Music Studies

Music Studies at Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music (NZSM) is an innovative and dynamic programme that offers interdisciplinary study across the areas of musicology, ethnomusicology, theory and analysis, performance, and jazz studies. Music Studies is the only such combined and flexible programme in New Zealand, and it offers engagement with contemporary issues and research in New Zealand music, European art music, music ethnography, Māori, Pacific, and Asian music, film music, historically-informed performance practice, popular music, jazz, and in other areas.  

Programme highlights

Music Studies course work provides skills in critical thinking, listening, research, writing, communication and presentation that are transferable to a number of different fields and careers. NZSM’s Music Studies programme offers a depth and range of study options (both academic and performative)and resources unique in New Zealand, which allows you to:

  • Study under passionate and dedicated staff—all of whom are internationally active music scholars and researchers (both musicologists and ethnomusicologists) in research-led teaching across the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. 
  • Engage with local, national and international music scholars through our regular Music Forum seminar series.
  • Explore a specialty in new and emerging areas of study, such as music technology, 21st century music, and emerging critical issues in music research.
  • Participate in a diverse and lively community of students and staff, which fosters both international and national relationships in music.
  • Learn to perform music from traditions of Māori waiata, Pacific Island music, or the Javanese and Balinese gamelan (two percussion orchestras of South-east Asia), or explore other regular performance opportunities at NZSM.
  • Prepare for speciality study at the postgraduate level in music through the study of contemporary and critical issues in research.
  • Undertake undergraduate study in music through the options of the BMus degree or the BA degree based on your needs and interests.
  • Undertake music study through options of a defined pathway (in musicology, ethnomusicology, or jazz studies), or through a pathway that suits your musical interests (without specialisation), or through a selection of coursework as part of your current degree outside of music.        

Specialisation of study

The full range of qualifications from the Bachelor of Music, or as part of a Bachelor of Arts to the PhD is offered with a concentration in music studies. At undergraduate level Bachelor of Music, NZSM offers four specialisations in the music studies programme:

  • Ethnomusicology
  • Jazz Studies,
  • Musicology, and
  • Without Specialisation/Mixed.

Each specialisation provides you with the opportunity to develop your unique music interests and talents. Your Music Studies programme of study is tailored to suit the individual requirements of your chosen area of specialisation.


Study music in its cultural contexts from global and local perspectives and as an integral component of human life. The NZSM offers academic and performance study in a wide variety of global musics, with emphasis on Māori and New Zealand, Pacific Island, and Asian musics, and study in indigenous, traditional, art, and popular music.  

Taonga Puoro

Jazz Studies

Study jazz as a style of music and as an art form, examining its social and cultural contexts together with understanding and analyzing jazz idioms.


Study European art music from the Middle Ages to the music of today, approached from a range of historical, critical, sociological, philosophical, and analytical perspectives. The NZSM offers study of a diversity of musics, with an emphasis on eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century music, as well as contemporary art music, orchestral, opera, film and popular music.

Without Specialisation/Mixed 

Study a range of areas without specialisation, including musicology, ethnomusicology, and jazz studies.

Without Specialisation allows a student to build up a specialty from a range of courses, and specifically invites the building of diverse expertise across disciplines, such as performance, composition, or music technology. 

Music Studies Class

Teaching programme


Dr Brian Diettrich - Programme Leader Music Studies
Dr Kim Cannady
Geoffrey Coker
Dr David Cosper
Assoc Prof Greer Garden
Assoc Prof Robert Hoskins
Prof Elizabeth Hudson
Dr Robert Legg
Prof Donald Maurice
Assoc Prof Norman Meehan
Dr Stephan Prock
Dr Inge van Rij
Budi Putra -  Artist Teacher Javanese gamelan
Sanjay Dixit - Artist Teacher Tabla
Tamihana Katene – Māori Performance 

Workshops, Concerts, and Events

Throughout the year, students in the Music Studies programme have the opportunity to attend our Music Forum series and Composer Workshops as well as a huge range of other events including visiting artists and guests. Music Studies also hosts gamelan and Pasifika performances each year at the school. We have a large performance programme, and majors in Music Studies can participate in and attend live jazz, classical, and ethnomusicology performances.

Facilities and resources

Students have access to the huge online and print library collections of both Massey and Victoria Libraries, which include recordings, scores, and music DVDs, books, and magazines. See more about our facilities.

Resources in Ethnomusicology also include the school’s instrument collection (a diverse collection from the Asia-Pacific region, including Māori taonga pūoro, Pasifika instruments, Gamelan Padhang Moncar, and Gamelan Taniwha Jaya), as well as historical sound recordings.  

Student opportunities

  • Enjoy a flexible approach to study that requires no prior formal training in music and features opportunities for collaboration—both within music and interdisciplinarity—with students and staff.
  • Study the diverse music that can be experienced live in Wellington: from regular performances by the NZSO, and Wellington’s International Festival of the Arts, and jazz, and the many cultural communities in Wellington, to buskers on Cuba Street.
  • Explore the resources of the Universities: Massey and Victoria (including Te Herenga Waka Marae); and make your own discoveries in the National Library, National Archives and Te Papa.
  • Music Forum: learn about new perspectives and approaches to music research and in emerging areas of scholarship, from staff, postgraduate students, and from national and international visitors.
  • Postgraduate Forum: share and develop your research with other postgraduate students in an informal, friendly environment.
  • Performance: learn about the music you’re studying or enjoy direct involvement in music-making by taking part in ensembles such as the NZSM’s Balinese or Javanese Gamelan, Māori music and performance, Pasifika performance classes, the NZSM Orchestra or the Jazz Choir (NB: entry to some ensembles is subject to audition).  
  • Work in Wellington: current and former Music Studies students are active at Radio New Zealand, NZSO, Chamber Music NZ and other arts and cultural organisations based in New Zealand’s capital. 

Take a look at some recent Music Studies photos from our Flickr pages.