Mariam Cannon Hayes School of Music

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The Mariam Cannon Hayes School of Music is part of Appalachian State University and is one of the premier public music schools in the eastern United States. A fully accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Music, the Hayes School of Music offers undergraduate programs in music education, music performance, theory/composition, sacred music performance, music therapy, and music industry studies as well as Master of Music degrees in performance, music education, and music therapy. Particularly distinguished for its music performance, music education, and music therapy programs, the Hayes School of Music draws students and faculty from across the United States and the world. Through summer workshops and specialized course offerings (e.g. the North Carolina Summer Institute of Choral Arts), the Hayes School of Music is engaged in year-round activities. In addition, the school also sponsors the Cannon Music Camp, an annual comprehensive summer music camp that trains younger, high-school-age musicians, during which the North Carolina Symphony is in residence.


The first music teacher at what was to become Appalachian State University was Lillie Shull Dougherty, the wife of University Business Manager and Co-founder D.D. Dougherty. From its beginning, Appalachian State University offered students instruction in voice and piano on an extracurricular basis, and by the late 1920s, choruses, glee clubs, and string bands were flourishing on the campus of what was then Appalachian State Teachers College. Students' increased interest in music led to Edith Knight joining the music faculty, and she broadened the musical offerings to include music education, music appreciation, and additional applied music courses.

Knight was succeeded by Virginia Ward Linney in 1929, and the educational need to prepare specialists to teach music in the public schools led, a year later, to the creation of the Music Department, with Linney serving as chairperson. Soon afterward, courses in harmony, music education, music history and applied music were added to the curriculum. During the Depression years, when enrollment of the University fluctuated between 350 and 900 students in any given year, the college and surrounding area faced hard times. In spite of this, the Music Department continued to expand. More courses were added in order to educate music teachers with an emphasis on excellence in performance. To further this end, in 1939, Gordon Nash and J. Elwood Roberts began teaching band and orchestral instrument methods classes. Two years later, Roy R. Blanton and John B. Thompson were recipients of the first music education degrees conferred by Appalachian.

As with other American colleges and universities in the early 1940s, Appalachian State Teachers College and its Music Department experienced reduced enrollment and a preponderantly female population (Note the number of women in the chamber orchestra photo from 1942). "The war has taken about all our boys," lamented university co-founder and president B.B. Dougherty in 1944.

Postwar years, on the other hand, brought a time of growth and new enthusiasm at Appalachian as returning servicemen altered the demographics and psychology of the nation. In 1952, with Gordon Nash now at the helm, the Appalachian State Teachers College Music Department moved into a new fine arts building, and in 1953, the department joined the National Association of Schools of Music.

From 1958 to 1972, during the tenure of William G. Spencer as Music Department chairman, Appalachian experienced considerable growth in both the number of students and the number of faculty. Student enrollment soared to above 2400 in 1958, only to double to over 5000 by 1968. In 1967, Appalachian, now officially Appalachian State University, became a regional university. Dr. Nicholas Erneston was appointed Dean of the newly organized College of Fine and Applied Arts (which included the Music Department), and in 1969 a proposal was presented to the North Carolina General Assembly to construct on campus a fine arts complex which would include an auditorium and buildings for art, music, speech, and drama.

With the induction of Appalachian State University into the University of North Carolina system in 1972, Chancellor Herbert W. Wey encouraged faculty members to be as creative as they dared. The Music Department met the challenge both with the engagement of world-class performers as applied music faculty, as well as with an explosion of creative ideas, enlivening the curriculum. One such campus-wide experiment from that era that continues to the present day is Watauga College, a residential college with enhanced faculty-student relationships and interdisciplinary studies, which exists in an arts-centered environment within the greater University. The College, located near the School of Music, has served as the home for many of Appalachian's music students. Two other important developments of this period were the establishment of Appalachian’s New York Loft and the Appalachian House in Washington, D.C. These off-campus living environments are available to music students and faculty to pursue off-campus artistic and scholarly field trips and musical opportunities.

The current music complex, the Broyhill Music Center, was completed in the spring of 1983. The Music Center includes two performance spaces, a 125-seat Recital Hall and 440-seat Concert Hall, a state-of-the-art recording studio, an opera studio, a fully equipped MIDI/electronic music studio, a computer lab, a piano lab, a 5,000-square-foot (460 m2) music library, an instrumental rehearsal hall, a choral rehearsal hall, several small ensemble rehearsal rooms, more than 30 studio/offices and over 40 practice rooms.

In 1988, the artistic and academic growth of the Department of Music resulted in its expansion into an autonomous School of Music (and separation from the College of Fine and Applied Arts). In 1989, Arthur Unsworth was named as the first dean of the School of Music. From the beginning of the 21st-century to June 30, 2009, the composer William Harbinson, an alumnus of Appalachian, served as dean of the School of Music. William Pelto, a graduate of Yale University and a former dean at the School of Music of Ithaca College, currently serves as dean of the School of Music.

In May 2001, the late Mariam Cannon Hayes of Concord, NC, who was a longtime patron of the arts and ardent supporter of the music program at Appalachian State University, made a $10 million endowment gift to the School of Music. Proceeds from her endowment fund current and future needs of the School of Music and also provide funding for scholarly research and performance. Subsequently, the Appalachian State University Board of Trustees named the Hayes School of Music in her honor. In addition, Mariam Cannon Hayes had been a prime force behind the creation of The Mariam and Robert Hayes Performing Arts Center. The Center, an off-campus 350-seat facility especially designed for performances of musical theater, opera, and theater, was completed in August 2006 and hosts select School of Music performances.


Over the course of little more than a century, Lillie Shull Dougherty's extracurricular music classes have evolved into what has become an artistic beacon for North Carolina, the Mariam Cannon Hayes School of Music. As does its famous northern counterpart, Juilliard, Appalachian's Hayes School of Music owes a great deal to a patron of the arts connected to the textiles industry (Mariam Cannon Hayes is the daughter of Charles Albert Cannon, the man recognized for making Cannon a brand name, while textile merchant Augustus Juilliard is that school's namesake).

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Coordinates: 36°12′57″N 81°41′04″W / 36.2159°N 81.6844°W / 36.2159; -81.6844