By Tammie Thompson
Richard “Ricky” Hutton has blazed through the new Doctor of Musical Arts degree program, finishing in just two years, what typically takes three. A Reno resident for 10 years, Hutton will not only be one of the first graduates of the program, but he has also accepted a very coveted tenure-track position of Assistant Professor of Music: Choral Music Education and Assistant Director of Choral Activities, at Boise State University. A tenured position right out of graduation is considered an accomplishment in the competitive space of academia.
Hutton came to the University of Nevada, Reno with a broad background and education in music, having started his higher education as a pre-med student at Loyola University Chicago. He quickly took a turn towards music and philosophy; he was set on becoming a choral conductor. After earning a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from Westminister Choir College of Rider University, Princeton, NJ, his path was clear.
With choral participation and conducting from Illinois to New Jersey to Connecticut accumulated on his resume, Hutton landed in Reno ten years ago and brought his talent and zest for music to the Northern Nevada community. Hutton’s commitment to promoting music in schools was represented across Reno having served in positions at Sage Ride School, Hug High School and Spanish Springs High School. Hutton was able to put a mark on the community, stating that “my philosophy of music education is easy, my greatest desire is to bring the power and value of music to the community; to bring that sense of belonging.”
“We’re excited that our first Doctor of Music Arts degree enrollees are completing the program and proceeding to exciting career placements,” Reed Chamberlin, Chair of the Music Department said. “Because the program is flexible, it allows for students to study in full-time residencies ranging from the traditional three-year down to just one year. In this way, candidates like Ricky Hutton can pursue a DMA with less impact on their professional responsibilities as they advance to the next phase of their career.”
As a newer program, Doctor of Musical Arts degree program offers the following specializations: instrumental music performance, vocal performance and conducting (choral, orchestral and wind).
The Doctor of Musical Arts degree is widely accepted as the terminal degree in music performance. Implemented in 2019, the University’s DMA is designed to provide advanced musical training, scholarly enrichment and career advancement to its graduates. Students enrolled in this program include practicing professionals looking to further develop their skills and knowledge and students following the traditional graduate degree path. Potential student outcomes include placements on college and university faculties, advancement within K-12 systems, and broader access to professional performing opportunities.
The new program features active committee members participating in each student’s education. For Hutton that meant committee members Paul Torkelson (Director of Choral Studies Emeritus and Advisor), Julianne Lindberg (Associate Professor of Musicology), Kate Pollard (Principal Lecturer in Music Education), Katherine Parker (Lecturer of Voice), and Marta Elliot (Department Chair of Social Psychology), met to discuss Ricky’ program and progress. Torkelson, Hutton’s advisor, credits the committee's approach of collaboration with the program’s success.
“Collaboration strengthened the department with an exciting level of work,” Torkelson said. “Ricky is a highly motivated student, more like a young colleague, that’s exciting to have that energy in the classroom. The goal of creating the doctorate program at the University is to keep students in Reno, completing degrees and moving on to job placements. It’s a very competitive market, especially tenure track positions. I am pleased to know that Boise State has recruited one of our students. It bodes well for the program, and in the long run, raises the stature of the department. I am very proud of Ricky; he has a great career ahead, making a mark for himself. He challenged himself to get to that collegiate level.”
Hutton considers himself a lifelong learner, and along with that a lifelong educator, whether in the classroom or the community. Hutton is headed to Boise State University, but says, “After 10 years in Reno it will be difficult to leave Reno, my established community, but it’s bittersweet given the opportunity.”