Teaching Assistantships


TA Application Deadline: December 1

Many Thornton departments offer teaching assistantships to qualified master’s and doctoral students pursuing degrees within the Thornton School. In some cases, a special TA application must be submitted in order to be considered. Compensation for most TA positions includes a tuition waiver, coverage of health and dental insurance, and a stipend of roughly $15,250 per year. Specific benefits and award amounts vary from year to year.

Thornton Teaching Assistantships are usually 1-year appointments and can be re-assigned to new students each year. However, most TA’s keep their position for multiple years while they complete either a master’s or doctoral degree.

Teaching assistantships are offered in the following areas:

  • Choral and Sacred Music
  • Classical Guitar
  • Early Music
  • Jazz Studies**
  • Keyboard Studies (group piano)**
  • Keyboard Collaborative Arts & Opera
  • Musicology
  • Music Teaching and Learning
  • Music Technology**
  • Music Theory
  • Opera Pianist/Coach
  • Percussion
  • Studio Guitar
  • Thornton General Education Courses**
  • Vocal Arts**
  • Wind Ensemble** (open to current Thornton MM & DMA students only)

**Important Note: The positions marked with a “double asterisk” in the list above require a separate TA application

TA positions can include the following duties:

  • Teaching private lessons to non-music majors
  • Teaching class-piano, drumming proficiency classes, or class-voice
  • Assisting faculty with lecture courses as well as administrative tasks
  • Leading discussion sessions
  • Teaching sight-singing and ear training
  • Preparing scores and handling logistics for ensemble rehearsals
  • Conducting choral ensembles
  • Piano accompanying (opera, choral ensembles, vocal & instrumental lessons, auditions)
  • Grading papers and assignments

TA Application Instructions

Most Thornton TA positions do not require a separate application form. Positions marked with a double asterisk** in the list above require a separate TA application. Applicants for admission to programs not marked with a double asterisk** in the list above are automatically considered for open TA positions.

Continuing Thornton students who are interested in being considered for these TA positions, but are not applying for admission, should speak directly to faculty or the department chair of these departments, as a formal application is not required.

Information about all TA positions, including special application requirements and links to TA applications, if required can be found below.

Questions about TA positions and the TA application process may be directed to the department offering the position or to the USC Thornton office of Admission.

Note: the TA application Deadline is December 1, unless otherwise indicated below.

TA Positions Requiring an Application

General Education – TA Application required, click here.

Thornton offers several large General Education classes for USC undergraduate students for which TA support is needed. MM, MA, DMA, and PhD students in all Thornton programs are eligible to apply for these positions, though doctoral students are usually preferred. Applicants must possess excellent oral and written communication skills and have a stellar academic record. Prior experience with grading and providing academic support is essential.

Questions may be directed to Kit Bellamy: keb@usc.edu

Jazz Studies and Jazz Drums – TA Application required, click here.

Assistantships in Jazz Studies are awarded only to students pursuing MM or DMA degrees in Jazz Studies. There are two positions teaching Drumming Proficiency classes, as well as 3 general TA positions assisting with academic courses and ensembles.

With the required TA application form, Jazz TA applicants are required to submit a brief video answering the following questions:

  1. In your opinion, what makes you a strong candidate for TA positions in jazz studies?
  2. Aside from being a strong player and composer, what do you feel your strengths are as a musician?
  3. What motivates you to aspire to be a teaching assistant in jazz studies?

Questions about Jazz TA positions and TA application requirements may be directed to the Division of Contemporary Music: contemporary.music@usc.edu

Keyboard Studies/Group Piano – TA Application required from continuing Thornton students only, click here.

Applicants to Thornton graduate degrees may indicate their interest in TA positions on the Application for Admission (separate TA application form is not required).
TA Applicants must submit a 10-15 minute unedited video of either: an individual lesson with a beginning or elementary level student – OR – an elementary level group piano class.

Applicants must also submit a resumé including all relevant prior teaching experience, and one letter of recommendation that directly addresses your abilities as a teacher. A live teaching audition (in addition to the performance audition required for admission) is required of Group Piano TA applicants.

For TA applicants applying to a Thornton degree program: all required TA application materials are to be uploaded in Thornton’s admission application where indicated. The teaching audition will be scheduled in conjunction with the admission audition; usually on the Friday prior to, or on the Monday or Tuesday following your admission audition. The Keyboard Studies Department will notify applicants of their TA audition appointment by e-mail after admission auditions are announced.

TA applicants who are continuing Thornton students should submit the TA application form, and will be contacted directly by the Keyboard Studies Department at some point during the spring semester regarding their teaching audition.

Questions may be directed to the Keyboard Studies Department: classical@usc.edu

Music Technology – TA Application required, click here.

This position is open to all Thornton master’s and doctoral students. Candidates should have considerable experience with Pro Tools and Logic Pro X (Ableton would be a plus) and should have experience teaching technology-related subject matter. A resume is required and should highlight technology skills and previous technology teaching experience. Faculty may contact finalists to request further materials.

Questions may be directed to the Division of Contemporary Music: contemporary.music@usc.edu

Wind Ensemble – TA Application required, click here.

The Wind Ensemble TA position is open to current USC Thornton students only. New applicants to USC Thornton are not eligible to apply. One TA position exists in this area, and it is normally a 2-3 year appointment. Therefore, the position only comes open once every 2-3 years.

Questions may be directed to Sharon Lavery: lavery@usc.edu

Vocal Arts – TA Application required, see details below.

Eligible applicants who pass the pre-screen round will be invited to apply for TA positions in Vocal Arts.

Application Deadline: January 22

Teaching Assistantships (TAs) in Vocal Arts are awarded only to students pursuing MM and DMA degrees in Vocal Arts. Applicants who are invited to perform a live audition are eligible to apply for Vocal Arts TA positions. Eligible Applicants will be notified when the application form is opened, around December 20, as part of the audition invitation letter.

Duties include both A) teaching non-vocal majors in a voice-class setting and B) individual private lessons. A live, on-campus audition is required of all TA candidates. A complete TA application must be submitted in order to be considered.

Note: Incomplete Applications will be removed from consideration.

The following items must be submitted with the TA application form:

    1. A 10-minute video demonstrating your teaching skills in a one-on-one setting. Please be sure to show a series of vocal exercises, followed by work on a piece of vocal repertoire. Please do not exceed the 10-minute time limit; in order to adhere to this, editing your video may be necessary.
      • Repertoire should be primarily classical; however, you may also choose a musical theatre song from the “Golden Age” rep (Rogers & Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe, Bernstein, etc.) but please do not include pop, rock or jazz rep. in your teaching demonstration.
      • We are interested in you as the teacher, not necessarily the student singer; please be sure the camera shows both of you clearly.
    2. One letter of reference from someone who can speak to your teaching abilities OR knowledge of your leadership skills. You may give this advice to your recommender:
      • If the applicant has no teaching experience, OR if you have not directly observed their teaching, please speak to their potential for fine teaching, plus any leadership positions in which you have observed the applicant in action.
    3. brief Statement of Purpose; to include:
        1. general teaching experience, (any)
        2. specific teaching experience, voice
        3. teaching philosophy and/or interest in teaching
        4. rating of piano skills on a descriptive 1-5 scale:
          1. I have none/zero/zip
          2. I can accompany a vocal warm-up, but nothing else
          3. I can play simple piano accompaniments in a lesson (i.e. folk songs, simple Schubert lieder, etc.)
          4. I am a competent accompanist who could perform in that role in a public setting (i.e. non-major recitals).

Questions may be directed to the Vocal Arts Department: classical@usc.edu

TA Application Not Required

Choral Music – TA Application not required

Assistantships in Choral and Sacred Music are awarded only to MM and DMA students pursuing degrees in Choral & Sacred Music; all applicants and current students are automatically considered. Choral Music TA’s conduct and manage choral ensembles and/or assist faculty with ensembles. Administrative tasks, organizational duties, and event planning and management may be also be assigned.

Questions may be directed to the Department of Choral and Sacred Music: 213-821-5756

Classical Guitar – TA Application not required

Assistantships in Classical Guitar are awarded only to students pursuing MM and DMA degrees in Classical Guitar; all applicants and current students are automatically considered. Duties include teaching lessons to non-guitar majors. Applicants for admission should make sure one recommendation letter submitted with the application for admission addresses teaching abilities, personality and character, as well as musical ability. An additional interview/audition may be required of TA candidates, and will be scheduled by the department.

Questions may be directed to the Classical Guitar Department: 213-740-7399, usclasgt@usc.edu

Early Music – TA Application not required

A live audition and interview is required of Early Music TA applicants, and will take place on the regular audition date. One TA position exists in the Early Music area, and it is normally a 2-3 year appointment. Therefore, the position only comes open only once every 2-3 years. All applicants to the MA and DMA in Early Music, as well as current students are automatically considered.

Questions may be directed to the Early Music Department: 213-740-7418

Keyboard Collaborative Arts – TA Application not required

Assistantships in Studio/Class Collaboration are only awarded to MM and DMA students pursuing degrees in Keyboard Collaborative Arts. Graduate Certificate students are not eligible for TA positions. MM and DMA applicants must indicate on the application for admission whether they are interested in TA positions.

A separate audition for the Studio/Class Collaborative TA is not required, candidates are assessed during the regular admission audition.

Questions may be directed to the Keyboard Studies Department: classical@usc.edu

Musicology – TA Application not required

Assistantships in Musicology are awarded only to PhD candidates in Musicology. All Musicology applicants and current students are automatically considered for these assistantships.

Questions may be directed to the Musicology Department: 213-740-7418

Music Teaching and Learning – TA Application not required

Assistantships in Music Teaching and Learning are awarded only to students pursuing MM and DMA degrees in Music Teaching and Learning, or Community Music. All applicants for admission to MTAL & MTCM are automatically considered. Current USC Thornton students pursuing degrees in MTAL or MTCM who wish to be considered for TA positions should contact the MTAL department chair.

Questions may be directed to the Music Teaching and Learning Department: 213-740-3129, musictal@usc.edu

Opera Pianist/Coach – TA Application not required

One assistantship exists for Opera Pianist/Coach. The position is available only to MM and DMA students pursuing degrees in Keyboard Collaborative Arts. GRCT students are not eligible for TA positions. MM and DMA applicants must indicate on the application for admission whether they are interested in TA positions. A special live TA audition is required. Applicants who indicate their interest in the Opera TA position will be contacted directly by the Opera department regarding audition arrangements.

Questions may be directed to the Keyboard Studies Department: classical@usc.edu

Percussion – TA Application not required

The Percussion assistantship is awarded only to MM and DMA students pursuing degrees in orchestral percussion. All applicants to the MM and DMA in Percussion as well as current students are automatically considered. A live audition and interview is required for TA consideration, and will be conducted in conjunction with the admission audition. There is one TA position in percussion, and it is normally a 2-3 year appointment, therefore the position only comes open once every 2-3 years.

Questions may be directed to the Department of Winds and Percussion: 213-740-7416

Studio/Jazz Guitar – TA Application not required

Assistantships in Studio Guitar are awarded only to MM and DMA students pursuing degrees in Studio Guitar. TA’s teach lessons to non-guitar majors. All applicants for admission to the Studio Guitar Program as well as current students are automatically considered for these positions.

Questions may be directed to the Division of contemporary Music: contemporary.music@usc.edu

Theory & Composition – TA Application not required

Assistantships in Theory & Composition are awarded only to MM and DMA students pursuing degrees in Composition. All applicants to the MM and DMA in Composition, as well as current students are automatically considered for teaching assistantships.

Questions may be directed to the Composition Department: 213-740-7416