Thomas McKinley


Composition Department Head
Music Theory Department Head
Music History Department Head
Undergraduate Adviser

Department: Conservatory of Music

Office location:

International Center

DI 309


Phone: +1 561-237-9007

Fax: +1 561-237-9002

Professional profile

Thomas L. McKinley, professor of music theory and composition at Lynn University, serves as curriculum coordinator and undergraduate academic adviser for the Conservatory of Music. A busy composer and instructor, McKinley' teaching experience spans more than two decades and includes positions previously held at Tulane University, the College of the Holy Cross, Tufts University and the New England Conservatory's Extension Division.

McKinley received his Ph.D. (1987) and A.M. (1984) degrees in composition from Harvard University and his M.M. (1980) and B.M. (1978) degrees, also in composition, from the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music. His teachers have included Norman Dinerstein, Ivan Tcherepnin, Peter Lieberson, Earl Kim, Leon Kirchner and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.

McKinley has had compositions performed throughout the United States, as well as internationally in Madrid, Spain and Rotterdam, the Netherlands. He has received grants, awards and commissions from the James Pappoutsakis Memorial Fund, Inc. the Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities (Extension Works, see below) Harvard University ASCAP/Aspen Music School the Georgia Woodwind Quintet (in residence at the University of Georgia) Marc Reese (trumpet, Empire Brass) the Wesley Weyman Fund (Boston, MA) the University of Cincinnati the Florida State Music Teachers Association (2014 Commissioned Composer) and was the Composer-in-Residence at the 6th Annual New Music Festival at Lynn University (2011).

McKinley's Six Bagatelles for Wind Quintet have been recorded on CD by the Georgia Woodwind Quintet. He was one of the founding members of the Boston-based performing group Extension Works and served as its secretary/treasurer for five years. In October 1986 he was invited to have works played and be a guest performer (piano) at the 62nd State Convention of the Kentucky Federation of Music Clubs.

In addition to his work as a composer and teacher, McKinley has pursued research in music theory and analysis. His principal areas of interest are chromaticism in the common-practice period and tonality in twentieth-century music. He has completed a study titled "Dominant-Related Chromatic Third Progressions: a Reappraisal of Third Relationship in the Common-Practice Period, including a system of Classification." Throughout the past decade he has broadened his research interests to include the interdisciplinary study of the visual arts and music. Together with art historian Olivia Shelley, McKinley has given a series of lectures and seminars throughout South Florida on a variety of topics.


B.M., University of Cincinnati
M.M., University of Cincinnati
A.M., Harvard University
Ph.D., Harvard University

Teaching philosophy

I believe that private instruction in music should be tailored to the individual needs and goals of each student. Just as no person is exactly the same as any other, educational plans should vary and be unique to the particular student involved. In both private instruction and classroom situations, the specific knowledge and skills imparted are of great importance however, my primary goal as a teacher—without discouraging or overwhelming the student—is to make the student aware of how much there is to learn. I want the student to leave my classes with the desire to learn more and to realize that many analytical approaches, opinions and attitudes exist in the world, and that while these points of view are sometimes complementary in nature, they often seem to conflict, and that by embracing these conflicts the student grows.

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