History and Facilities - Music

"The so-called regional universities in Kentucky, while maintaining undergraduate and graduate programs, have developed special areas of expertise. Among these is Morehead State University's outstanding music program." (Source: The Kentucky Encyclopedia, Dr. John E. Kleber).


For over 100 years, the sweep of history has carried Morehead State University and its predecessor institution, the Morehead Normal School, from one makeshift classroom to the high-tech world of internet-based classes and radio telescope that reaches from a campus hillside literally to the stars. The Morehead State University Department of Music, Theatre and Dance continues to be an active part of an excelling University of national and international prominence.

From Morehead State University’s beginning as the Morehead Normal School in 1887, music played a prominent role in the curriculum and campus life. With the State Normal School Act of 1922, the private Normal School became the public Morehead State Normal School. Emma Shader was named Director of Music and Head of the Music Department.

In 1923, Prof. Shader created and led the first band at Morehead State. Also in the 1920’s, a choir and orchestra were established. The Foster Choral Club was formed in 1930 under the direction of Lewis Henry Horton. Members of this group were chosen through competitive auditions. Marvin E. George formed the first Morehead State Marching Band in 1931. A dance band, The King’s Jesters Orchestra (later called the Blue and Gold), was added to the campus in 1936 under the direction of Prof. Earl K. Senff. Prof. Senff wrote the words and music to Morehead State’s current Fight Song in 1936 for the “big football game” against Eastern Kentucky University. The drum major for this game was Linda Lee Eaton, the first female drum major at Morehead State. The current Alma Mater was written by two Morehead State students in 1952. The words were written by Elwood Kozee and the music was composed by Betty Jo Whitt. During the 1950’s and early 1960’s, under the leadership of Fred Marzan, the Morehead State Marching Band grew from 18 members to over 130. This group was known for the formation of a massive eagle during halftime of home football games. Prof. Marzan’s successor, Robert Hawkins, continued the growth in excellence in the band program. Interest in music at Morehead State extended across the campus and beyond the Department of Music. Earl K. Senff was a history professor. In 1955, English professor John H. Long had a passion for medieval instruments and formed a Renaissance instrumental ensemble called the Elizabethan Consort.

Throughout the history of Morehead State, department ensembles have received regional, national, and international recognition. These groups have performed at state, regional, and national music conferences. The Foster Choral Club performed at WHAS radio station in Louisville, the 1934 Chicago World’s Fair, and the 1940 New York World’s Fair. The Morehead State Bands have performed for two U. S. presidents. In 1948, the band played for President Harry S. Truman when his famous “Whistlestop Campaign” made a stop in Morehead. The band also performed in the Inaugural Parade for President Richard M. Nixon in 1973. The Morehead State University Marching Percussion have won the College Division of the National Marching Percussion Festival at the Percussive Arts Society’s International Conference in 1988, 1992, 1995, and 2003. They finished second in 1989. The MSU Symphony Band and Percussion Ensembles have conducted performance tours of the Peoples’ Republic of China and Brazil. The Morehead State University Department of Music remains committed to continuing the tradition of excellence developed through the work of such persons as Emma Shader, Lewis Henry Horton, Fred Marzan, J. E. Duncan, James Ross Beane, and Robert Hawkins. (Source: A Light to the Mountains: Morehead State University by Dr. Donald F. Flatt, MSU Professor of History Emeritus).

In July, 2009, as part of the re-structuring of MSU's Academic Affairs Division, the theatre and dance programs were combined with music to become the Department of Music, Theatre and Dance.  The Department is part of the School of the Arts within the Caudill College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences.


Baird Music Hall is the center of activity for undergraduate and graduate music students. It houses multi-media classrooms, large and small ensemble rehearsal halls, teaching studios, practice rooms, a 16-station keyboard-skills laboratory, keyboard practice facilities equipped with both studio and grand pianos and organs, the 400-seat Duncan Recital Hall, and the digital music technology laboratory.

The music curriculum is supported by a library collection of 7800 scores, 8200 books about music, 4100 recordings, 470 DVDs and videos, and several hundred other non-print items. Other resources include 44 print subscriptions and 17 standing orders for collected editions. The Library subscribes to several music databases for use both on and off campus. The International Index to Music Periodicals provides access to a large number of periodical articles, some in full text. Grove Music Online is a scholarly encyclopedia of music that has long been recognized as an authoritative reference source. More recently, the Library has added subscriptions to Classical Music Library and Naxos, two recording databases for online listening.

During the Morehead Normal School years, the Music Department was located in Burgess Hall. From there the Department of Music spent many years in the cramped confines of the Fields Hall basement. In 1950, Morehead State President Jesse Baird began pushing for a music building to be built on the playground of the Breckinridge Training School. Baird Hall was built in 1953, with renovations and several additions constructed in 1964, 1968, and 1985. Dr. Baird did not live to see the building that bears his name.

  • Morehead (Residential Campus)
    150 University Blvd., Morehead, KY 40351
  • MSU at Ashland
    1400 College Drive, Ashland, KY 41101
  • MSU at Mt. Sterling
    3400 Indian Mound Drive, Mt. Sterling, KY 40353
  • MSU at Prestonsburg
    6 Bert Combs Drive, Prestonsburg, KY 41653
  • MSU at West Liberty
    155 University Drive, West Liberty, KY 41472
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