrate outstanding talent, academic ability, and good character
      2. Audition
      3. Letter of recommendation
      4. Maintain a 3.0 GPA in music courses overall
  • Warren Vocal Scholarship

    • $500 per year
      • Criteria:
        • Must be a full-time student
        • Maintain a 2.5 GPA in music courses overall
  • McRae Trumpet Scholarship

    • $500 per year
    • Criteria:
      • Must be a full-time student
      • Maintain a 2.5 GPA in music courses overall
  • Warren Instrumental Scholarship

    • $200 per year
    • Criteria:
      • Must be a full-time student
      • Maintain a 2.5 GPA in music courses overall

Opportunities Within the Department of Music

Performance Groups

Concert Band

The UMO Concert Band, under the direction of Dr. William Ford, provides instrumental music for all occasions. Membership is open to all University of Mount Olive students by audition. Students participating in the Concert Band receive up to a $1,000 annual scholarship. Members are expected to be conscientious in private instrumental practice, and maintain an excellent GPA. To obtain specific requirements for Symphonic Band, please contact Dr. William Ford at or call (919) 658-7818.

Concert Choir

The UMO Concert Choir, conducted by Dr. Carl Ashley, is comprised of approximately forty members, all of whom have auditioned and receive up to $1,000  in annual scholarship.  The Choir performs a variety of repertoire, from Renaissance and classical works to spirituals and choral arrangements from the "Great American Songbook." Majoring or minoring in music is not a requirement. To obtain specific requirements for Concert Choir and/or Chamber Choir, please contact Dr. Carl Ashley at or call (919) 299 – 4811.


Chamber Choir

The select UMO Chamber Choir, whose members are also in the Concert Choir, is an exclusive ensemble for some of the most talented singers on campus.  This ensemble, directed by Dr. Carl Ashley, performs at various functions across the state, presenting a wide range of repertoire, both a cappella and accompanied.  Each member receives up to $2,750 annual scholarship, in addition to the Concert Choir scholarship.

To obtain specific requirements for Concert Choir and/or Chamber Choir, please contact Dr. Carl Ashley at or call (919) 299-4811.


Free Spirit

Free Spirit is a mixed vocal ensemble of twelve 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 organizations.  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, and the Free Will Baptist Convention, and has sung with world-famous first family of Gospel music, the Talley Trio.  Free Spirit has conducted several week-long tours throughout the Southeastern United States.

Free Spirit members are provided annual scholarships in the amount of $2,750 for their service to the ensemble.  Because it is a ministry-based organization, all members are expected to be actively serving and growing in Christ.  Membership is by audition.  For specific requirements please contact Dr. Alan Armstrong at, or call (919) 658-7188.


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 up to a $1000 yearly scholarship.  A separate audition determines eligibility for the elite ensembles, such as the Chamber Ensemble or the Jazz Band.  Jazz Band comes with up to 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 or call (919) 658-7818.

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 from 9 am - noon Saturday, February 17, 2018 and Saturday, March 17, 2018. For more information, please send an email to or call (919) 658-7166.  Students may audition for bands, choirs, and/or to be a music major or minor. Students needing an accompanist should supply their own.  If this is not possible, please bring sheet music for our accompanist, and/or email a PDF attachment of the score/section to Accompaniment CDs or tapes are permissible if they are of high quality and do not have vocals.

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

Concert Choir

  • First verse of "My Country, 'Tis of Thee"
    • Optional: a song of your choosing that best represents your abilities
  • Scales and exercises
  • Sight-reading
  • Maintain a GPA of 2.5 or higher

Chamber Choir

  • First verse of "My Country, 'Tis of Thee"
    • Optional: a song of your choosing that best represents your abilities
  • Scales and exercises
  • Sight-reading
  • Maintain a GPA of 2.5 or higher

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


W. Franklin Gross, D.M.A (

Dr. Franklin Gross teaches Music Theory, Ear Training and Piano at the University of Mount Olive.  He holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Composition from Florida State University, and both a Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition from the University of Texas at Austin. Performance and composition often meet at the piano for Dr. Gross, who specializes in arrangements of spiritual and popular music. As soloist and collaborator, he has performed at national conventions for the National Federation of Music Clubs and the College Band Directors National Association. In 2007, the Florida State Music Teachers Association named him, Florida Young Artist. Dr. Gross' performance of music by Pulitzer Prize winner, John Adams, has aired and re-aired on American Public Media's "Performance Today." Gross has presented papers for the National Association of African American Studies and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. He has taught at the collegiate level in central Texas and middle Georgia. In 2013, he earned an award for Faculty Excellence in Service, and in 2014 joined the faculty at the University of Mount Olive. Dr. Gross is a member of regional and national organizations promoting scholarship in music theory and music education.  Beyond the classroom, he is a frequent performer in music events on the UMO campus and in the region.


William Ford, D.M.A. (

Dr. William “Bill” Ford began his music career as a member of the United States Army Band. He served first in the 81st Army Band in Chicago and later in the 3rd Infantry Division Band in Wurtzburg, Germany.  Dr. Ford toured China in 1980 as a member of the University of Minnesota Wind Ensemble.  He has taught all grade levels of instrumental and general music while administrating music programs for eight years.  Dr. Ford taught music education and woodwind courses at the University of Iowa and Augustana College at Rock Island, Illinois, as well as directed ensembles at Bemidji State University in Minnesota and Mount Mercy College in Iowa while advancing his education. Dr. Ford most recently served as the Director of the Instrumental Program at Concordia University - St. Paul. Before Concordia, Dr. Ford was Director of the Instrumental Program at Elizabeth City State University, NC. Dr. Ford is an active clinician and adjudicator.  He holds a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Minnesota, a Masters in Music Education from the University of Iowa, and a Doctorate in Saxophone Performance from the University of Iowa. Dr. Ford has performed with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, the Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra, the Quad City Symphony Orchestra (IA), the Center of New Music (IA), Mount Mercy College (IA), and Faculty Recitals at Elizabeth City State University (NC).

Alan Armstrong, Ph. D. (

Dr. Armstrong received his Ph.D. in Music History from The Ohio State University, where he also completed the B.Mus.Ed.  In addition, he holds a M.M. in Piano Performance from Bradley University.  Dr. Armstrong also serves as principal cellist of the Wilson Symphony Orchestra, and is a Grade II bagpiper, recognized by the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association, and has successfully competed in Scottish games throughout the eastern United States.  Dr. Armstrong is the director of “Free Spirit,” which he formed in 1996.

Carl Ashley, D.M.A. (

Dr. Carl Ashley holds degrees from the University of Florida, Westminster Choir College, and the University of Miami. His choruses have consistently received the highest ratings at district and state festivals, have won or placed in numerous national choral festivals, and have performed at Carnegie Hall twice.  He is in demand as a conductor, composer/arranger, clinician, and adjudicator and has conducted choirs at all levels.  He has performed on stages in the United States and Europe as a conductor and as an opera and choral vocalist and has held teaching appointments at Westminster Choir College, Palm Beach Atlantic University, Lynn University, and the University of Miami.  He has served as a church musician for nearly 30 years, including two full-time appointments.  Dr. Ashley is an active, award-winning composer, and his music is published by National Music Publishers, Colla Voce Music, and Walton Music. He regularly receives choral/vocal commissions for works performed in the United States and abroad.


Adjunct Faculty

Marie Ashley, M.M., Voice (
Matthew Barbee, M.M., Music Appreciation (
Alice Campbell, M.M., Accompanist and Vocal Coach
David Key, M.M., Music Appreciation (
Rue Lee-Holmes, Ph.D., Music Education (
Quintin Mallette, M.M., Percussion (
Irene S. Patten, M.M., Piano (
Ed Stephenson, M.M. Guitar (
Alex Williams, M.M., Brass (