- Sacred Music (Conducting): DMA
Brandon Hollihan is a student in the Sacred Music department working towards his Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) degree and specializing in choral conducting. A double domer, Brandon already possesses an undergraduate degree from Notre Dame, as well as his master's degree from Ohio State.
In the summer of 2018, Brandon had the opportunity to enrich his expertise by attending two major conducting programs, Chorus America in southern California and the Norfolk Chamber Music and Choral Conducting Festival in Connecticut.
In order to attend these highly selective programs, Brandon worked with the Office of Grants and Fellowships to obtain funding. Specifically, he won a Graduate School Professional Development Award (GSPDA) which covered significant portions of the costs for attending these events, allowing Brandon to focus on the event's content instead of stressing about finances.
By working with consultant James Cotton to win the grant, Brandon not only achieved his goal of winning funding, but also learned about himself in the process: "I learned — in my mid-30s — how you never stop improving as a writer!" he says. "I also reminded myself of the importance of multiple drafts and not being afraid to ask for feedback.
With newfound confidence and grant-writing skills, Brandon is now working on an application for an external grant that would allow him to explore contemporary performance. He says that he hopes to raise awareness among fellow Sacred Music students that at Notre Dame, funding and resources aren't just available for traditional PhD students in programs one hears about every day, but for students in every program.
He also wants fellow graduate students to know that while Notre Dame supports unique research endeavors, they simultaneously commit themselves to helping students develop communication skills: "The greatest thing I gained from the grant writing experience was a refinement of my writing; less prose and exposition, more selling points and clarity in why I need to fund certain projects. It's easy to lose sight of that with all the paperwork you have in graduate school."