A fun-filled and inspiring conversation with the young and dynamic, Dr. W Bryce Hayes, who’s making an impact with his use of Kodály musicianship building in the collegiate choral rehearsal.

FYF 010 : Don't worry! Be happy! with Dr. W. Bryce Hayes



Dr. W. Bryce Hayes maintains an active career as a conductor, teacher, church musician, pianist, accompanist and singer. As a choral conductor Bryce is currently assistant professor of Choral Music Education at James Madison University where he works with the Treble Chamber Choir, The University Men’s Chorus, and Kor, a select men’s ensemble of 14. In addition to his choral conducting responsibilities at JMU, Bryce teaches graduate choral literature, undergraduate conducting, and music education classes. 

He is an active adjudicator and clinician, recent and upcoming appearances include conducting honors choirs and workshops in Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota. As a baritone he has performed in the professional ensemble, The Princeton Singers, and most recently as a founding member of The Valley 7. Dr. Hayes serves as the Virginia ACDA Repertoire and Standards Chair for Youth and Student Activities.

Dr. Hayes is a certified Kodály educator, and his current research interests include strategies for improving musicianship with secondary and collegiate choirs, the role of gender in the choral ensembles, and creativity in the choral classroom.

A New Jersey native, Dr. Hayes hails most recently from Minneapolis, Minnesota where he completed the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting from The University of Minnesota. Prior to his time in Minnesota Dr. Hayes received a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from Temple University. His career began with a Bachelor of Music degree in music education summa cum laude from Westminster Choir College following which he served as the Director of Upper School Choral Music at Princeton Day School.

The moment you knew you’d dedicate your life to music

Dr. Hayes was a freshman in the high school choir, singing alto, when he went to a Heritage Festival concert at the Kennedy Center. The Westminster Choir was the final concert. When the concert was over, he was the first to jump up and applaud. Dr. Flummerfelt took noticed and made eye contact from the podium. Several years later, Dr. Hayes was singing under Dr. Flummerfelt’s direction.

Worst musical moment

After about five years at Princeton Day School, Dr. Hayes found that he was repeating parts of his professional technique. He was lead down a dark path to contemplate what was next. He considered many options including seminary. Eventually he chose to pursue his masters and DMA.

The proudest musical moment

As an undergrad,  the men of the Westminster Choir and the boys of the American Boychoir got to sing Bach’s Saint John Passion, under the baton of Kurt Masur, at Avery Fisher Hall.

Dr. Hayes has hosted the Young Men’s Choral Invitational at JMU and got to conduct it twice.

Your “Forte”

Dr. Hayes’ forte is empowering choral musicians to have what it takes within them to continue to grow without the him. He does this through musicianship skill building. One of the ways he does this was inspired by his Kodály training. He created “Echo – Decipher – Discover”,  at the beginning of each rehearsal, slowly building the ear and the literate musician over time.

Most excited about right now

Dr. Hayes is completing his Echo, Decipher, Discover plans and his hoping to get out to publishers soon!

Advice for your younger self

“Don’t worry. Be happy.” 🙂

Book Discussed

Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid