Matthew Machemer, associate kantor, leads instrumentalists during the Office of Vespers with Distribution of Calls into the Holy Ministry on Tuesday, April 30, 2019, in Kramer Chapel at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind. LCMS Communications/Erik M. Lunsford

Matt Machemer was initially attracted to Concordia’s Master of Church Music program because of the flexibility it provided.

Deliberately built with working professionals in mind, CUW’s graduate-level program uniquely includes on-the-ground coursework requirements conveniently scheduled over the summer. All courses are taught by professors with extensive background in church music. Those who enroll in the Master of Church Music program will choose from two areas of emphasis:

  • Choral
  • Organ


With a residential location some five hours away from CUW, two young children at home, a full work load as associate kantor for Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne on his plate, and a Master of Divinity program already underway, that convenience was paramount for Machemer.

Convenience and flexibility – but not at the expense of quality.

“It was really important to me to actually get something out of the program, and not just get the piece of paper,” Machemer said. “In order to continue to grow in my field and to continue to push myself to get better, that next degree was just so essential.”

Photo courtesy of Steve J. Blakey/CTSFW

He found the rigor he sought in CUW’s graduate-level program as well.

While the five-week summer sessions are unquestionably intense, the trade-off is flexibility and more time afforded to other areas of one’s life during the rest of the year. By contrast, other comparable programs offered by peer institutions nationwide spread out the curriculum over five-plus years, mandate in-person attendance year-round, or move the entire program online.

“It’s so valuable to be in person,” Machemer noted. “The faculty really capitalize on those summer sessions. Getting to know [Dr. James] Freese, [Prof. Lynn] Little, and [Dr. Alexa] Doeble has been one of the best parts of the program for me. They’re excellent musicians, but even beyond that they’re great teachers. And the best part is that I haven’t had to ask myself if I needed to sacrifice a year of my kids’ lives for it.”

— This story is written by Kali Thiel, director of university communications for Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. She may be reached at or 262-243-2149.

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