Department of Music

The Department of Music prepares musicians to pursue graduate studies or careers in music by providing quality instruction in the areas of music theory, performance, music history, ensembles, keyboard, and music technology, and by requiring the completion of the University’s liberal arts curriculum. The department provides the university community and the public with performance and study opportunities as well as exposure to a variety of musical events.

Welcome to Music

Through its excellent curriculum, interaction with great professors, and many performance opportunities, Chowan's Department of Music can help you maximize your potential and attain your goals as a musician. Graduates of our program have gone on to be composers, elementary school music teachers, middle and high school band and choral directors, performers, and recording engineers. As a music major, you will be given a firm foundation in music through the study of music theory, sight singing and ear training, music history, class piano, conducting, ensembles, and applied music.

You will study in at least one of these applied music areas during your tenure:

· Brass Instrument
· Composition
· Classical Guitar
· Percussion
· Piano
· Voice
· Woodwind Instrument

Music majors have the opportunity to participate in two music-related organizations that allow you to pursue your professional interests, make connections with others in your field of study, and build your resume.  The Collegiate Music Educators National Conference (CMENC) is the student division of the National Association for Music Education. Through monthly meetings and attendance at the North Carolina Music Educators Association Annual In-Service Conference, you will gain exposure to current trends and methodology in music education. 


Our music education curriculum is accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and approved by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI). Chowan University is an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), which means our program meets rigorous national standards in content and delivery.


In addition to weekly private instruction, music students have the opportunity to choose from a variety of ensembles.

  • Chowan Singers
  • Chowan Winds
  • Community Chorus
  • Jazz Band
  • Hawks Band
  • Chamber Ensembles

Students from other majors across campus are welcome to participate in several of our ensembles. Contact Marion Foster at for more information.

Calendar of Events

Audition Information

Scholarships are available to students for all areas of music performance. A student may audition in more than one performance medium. Auditions are held in Briley Recital Hall (in Daniel Hall - see campus map) with no sound amplification. Music chosen for audition should be of an acceptable level of difficulty.

  • Singers should prepare two selections in different styles from memory. These should be sung with live piano accompaniment. We will provide an accompanist.
  • Instrumentalists should prepare one piece of appropriate solo literature.
  • Instrumentalists should be prepared to play major and minor scales.
  • Students auditioning in piano and/or organ should be prepared to play two selections representing different style periods.
  • Piano and organ students should be prepared to play selected major and minor scales, hands together a minimum of two octaves.
  • You will be asked to sight-read from a piece of music for your performance medium.
  • You will be asked to match pitches in order to assess your tonal memory skills.

All students must be accepted for admission to Chowan University prior to the music audition. The music audition must be performed before enrollment in music coursework.


Auditions may also be scheduled in conjunction with a personal visit at other times at the discretion of the Department of Music and the Admissions Office. Register online for your music audition or contact 252-398-6236.  Auditions are typically held on Admissions event dates. 


Christopher Cook, DM
Associate Professor of Music
Mary Hellmann, DMA
Chair, Professor of Music
Benjamin Thorburn, PhD
Associate Professor of Music

Adjunct Faculty

Suzanne Daniel, MM
Christopher Espy, DMA
Adjunct Professor of Music, Brass
Dejuan Lee, BA
Music Department Staff Pianist
H. Denise White, MM
High Brass
Ron Johnson, MM
Eldon Sulley, MM
Jordan Cartrette, BM, MM, 2023