Studies in Organ Performance & Church Music

McCorkle Building at Night Organ students at Mercer are part of the Townsend School of Music, a vibrant and exciting community of performers and scholars who thrive in a supportive environment.  All students are part of a growing private research university situated on a beautiful campus in central Georgia.

Organ Faculty

Dr. Jack MitJack Mitchener chener, Professor of Organ, University Organist and Director of the Townsend-McAfee Institute of Church Music is a national leader in the organ field. He is an award-winning teacher and performer who is wholeheartedly committed to his students. Many of his former students have won prestigious competitions and are now full-time professors, church musicians, and performers throughout the world. He is a positive and encouraging teacher, but also has high standards for performance and academics. He fosters a nurturing environment in which students feel a strong sense of community. He promotes a rigorous course of study, yet strives to help students grow and develop. Dr. Mitchener has performed worldwide and has recorded for the Gothic and Raven labels.  He is represented by Phillip Truckenbrod Concert Artists.

A conservatory within a university

The Townsend School of Music offers our students a high-level conservatory experienceOrgan Students including a vast array of courses in music history, theory, organ history and literature, service playing, improvisation, secondary instruction in voice, piano, harpsichord, choral conducting, etc. Organ majors have the opportunity to collaborate with the outstanding students in the McDuffie Center for Strings and to sing in the acclaimed Mercer Singers, the top choral ensemble on campus. This group provides organ students with invaluable vocal experience and helps to prepare them for church work. The ensemble performs often and has regular tours. They are featured on a nationally-broadcast PBS program, A Grand Mercer Christmas.

                                   Organ Students


Liberal Arts

Our students also have the opportunity to choose from many excellent academic courses in the liberal arts.  And we offer the enjoyment of many extra-curricular activities that one expects from a comprehensive university.

Degrees (double majors and double degree programs are possible)

Bachelor of Music in Performance

Bachelor of Music in Performance with Elective Studies in an Outside Field

Bachelor of Music EducationMcCorkle Building Daytime

Bachelor of Arts in Music

Master of Music in Performance

(“Emphasis in Church Music” can be added by taking six additional credits in church music)

Master of Music in Church Music

(Dual master’s degrees available in organ/conducting and organ/collaborative piano)

Artist Diploma

(advanced study in performance; for students who already hold the MM degree)

Audition Requirements


  • Three pieces in contrasting styles (preferably one major free work of J.S. Bach, plus two pieces from the 19th – 21st centuries). 
  • Prepare a hymn (include introduction and two stanzas, the last of which should include a re-harmonization)
  • Sight read a hymn


MM in Performance

  • Three pieces in contrasting styles (one major free work of J.S. Bach, plus two pieces from the 19th – 21st centuries). 
  • Prepare a hymn (include introduction and two stanzas, the last of which should include a re-harmonization)
  • Sight read hymns
  • Additional sight-reading is possible

MM in Church Music

  • Two pieces in contrasting styles, one of which should be based on a chorale or hymn.
  • Prepare a hymn (include introduction and two stanzas, the last of which should include a re-harmonization)
  • Sight read a hymn

Artist Diploma

  • A recital of approximately 30-45 minutes including four pieces in contrasting styles (one major pre-Bach work, one major free work of J.S. Bach, plus two pieces from the 19th – 21st centuries).  The level of difficulty of the repertoire (both musical and technical) will be taken into consideration.
  • Sight read at least two hymns
  • Additional sight-reading is possible

Fabian Scholarships for Undergraduates

Highly qualified undergraduates are eligible for the Fabian Scholarships, awards that will cover all expenses (tuition, room & board, etc.) plus provide additional financial support for summer study abroad.Mercer also awards numerous other academic and music scholarships.

Assistantships for Graduate Students

All graduate students receive assistantships and significant reduction of fees.Many receive full tuition remission.The graduate program is small and gives students extraordinary faculty and university resources.


Organs oOrgan in Newton Chapeln campus include all mechanical action instruments of Holtkamp (1984; revoiced by Halbert Gober and François Desautels, 2020-22; new console by Desautels, 2022), Juget-Sinclair, Noack, Richards & Fowkes, and a Gonzalez studio organ built in Paris in 1953 and reconstructed by Robert Martin of Marseille, France in 2012 (donated to Mercer by Michel Snethlage on behalf of the estate of Jacqueline and Giuseppe Englert, the daughter and son-in-law of celebrated French organist André Marchal.The organ has been designated as the Giuseppe Englert Memorial Organ).  Other local instruments by Aeolian, Casavant, Fisk, Goulding & Wood, Pilcher/Schlicker, Schantz/Schlueter, and Skinner/Möller are available to students for practice, lessons, master classes, and recitals.The harpsichords in the Townsend School of Music include instruments by Hubbard and Kingston.  Mercer is an all-Steinway School, so all of our pianos represent the high quality of Steinway. 

Here's what our students are saying

  • Selecting Mercer for my organ studies was an obvious choice for me due to the overwhelming, well-warranted respect that the studio has for their professor.  Dr. Mitchener is a patient, enthusiastic teacher who fosters the highest level of musical excellence in his students." 

Savannah Curro, B.M. ’23 (Arlington, MA)

  • “My experience at Mercer not only helped to prepare me for a career in sacred music, but also ignited my passion for it. Prof. Mitchener is a trusted mentor, as well as the finest instructor one could ask for. I’m proud to be a Mercer alumnus!”

Richard Gress, B.M. ’19, Mercer (New Market, NH)

M.M. ’21, Yale Institute of Sacred Music

  • Mercer has allowed me to grow and develop into a well-rounded musician. There are a variety of performance opportunities either as a soloist or part of an ensemble. Studying organ with Dr. Mitchener has improved my technique and my ability to play the organ musically. Dr. Mitchener is an excellent teacher who truly cares about his students.

Samuel McDaniel, B.M. ’22 (Barnesville, GA)

  • “The Church Music program helmed by Dr. Mitchener brought to light different approaches to the field of Church Music.  Through private organ lessons, service playing classes, repertoire classes, and more I was taught how to critically approach each aspect of a church music position, whether it is choosing music for services, effective ways of leading congregations, conducting choirs, preparing music each week, and the administration of a parish music program. These skills have allowed me to pursue a career as a Director of Music and Liturgy.”

Dominic Richards, M.M. in Church Music, Mercer, ’17 (Nashua, NH)

  • "Dr. Mitchener is a fabulous teacher. He fosters and develops your own unique voice as a player.”

Davis Badaszewski, B.M., Mercer, ’20 (Ridgewood, NJ)

  • "I could not ask for a better experience than my time at Mercer.  Dr. Jack Mitchener created a nurturing environment that allowed me to unlock my natural abilities while offering solid musical insight spanning the gamut of repertoire." 

Justin Maxey, Artist Diploma, Mercer, ’18 (Winder, GA)

For more information, please contact Dr. Mitchener at

Discover Townsend – – (478) 301-5751