The Music Department at Millsaps College offers rigorous musical training programs within a broad liberal arts experience. We provide instruction to students of all ability levels through private lessons, ensemble performance, diverse course topics, and professional development opportunities. Our faculty encourage student musicians to not only learn how to master their craft but also ask the question "why," coupling practical knowledge and skill with curiosity and critical investigation. Graduates of the Millsaps Music Department leave prepared for a life as a professional musician or to further their training in graduate programs.

With participation from roughly one-quarter of our campus population, the Department of Music at Millsaps constitutes a dynamic creative environment that unites tradition with innovation. This is reflected in the variety of course offerings and performance ensembles, which range from choirs and chamber ensembles to instrumental jazz and experimental music. Music at Millsaps also offers several annual international study opportunities and is closely aligned with the College’s award-winning study-abroad program. At the same time, Millsaps’ location in the heart of Mississippi’s capital city facilitates cultural participation and the freedom to connect with the roots of American music. Our international reach combined with the strong ties to our local community situate the Music Department at a cultural crossroad where ideas and creative works intersect.

  • Cheryl W. Coker—Millsaps College

    Cheryl W. Coker

    Associate Professor of Music

    601.974.1425 | Email


    BMEd, MM, University of Southern Mississippi; DMA, University of Minnesota

    "My early passion for music began at the age of three, when my parents presented me with a toy piano. Since we lived in a small apartment, a "real" piano was not available until I was ten. Before that time, I continued to play regularly on the little instrument, developing musical skills and a growing appreciation for "making music," however that could be accomplished.

    "My philosophy of teaching reflects the title Adventures in Singing, a text written by Dr. Clifton Ware, one of my voice teachers. Encouraged at Millsaps to follow his passion, Ware began his journey at Millsaps when he majored in philosophy. He has since published several books about singing and teaching.

    "Students of voice at Millsaps bring diverse backgrounds and abilities to their study. This diversity gives me the opportunity to guide each student in exploring his or her unique potential, working together to discover his or her passion in music while finding his or her voice. A liberal arts setting provides interaction that connects disciplines within the voice studio, as conversations are initiated about philosophy, psychology, anatomy, acoustical physics, history, poetry, communication, and drama. Not all my students are voice majors, and these topics of discussion can be related to the study of voice.

    "The passion for making and sharing music continues to expand with each new student as we begin our journey of adventures in voice together. And the toy piano that started everything for me? It sits today in my studio as a reminder of my own personal journey."

  • Rachel Heard—Millsaps College

    Rachel Heard

    Associate Professor and Chair of Music; Director, Millsaps Conservatory of Music

    601.974.1420 | Email


    BM, MM, The Juilliard School; DMA, Rutgers University

    Rachel Heard, associate professor of music at Millsaps College, is active as performer, teacher and adjudicator for music organizations around the U.S., Canada, Europe, the Far East, and South America. She combines her experience on both the fortepiano and modern piano to present recitals, lectures and demonstrations of the application of period performance practice to interpretation today.

    As an active performer who loves to teach, Heard’s primary goal is to build a community of scholarly musicians eager to share their knowledge—not only on stage, but also as future scholars and teachers. “When performing and studying the great masterpieces of the past, I have always felt it was my duty to respect the composer’s wishes as much as possible, reading the score carefully and studying its historical and social context. Otherwise, these amazing works of art will not be properly understood and, in some sense, will truly cease to exist. Likewise, I feel it is my duty to share my knowledge with the next generation of musicians in order to continue the traditions that were passed on to me. I was especially fortunate to study with some of the most important pianists and fortepianists of the 20th century.”

    In recognition of her commitment to teaching and performing, Heard has received numerous grants and commendations, including the 2008–2009 Millsaps College Outstanding Young Faculty Award. Professionally, she has been an active member of Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) for over 25 years, and from 2008 to 2010 she served as president of the Mississippi Music Teachers Association (affiliated with MTNA). Her three solo fortepiano recordings featuring the works of Haydn and J. C. Bach can be found on the NAXOS label. See HAYDN: Piano Sonatas Nos. 43, 44 and 47 / F Minor Variations, BACH, J.C.: Keyboard Sonatas, Op. 5 (Heard), and BACH, J.C.: Keyboard Sonatas, Op. 17 (Heard).

  • H. Lynn Raley

    H. Lynn Raley

    Associate Professor of Music

    601.974.1423 | Email


    BM, Southern Methodist University; MM, University of Cincinnati; DMA, Rutgers University

    Pianist Lynn Raley has performed across the United States and in the Netherlands, Canada, and Taiwan. His commitment to the music of our time has brought him engagements at the Santa Fe and Florida international festivals of electroacoustic music, the renowned NewMusicNewCollege series in Sarasota FL, and contemporary music festivals in Texas, Florida, Alabama, and Tennessee. He has presented solo concerts of contemporary music in Dallas, Houston, Cincinnati, and New York. Raley has given concert-talks on new music at numerous colleges and music schools, including the Juilliard School, Rice University, Westminster Choir College, Anderson University, and the Taipei National University of the Arts. In the U.S. he has performed with the Houston Symphony under Akira Endo, Cincinnati Philharmonia under Gerhard Samuel, Rutgers Summerfest Orchestra under Carl St. Clair, and the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra under Crafton Beck. Chamber music collaborations include the José White and Amabilé string quartets. He has recently completed a recording with Grammy Award winning producer Max Wilcox, which will include a work written from him by Pulitzer Prize winner Charles Wuorinen, as well as new works by Augusta Read Thomas and Wayne Peterson.

    Lynn Raley was a Senior Fulbright Scholar in Taiwan in 2012-2013, serving as Visiting Associate Professor of Music at the National Chiao Tung University. He studied at Southern Methodist University, the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and Rutgers University. His teachers included William Trantham, David Bar-Illan, Theodore Lettvin, Paul Hoffmann, and Menahem Pressler, and he has performed in master classes for Adele Marcus, Lili Kraus, Leon Fleisher, Claude Frank, and Gilbert Kalish.

    Raley can be heard in contemporary solo and ensemble works on the Leonarda and Capstone compact disc labels.

  • Jason Carl Rosenberg

    Jason Carl Rosenberg

    Visiting Assistant Professor of Music

    601.974.1427 | Email


    BA, New College of Florida; MA, PhD, University of California, San Diego

    Jason Carl Rosenberg (b.1979; Ph.D. in Music from UC San Diego) is an acclaimed composer, conductor, and music cognition researcher. Having worked in Switzerland and Singapore for several years, Dr. Rosenberg is active in several contemporary music scenes in the U.S. and abroad, and seeks to link these communities through collaborative projects and innovative programming. His concert music uses contrapuntal inventiveness and rhythmic vitality to create rich environments of “power and persuasion…and violence” (Herald Tribune). His music also features an interaction with historical models, especially from the Renaissance and Baroque, through an idiosyncratic artistic practice based on evocation and transformation. Rosenberg has been a selected composer at several festivals, including the Royaumont Abbey and the Acanthes Festival, and has received the Salvatore Martirano Award and the Foro de Música Nueva Composition Prize.

    Dr. Rosenberg’s research explores musical and linguistic syntax. His on-going collaborations with cognitive neuroscientists at Tufts University, University of Maryland, and the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands investigate whether language and music rely on shared cognitive mechanisms. Recent projects at Tufts University have expanded his research to include the role of constraint upon musical and linguistic expectancy.

    Dr. Rosenberg is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at Millsaps College and is the Artistic Director of MEME, the Mississippi Experimental Music Ensemble.

    Visit Dr. Rosenberg’s website at

  • Jonathan Trotter

    Jonathan Trotter

    Interim Director of Choral Activities

    601.974.1426 | Email


    BA, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; MM, University of Mississippi; PhD candidate, University of South Carolina