DMA in Historical Performance Practice (HPP)

This program in early music (up to 1850) combines advanced study in performance, music history, and performance practices. Students should expect to spend four years in full-time study in Cleveland.

Admission Information

Admission to the program is granted to those who demonstrate the potential to be leaders in the field of early music: candidates are expected to show excellent scholarly potential in music history and performance practices, and to demonstrate a high level of performance skill. An audition is required. Please see the Graduate Application Procedures for more information. 

Graduate Application Procedures

Degree Overview

All programs are formulated to suit the needs of the individual student (based in part on a diagnostic examination taken upon entering the program) and require the consent of the HPP Advisor. A minimum of 36 hours of coursework is required (which includes the first lecture-recital and the recital – see below), together with a minimum of 18 hours of applied music, two foreign languages, and qualifying examinations (to be taken in Fall of the 4th year). After successful completion of qualifying examinations, the student will advance to candidacy and undertake the second lecture-recital (6 hours).

Coursework and Applied Music 

Coursework must include Bibliography and Research (MUHI 610), Introduction to Historical Performance Practice (MUHI 441), Medieval/Renaissance Notation (MUHI 443), Pre-Tonal Theory and Analysis (MUTH 416), and at least three seminars in Historical Performance Practice (MUHI 442). Electives may include topics courses (MUHI 450), musicology seminars (MUHI 590), or Independent Study (MUHI 601, by special arrangement). Students are also expected to attend HPP Studio Class (MUHI 698).

Applied music (including individual lessons (2 credit hours), ensembles (0 credit hours) and MUAP 500 (1 credit hour to reflect participation in multiple ensembles) will be taken every semester that the student is on campus. Applied faculty will be chosen in consultation with the student.

Ensemble Participation and Outside Engagements

All students in this program will participate in two or more of the Case Western Reserve University early music ensembles during each semester. Students are encouraged to take outside engagements that will contribute to their professional development, but any engagements that might have a significant impact on class attendance, TA/RA duties, or ensemble participation must be cleared by the HPP committee; to request an absence for an outside engagement, students should submit an HPP Absence Request form (available on the department website) to the Head of HPP as soon as possible, and at the latest by the end of the previous semester.


A jury is required in the Spring of the 1st year (MUAP 600, 0 credit hours). The program should be decided in consultation with the student's applied teacher and should consist of approximately 15 minutes of music. The jury will consist of the student's applied teacher together with at least two other HPP faculty. If the performance is unsatisfactory, the student will have the opportunity to repeat the jury the following semester. If the second attempt is also unsatisfactory, the student will not be allowed to continue in the degree program.

Lecture-Recitals and Documents 

Two juried lecture-recitals are required – MUHI 751, taken no earlier than the Spring of the 2nd year (3 credit hours), and MUHI 753, taken in the Spring of the 4th year (6 credit hours, 3 each in the Fall and Spring semesters). Each lecture-recital consists of a 45-minute performance generally preceded by a 30-45 minute research-based lecture dealing with the musical, historical and performance practice issues relevant to the chosen repertoire. (The entire lecture recital should not exceed 90 minutes.).

In the semester before registering for lecture-recital credit, the student should approach a member of the faculty to act as their advisor and should then work with that advisor on a proposal to be submitted to the HPP committee chair before November 1 (for a lecture-recital in the spring) or April 1 (for a lecture-recital in the fall). (The proposal should be submitted using the Lecture-Recital Proposal form, available on the department website.) If the proposal is approved, the HPP committee will decide (in consultation with both student and the advisor) which other faculty members are to act as jurors (at least two Musicology/HPP faculty, together with the appropriate applied faculty if possible). After securing a date acceptable to the jury and available on the Department calendar, the student will then work with the advisor to prepare a lecture draft, which will be distributed to the entire jury no less than one month before the performance. The final version of the lecture will incorporate changes mandated by the jury. In addition, the advisor, along with the applied teacher, will monitor the preparation of the recital portion, and this will be previewed for the jury approximately one month before the public presentation. Inadequate preparation may result in postponement of the lecture-recital. The successful completion of the lecture-recital will be certified by a majority of the jury. The jury will also provide written feedback to the student and the HPP advisor.

For lecture-recital 1, an accompanying document (15-25 pages, based primarily on the lecture) will be finalized after the lecture-recital performance with the further advice and ultimate approval of the advisor, and submitted by the end of the semester. For lecture-recital 2, a substantial piece of research (50-100 pages) is expected (again to be submitted by the end of the semester). The whole jury will evaluate the final document.

Students are expected to publicize the lecture-recital by all appropriate means, in addition to its listing on the Department concert calendar.


A juried recital is required by the end of the 3rd year (MUAP 700, 0 credit hours). The recital (50-60 minutes) should feature works from variety of national schools and periods, and should showcase the student's solo performing abilities: the program will be decided in consultation with the student's applied teacher and the HPP advisor, and must be approved by the HPP committee. The student should also provide appropriate program notes, to be prepared in consultation with a faculty member to be determined by the HPP committee. (The student should submit a proposal to the committee by November 1 using the Recital Proposal Form, available on the department website.) The performance will be evaluated by the applied teacher and a committee consisting of at least two other HPP faculty. If the performance is unsatisfactory, the student will have the opportunity to repeat the recital the following semester. If the second attempt is also unsatisfactory, the student will not be allowed to continue in the degree program.


Prior to the qualifying examination, students must demonstrate ability to read in two languages approved by the HPP committee as relevant to the student’s research. (These are generally drawn from German, French, Italian, and Latin, though exceptions can be made by petition.) For more details see the Graduate Handbook.

Qualifying Examination 

Qualifying examinations are taken at the beginning of the 4th year and involve four sections based on chronological periods:

  1. Up to 1450
  2. 1450 - 1650
  3. 1650 - 1800
  4. 1800 - onward

For each period, the student must a) develop a topic that falls into one of the following categories (each category may only be used once) and b) make themselves familiar with the historical performance practice issues pertaining to that period, as well as those that relate specifically to their chosen topic.

  1. a work, broadly conceived
  2. a person (composer, performer, writer)
  3. a genre
  4. an original topic (examples might include a methodology, an instrument, a place, a technology)

Students will meet with the Coordinator of Graduate Studies and the HPP advisor by the end of the fall semester of their third year in the DMA program to discuss the constitution of their examination committee, as well as to devise topics of appropriate breadth and focus. The committee of four members will consist of faculty members from the Musicology faculty. The topics chosen will be formally proposed to the faculty by the first week of the spring semester; the faculty will provide approval and/or requests for revision within one week. The topics are meant both to coordinate with and complement material students have covered in seminars. For each of the topics the student will produce a bibliography (of both historical and performance practice related literature) and a repertory list (scores and/or recordings, as applicable), due by April 1st. The student's examination committee will vet bibliographies and repertory lists by April 15th and the student will receive feedback and suggestions. Final revised bibliographies and repertory lists are due by May 1st.

The examination, consisting of four essay questions (one for each topic), will take place over the course of two days in the week preceding the first week of fall classes. The student will answer two questions each day, with three hours provided for each question. The questions, made up by the exam committee, are meant to the give students the opportunity to indicate both comprehensive and specific knowledge of the chosen topics from a number of different perspectives, including historical, analytical, methodological, etc., and to demonstrate their command of the relevant performance practice issues. Effective and persuasive responses will demonstrate numerous points of view and approaches to the given subject. Scores and/or recordings may be provided as part of the question, usually drawn from the repertory list. The examinee will be provided solely with a laptop; no additional materials or Internet access will be allowed. After distribution of the exam and answers to the examinee and the members of the committee, the Coordinator of Graduate Studies will schedule a time for the oral examination, which will last no more than two hours. The examinee may bring only a copy of the exam, their answers, and any notes meant to direct their comments in the orals.

Exam results can be: pass with honors; pass; partial pass; or fail. If the student fails the exam or only passes some sections, they may retake the pertinent sections of the exam the following semester. If all sections of the exam are not passed after the second attempt, the student will be released from the program. Students who have done satisfactory coursework will be eligible to receive the M.A. in HPP at this juncture.

The DMA program in Historical Performance Practice was reviewed in 2016 as required by the Ohio Board of Regents. The next review will take place in 2024. These program goals and objectives were revised in the summer of 2016.