Excellence is the goal for music students in the Alabama School of the Arts. Extensive opportunities for performance allow students to put classroom lessons into practice before audiences of thousands through the Roger Breland Center for Performing Arts.
The B.A. or B.S. in Music with Teacher Certification is designed for students pursuing careers as music educators at the elementary/secondary levels. Concentration options in choral or instrumental music, pedagogical and practical experiences in teaching music are provided. These degrees also prepare you to pursue your studies at a graduate level.
- Learn from faculty who are professional musicians that will mentor
you and help provide connections within the music industry upon
- Small classes allow for interaction with faculty and personalized
- Over 20 ensembles perform at over 400 appearances each year,
with audiences numbering in the thousands.
- You will have opportunities to perform locally, regionally, nationally
- Study and record at 8Eighty Records professional recording studio
and music publishing label on campus.
- As an “All-Steinway School”, you will study on Steinway pianos with an
internationally recognized Steinway Artist.
- Bachelor of Arts in Music with Teacher Certification
Meet Our Faculty
Meet Our Staff
Each year the Center for Performing Arts provides a limited number of music scholarships to students demonstrating considerable achievement and tremendous potential for further development in performance. These scholarships are given on the basis of Scholarship Auditions. If you would like to schedule an appointment to audition, or find out more details about the auditioning process, please visit here or call 251.442.2320 or 1.800.WIN RAMS extension 2320.
Meet our Faculty
Dr. Roger Breland
Executive Director, Roger Breland Center for Performing Arts
Holding the Bachelor of Music Education from Troy University in Troy, AL and Doctor of Humanities from Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA, Dr. Breland is known worldwide for raising up a generation of successful leaders in the music industry and churches around the world. During his 31 years as the founder and director of the internationally known contemporary Christian ensemble TRUTH, Dr. Breland presented 10,000 concerts in 26 nations, recorded 61 albums, and trained 400+ musicians. His dedication to make a difference in the Christian music industry helped to launch the careers of many well-known Christian artists. Avalon, Russ Lee, 4Him, Natalie Grant, and Anthony Evans are just a few examples of his impact on the Christian music industry that earned Dr. Breland election to the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
Today, the School of Music and School of Worship Leadership are preparing the next generation of Christian leaders in all genres of music, from classical to contemporary. Through his worldwide contacts, Dr. Breland is opening doors for UM graduates to honor God with excellence. “Many Sounds, One Song” is the motto of this outstanding program with over 20 diverse performing ensembles.
Currently, Dr. Breland travels with The Voices of Mobile. They present over 140 concerts each year and have been featured at The White House, The Pentagon, Brooklyn Tabernacle Church, Carnegie Hall, Notre Dame Cathedral, and numerous national and religious conventions. They have toured Germany, France, Jordan, Israel, the Cayman Islands, Philippines and China. VOICES is regularly seen on national television programs such as IN TOUCH with Dr. Charles Stanley or REFRESH with Dr. Michael Catt.
“There’s really only one song to sing, and that is the song that will honor God. We want to do that with excellence.”
– Roger Breland
Dr. Alan W. Miller
Dean, Alabama School of the Arts
B.S., University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
M.M.E., Samford University
Ph.D., Florida State University
Dr. Al Miller’s eclectic educational, training, and performance experience brings a practical approach to music education. He received a Bachelor of Science in music education from The University of Tennessee in Chattanooga; a Master of Music in music Eeducation from Samford University in Birmingham, AL; and a Ph.D in music education from Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL.
As an educator, he has served in leadership and director of choral and vocal positions at Florida Junior College, Northwest Whitfield High School, Samford University, Florida State University, Limestone College. As a licensed minister, he has served in churches across the country from Florida, South Carolina, Illinois, Tennessee and Alabama. His positions in the ministry have ranged from minister of music, director of Christian education, vocal instructor, youth director, and director of Church Orchestra and College Ensemble.
He founded and directed vocal groups in churches, high schools, colleges, and universities and in the professional field for more than 35 years. The groups with which he has performed and those he founded/directed have presented concerts throughout the Far East, Europe, the Caribbean and the United States of America including several White House appearances. The Ed Brothers, Glen Draper Singers, Samford Singers, FSU Jazz/Pop Vocal Ensemble, Limestone TONZ, Voices of Mobile, RAMTONZ, and Deliverance are just a few of the groups he has traveled around the world with as a founder, director, writer, or producer.
He has received several awards ranging from the National Religious Broadcasters convention in music, video, and audio production, an award for Best overall Christmas Program, and the People’s Choice Award. His heritage in both educational and church atmospheres brings a unique complement to the faculty of the Center for Performing Arts.
Mr. Bruce Earnest
Associate Dean, Alabama School of the Arts
Producer, Performing Arts Series
Producing Artistic Director, International Performing Arts Institute
B.A., Westfield State University, M.M., University of Miami
Doctoral Studies, University of Southern Mississippi
As an internationally recognized singer-actor, Mr. Bruce Earnest has performed in over 60 operatic and musical theatre roles in Europe and the United States. In addition to his work at University of Mobile, he is and producing artistic director of the International Performing Arts Institute, which has branches in Kiefersfelden, Germany; Vienna, Austria; Bangkok. Thailand and New York City. He has students working in major opera and musical theatre productions in the UK, Europe, on Broadway and in National tours throughout the United States. He has served as casting/musical consultant for Stage Entertainment International and past European productions of AIDA by Elton John, Mama Mia, Wicked and Phantom of the Opera.
Mr. Earnest earned his Bachelor of Arts in music administration from Westfield State University, a Master of Music in opera from the University of Miami, and is pursuing doctoral studies at University of Southern Mississippi.
He has performed with the Theater am Gaertnerplatz, Stadt Theater Passau, Opera Roanoke, The Berkshire Opera, Dayton Opera, Orlando Opera, Florida Grand Opera, The Wiener Volksoper, Virginia Opera, Mobile Opera, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Berkshire Theatre Festival, The Springfield Symphony, the South Dakota Symphony, the Hamburg Musical Orchestra and the Orlando Philharmonic and off-Broadway. Mr. Earnest has produced or directed more than 70 musicals and operas including: Side by Side by Sondheim, Big River, Little Shop of Horrors, Lend Me A Tenor, My Way, Tin Types, Into The Woods, The Fantastiks, Baby, Oklahoma, Chicago, Camelot, Phantom of The Opera, The Saint of Bleeker Street, La Rondine, Don Pasquale, Tosca and The Impresario. Earnest has conducted master-classes and workshops on singing and acting interpretation in the United States and Europe.
Previously, Mr. Earnest was director and associate professor of musical theatre at the University of South Dakota, associate professor of voice at Folkwang Universität, Essen, Germany; guest professor of voice at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Munich, Germany, and assistant professor and coordinator of musical theatre at the University of Central Florida. He is the co-author of “A Beginning Actor’s Companion,” published by Kendall Hunt.
He serves as pastor of music at Government Street Baptist Church in Mobile, AL.
Mr. Kenn Hughes
Associate Professor of Music
Director, Instrumental Studies
B.S., University of Oklahoma
M.M.E., Wichita State University
An accomplished musician and musical director, Mr. Kenn Hughes has traveled the world as a trombonist, including touring with Casting Crowns, Natalie Grant, Dever & The Mile High Orchestra, and more. A freelance arranger and orchestrator, Hughes has published works with Word Music, LifeWay and Gaylord Entertainment. He is a sought-after clinician, artist, adjudicator and guest conductor. Kenn is actively involved in world missions as Ministry Director for Global Missions Project.
He has brought dynamic choreography and drama to RamCorps, a touring, high-powered, precision brass and percussion performance team that has performed internationally, including at the Sochi Olympics in Russia, aboard cruise ships with Christian recording artists, and on music mission trips. Under his direction, the University of Mobile Jazz Band has garnered much acclaim in recent years for their dynamic concerts featuring classic big band standards as well as innovative, contemporary arrangements.
He served as musical director for eight years with the horn-driven group, Denver & The Mile High Orchestra, and the band finished third in a national “battle of the bands” reality show on the Fox television network. The band also received a Dove Award for their album, “Groovy.” His work as a trombonist was also featured on an album with Bart Millard that received a Grammy nomination.
He has toured with Casting Crowns, Natalie Grant, Avalon, Jaci Velasquez, Carman, TRUTH, Denver & The Mile High Orchestra, Salvador and Michael English. Additional performances with artists include Ralph Carmichael, Bernard Harris, Mandisa, Phil Keagy, Mike Tait, Tommy Sims, Israel Houghton, Amy Grant, Johnny Lang, Bob Hope, Rosemary Clooney, Debby Boone, Dino and Russ Lee. He was also the principal trombonist with the Imperial Symphony Orchestra in Florida.
He has numerous recordings to his credit. Along with Denver & the Mile Orchestra’s nine CDs including the Dove Award-winning Groovy, Hughes has recorded with Bart Millard of Mercy Me on the Grammy-nominated album Hymned Again, with Ron Kenoly on the Integrity recording Sing Out, Camp Kirkland on Gloryland Band 5 and Toby Mac’s City on Its Knees.
Mr. Hughes holds a master’s degree in music education from The Wichita State University and a bachelor’s degree in music education from The University of Oklahoma.
Dr. Patrick Jacobs
Professor of Music
Director, Opera and Vocal Studies
Dr. Patrick Jacobs is a two-time Metropolitan Opera regional finalist and winner of the Orpheus National Vocal Competition. Noted for his “strong, bright voice,” Dr. Jacobs has performed principal roles with opera companies throughout the United States, including New Orleans Opera, Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh, Fresno Grand Opera, and many others.
Born in Louisiana, Dr. Jacobs attended Loyola University in New Orleans, and The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music before he finished his education in New York at SUNY Stony Brook. He made his debut as a soloist at Carnegie Hall in a program of sacred music in 2009, and has performed as a soloist in concerts with companies including: the Berkshire Choral Festival, Tulsa Oratorio Chorus, Northwest Florida Symphony, and Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra.
Professional engagements for the 2016-2017 season include artistic/stage director for Sweeney Todd with Joe Jefferson Players, singing George Benton in Dead Man Walking with Pensacola Opera, as well as solos in Handel’s Messiah with Choral Society of Pensacola and a concert of contemporary art song with Crescent City Chamber Artists in New Orleans.
As a judge and clinician, Dr. Jacobs has worked with the Alabama District VII Solo & Small Ensemble Festival, the Pensacola Music Teachers Association’s Sonata competition, National Association of Teachers of Singing Alabama state auditions, and has served as a guest clinician at the Florida Theater Conference, and with several high schools in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
He also serves as the classic worship leader / choir director at Saraland United Methodist Church.
Dr. Kadisha Onalbayeva
Associate Professor of Music
Dr. Kadisha Onalbayeva is the first pianist from Kazakhstan to be named a Steinway Artist. She earned two Master of Music degrees in both composition and piano performance at the University of New Orleans, then received her Doctor of Musical Arts in piano performance at Louisiana State University. She began her musical training at the age of five and graduated from the Jubanov School for the Gifted and Talented and the Kurmangazy National Conservatory of Music. Her awards include the Soviet Union’s New Talent competition, the Republic of Kazakhstan President’s Award for Young Artists and Chevron’s Award for Talented Students in piano and composition. She also won various prizes in national and Central Asia piano competitions.
Dr. Onalbayeva has performed in numerous concerts as a recitalist, chamber musician, orchestral soloist and has been an active participant as composer, clinician, adjudicator, and organizer on various concerts, festivals, and musical events throughout Central Asia, Austria, Bahamas, Costa Rica, England, Kazakhstan, Russia, U.S.A. and Uzbekistan. She is founder and president of the Gulf Coast Steinway Society. A documentary was recently filmed on her life and musical career by the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Kazakhstan titled Independent National’s Heritage.
Dr. Onalbayeva teaches Piano, Composition, Form-Analysis, Counterpoint, Piano Literature and Online Music Appreciation.
“What I really like is the close connection with students. They are all so different, but they have one thing that connect them – a belief in God. Music is part of that connection to God, the Creator.”
– Dr. Kadisha Onalbayeva
Dr. Charlotte Hester
Associate Professor of Music
Director, Music Education
As director of music education, Dr. Charlotte Hester focuses on developing high musicianship skills and a broad musical knowledge base in her students as they prepare to become future music educators. She teaches Elementary and Secondary Methods courses, Piano, and Music History.
Dr. Hester earned her undergraduate degree in piano performance from the University of Montevallo, Master of Music from the University of Mississippi and her doctorate in music education from the University of Mississippi. She has taught general music and choral music to students of all ages and traveled as director or accompanist with choral groups throughout the U.S. and to Russia and Spain. She joined the University of Mobile faculty in 2015.
“Being a music teacher is such a privilege. Not only can we share the joy of music with our students, but we get to instill musical understandings that they can draw upon for a lifetime. That is an awesome opportunity.”
– Charlotte Hester
Dr. Kathryn Hedlund
Assistant Professor of Music
A soprano with extensive performance experience, Dr. Kathryn Hedlund has served as associate director of Opéra Louisiane, apprenticed at the Des Moines Metro Opera, and was chosen as a Gulf Coast Regional Finalist at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions from 2006 through 2008. The native of Big Rapids, Michigan, joined the University of Mobile faculty in 2012. She earned a Bachelor of Music from the University of Michigan, and Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts from Louisiana State University.
She has sung the role of La Ciesca in Mobile Opera’s Gianni Schicchi, as well as soloing with the Eastern Shore Choral Society, the Mobile Opera Winter Gala, Mozart’s Requiem with Florence Camerata, and a Valentine’s Day concert for Mississippi Opera with tenor Robert Grayson. Favorite performances include Marguerite in Gounod’s Faust with Opéra Louisiane, the soprano solo in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra, the role of Juliette in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette with LSU Opera, and the soprano solo in the Brahms Requiem with the Memphis Symphony under the baton of Dr. Kenneth Fulton. She was the soprano soloist in the Fauré Requiem and Handel’s Messiah with Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, and sang the roles of Pamina in The Magic Flute and The Sandman in Hansel and Gretel with Opéra Louisiane.
“An excellent vocal technique allows for not only efficient and healthy singing, but allows the singer to communicate to their listeners, ultimately allowing God to speak through us.”
– Kathryn Hedlund
Mrs. Rebecca Fox
Associate Professor of Music
Director, Piano Studies
Mrs. Becky Fox has taught at University of Mobile for over 37 years, teaching Applied Piano, Music Appreciation, Fundamentals of Music Theory, Music Theory, Form & Analysis, Methods and Materials for Music Education and Music History. She studied at William Carey University where she received Bachelor of Music and Master of Music in piano performance and music education, followed by doctoral studies in piano performance.
Past awards include the William Megginson Teaching Award – 2013-2014, Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers and in Religion, winner in Regional and State Collegiate Piano Competitions as well as being an adjudicator for piano competitions in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi.
Mrs. Fox is a seasoned musician performing in concertos, duo recitals and a sacred piano soloist for over 40 years. She is a member of Mobile Piano Ensemble, Alpha Chi Delta Omicron, Mobile Music Teachers, and Alabama Music Teachers.
Mr. Christopher Lovely
Assistant Professor of Music
Christopher Lovely has been on the faculty of University of Mobile since 2008 and currently teaches Music Theory, Applied Piano, and Vocal Coaching. He holds the AA in business from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, BM in church music from William Carey College, and master of music in piano accompanying from The University of Southern Mississippi. He is completing his DMA in conducting from The University of Southern Mississippi.
He served as principal coach on the faculty of the International Performing Arts Institute summer program in Kiefersfelden, Germany, and has performed at Carnegie Hall, in Alaska with Voices of Mobile, and on the island of Nevis in the West Indies.
Mr. Lovely has held various church music leadership positions since 1995, and has served on the staff of Shiloh Baptist Church since August 2014. He has worked as keyboardist and assistant musical director in various UM Performing Arts Series operatic and musical theatre events. He has also served as organist in UM’s Christmas Spectacular and Saviour.
“I believe in allowing the student to exercise their curiosity and discover that music is a part of life. I am an avid supporter of experiential learning techniques and strive to use them to make music (especially music theory) relatable to those who are learning.”
– Christopher Lovely
Assistant Professor of Music
As a composer/arranger/orchestrator, Mr. Steve Dunn has between 250 and 300 works in the catalogs of numerous publishing houses. These include works for concert band, orchestra, choir and other mixed ensembles, yet represent a fraction of his more than a 1,000 musical creations. He has also written for recordings, radio and television commercials, and recently worked as an orchestrator for a Steven Curtis Chapman concert in Carnegie Hall.
Mr. Dunn has music degrees from Jacksonville State University (BA in music, brass performance), the University of New Mexico (MM, composition), and has done additional graduate study in church music at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
His primary responsibilities at UM are in the area of instrumental studies – specifically as director of Symphonic Winds and Welsh Revival. He currently teaches Music Theory, Instrumental Conducting and Orchestration. He has worn numerous musical hats in his professional life – conductor, teacher, performer, composer/arranger/orchestrator, author and minister musician. While he has extensive choral experience, his focus has been primarily in the area of church instrumental music, having served as a director of orchestras, bands and other instrumental groups at churches in New Mexico, Texas and Alabama. He is a regular guest conductor, clinician and/or speaker for schools, churches, universities and various conferences at the local, state and national level. Additionally, he has contributed as an author on the subject of church instrumental music for various music ministry periodicals.
You can learn more about the music and activities of Steve Dunn at https://www.sdunnmusic.com.
Mrs. Rebeca Lake
Assistant Professor of Performing Arts
An award-winning scenic designer, Rebeca Lake is an emerging regional designer. Her most recent designs were for the Natchez Music Festival’s Tricentennial 2016 season production of Showboat and she was a guest artist at the University of Southern Mississippi for Next to Norma.
She received her Associate of Science. in visual arts from the Northwest Florida State College, and went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts in music and a Bachelor of Arts in theatre from University of Mobile, where she continued to work in the theatre department as an assistant. She then went on to study at the University of Southern Mississippi, receiving her Master of Fine Arts in theatre with a scenic design and technical emphasis. Her design work during her time there won several awards. In 2015 at the Region IV Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival she won first place for her props design for The Tempest which she presented at USITT and was granted a one-week scholarship to the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas. In 2015 she also won the Region IV SETC David Weiss award for Theatrical Design Excellence for her unrealized design of Bent. She was one of eight national finalists to attend the 2016 Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in D.C. where she presented her scenic design of Violet. She has been nominated to present her final graduate design, The Matchmaker, at Region IV KCACTF in 2017.
She has worked for various theatre companies in different capacities throughout the East. In the summer of 2013 she worked at the Lexington Children’s Theatre as a teaching artist and pianist. In May of 2015 she worked as an assistant designer to Director Paul Houghtailing (Pirates of Penzance) and Director Robert Grayson (Madam Butterfly) at the 2015 Natchez Music Festival. She was the assistant props master at the Chautauqua Theatre Company in New York. In the summer of 2014 and 2016 she was the paint charge for the Southern Arena Theatre at the University of Southern Mississippi.
“I encourage my students to ask questions and to actively seek out answers because, in an environment where they are not afraid to ask the hard questions, incredible and life-changing discoveries can be made.”
– Rebeca Lake