Music Education Impact

Our Music Education Community here at Western is committed to scholarly work of various forms, from research to practice, to pedagogical work, to artistic production, to creative endeavours. In all, both faculty and students strive for work that is meaningful and has an impact both on the educational and musical community as well as in academic circles. Our diverse faculty and students are presenting and workshopping across Canada and all over the world. Our faculty is widely published and constantly leading the way in music education thought and practice. 

Below you will find a selection of the ways in which we contribute to the development of music education practice.

patrick schmidtDon Wright Faculty of Music professor and Chair of Western’s Music Education Department Patrick Schmidt is giving music teachers a voice by conducting surveys and interviews with music teachers and arts supervisors across Ontario. He is asking them to share their experiences and stories on their current situation and the state of music education in Ontario.

nafme logoDr. Cathy Benedict and Dr. Patrick Schmidt presented alongside PhD Candidates Kelly Bylica, Kristine Musgrove and Gabriela Ocadiz, at the 2018 Biennial NAfME Conference in Atlanta, US. Their paper titled "Connected Insularity: On the limitations and Potentials of Intercultural Events," was selected for presentation at this highly competitive conference. The work is based on an international study abroad led by Benedict and Schmidt in Guatemala. The initial project was supported by a grant from Western’s International Centre, and the research connected to the project is supported by an Internal SSHRC Grant.

Dr. Benedict was also part of a panel celebrating the contributions of Paul Lehmann to the field of Music Education. She presented alongside Dr. Marie McCarthy, Dr. David Myers and Dr. Scott Schuller.

Music Education PhD candidate, Kelly Bylica also presented a poster entitled "Creative Trouble: Using Soundscapes to Challenge School Silencing," based on research that explored the role compositional soundscapes can play to open spaces for dialogue that promotes collective critical consciousness in the classroom.

anacrusis dec 2017 coverMaster of Music Education student Laura Curtis just got her first publication in Anacrusis, the Journal of Choral Canada. Laura’s article is titled "Sex hormones and the singing voice: the adverse effects of fertility treatments" and provides insight into an area of research that has a lot to contribute to both scholars and practicing vocalists and vocal pedagogues.

nordoff robbins logoElizabeth Mitchell, PhD Candidate, presented a paper jointly authored with Cathy Benedict, at the Nordoff Robbins Plus Research Conference in London, UK, Dec 9-10, 2017. Their paper was entitled: Lives in Dialogue: "On Music Education, Music Therapy, and Music."

musichildren 2017 logoOn October 21, 2017, Music Education PhD student, Kelly Bylica, presented at the First Annual MusiChildren Conference in Aveiro, Portugal. The conference brought together international perspectives from children, composers, performers, and educators on music created for and by children. Her paper, “Self-As-Creator: Exploring Composition and Self-Identity in Choral Music” explored the ways in which ensemble based education can engage in composition-based approaches to curriculum.

interlude 2017 logoOn November 3-4, 2017, several faculty and graduate students from the Music Education department presented at the Ontario Music Education Association Conference, Interlude 2017, in Huntsville. Dr. Colleen Richardson, presented a workshop session on Slow Repertoire for Wind Bands. Dr. Cathy Benedict, gave a workshop entitled "Works at What?" focusing on pedagogy and language, and Dr. Patrick Schmidt, presented the workshop entitled "Teaching critical thinking skills aurally and creatively."

Also presenting were Dr. Vanessa Mio, instructor of strings pedagogy at Western. Two PhD students, Laura Benjamins and Jen Hinkala, presented their research, respectively titled: “Musicians for life curriculum: Curriculum for the non-specialist educator” and “The music of self-care and wellbeing.” Dean Betty Anne Younker attended the conference and hosted a very well attended reception for graduates of the Don Wright Faculty of Music now teaching across Ontario.

ruth wrightIn September 2017, Dr. Ruth Wright gave the opening keynote address at the First Music Education Seminar in the O’Higgins Region of Chile, at the newly opened University of O’Higgins in Rancagua. Wright's address considered music education from the perspective of emancipatory social science as conceptualized by the sociologist Erik Olin Wright (2006) which he describes as relying upon three fundamental tasks: 1, to diagnose and critique the world as it exists; 2, to imagine realistic alternatives; and 3, to comprehend barriers to their implementation. In applying these to music education Wright questioned the ability of current models to afford flourishing musical lives to all members of society. She presented some potential alternative approaches to music education based on principles of radical democratic egalitarianism.

coming of age coverTwo Music Education faculty are contributing authors in the new book release entitled Coming of Age: Teaching and Learning Popular Music in Academia. The book published by University of Michigan’s Maize Publisher in edited by Dr. Carlos Rodriguez. The book draws standpoints from various music disciplines and presents a diverse and up-to-date view on the role and status of popular music education. Dr. Ruth Wright’s chapter is called “The Long Revolution and Popular Music Education: Or, Can Popular Music Education Change Society?” and Dr. Patrick Schmidt’s contribution is called “Popular Music Education as Educational Policy.”

laura curtisMasters in Music Education student, Laura Curtis, has been awarded second place in the 2017 CMEA/ACME Dr. Franklin Churchley Graduate Essay Competition. Laura’s essay, titled “The Gendering of Music: Breaking the Cycle,” discusses the ways in which socially-constructed gender norms play a role in children’s musical perceptions and choices, and some potential courses of action that may be taken by music educators to deconstruct these gender norms. As a winner of this national competition, Laura will have the opportunity to publish her essay in the Canadian Music Educator journal.

canadian journal of music therapyElizabeth Mitchell (PhD Candidate Music Education) recently had an article published in the Canadian Journal of Music Therapy. This paper, entitled "Therapeutic Music Education: An Emerging Model Linking Philosophies and Experiences of Music Education With Music Therapy” was based upon research she conducted during her masters studies in music therapy. To read the article follow this link:

conferenceThe 10th International Symposium on the Sociology of Music Education took place at Institute for Contemporary Music Performance June 11-14, 2017, in London England.

This academic conference drew together music education academics from around the world to discuss issues, practices and perspectives that focus around connecting music learning and other musicking experiences with the lives, values, identities and communities of those involved. The Don Wright Faculty of Music was well represented with the following presentations:

Cathy Benedict: “True Threat, True Promise: Recklessness as the New ‘Praxis’”.

Leslie Linton: “Interpreting and (Re)producing Children’s Musical Cultural Capital: The sociology of childhood and Bourdieu in elementary music education”.
Patrick Schmidt: “Musical Virtual Hangouts: Changing Policy and Social Capital Strategy for Community Engagement in a Major US Orchestra”.

Ruth Wright: “Envisioning Real Utopias in Music Education: The democratization of music as culture”.

Kari Veblen presented SSHRC funded research with fellow Canadian scholar Janice Waldron: “Canadian Scottish Pipe Bands as On and Offline Convergent Communities of Practice”.

PhD Music Education students:

Alison Butler: “Does Bourdieu Have the X Factor? Habitus and capital in reality TV and music education”.

Kelly Bylica and Gabriela Ocadiz: “Reading Popular Music: Musicking and thinking critically” .

Download the full schedule here (PDF).

ispmeThe International Society for the Philosophy of Music Education was founded at the Philosophy of Music Education International Symposium 5 at Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, Illinois, U.S.A., June 4-7, 2003 with Estelle Jorgensen (U.S.A.) and Frede Nielsen (Denmark) as co-chairs. Since 1990, nine international symposia have been held in Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A. (1990), Toronto, Canada (1994), Los Angeles, U.S.A. (1997), Birmingham, U.K. (2000), Lake Forest, Illinois, U.S.A. (2003), Hamburg, Germany (2005), London, Ontario, Canada (2007), Helsinki, Finland (2010) and New York, U.S.A (2013). These symposia have attracted philosophers, musicians, teachers, and others interested in the philosophy of music education from around the world to discuss important matters concerning music teaching and learning.

The 2017 symposium brought together a diverse array of international philosophers, scholars, teachers, teacher educators, and performers interested in engaging in philosophical research concerning music education. The symposium sought to encourage and stimulate discussion on a wide range of topics relating to the philosophy of music education from international and interdisciplinary perspectives.

Dean Betty Anne Younker responded to Paul Woodford’s paper “Harperland and American neoconservative disdain for music and the arts.”

Paul Woodford, also presented “On ‘The End of History’ and the Global Decline of Music Education.” (Woodford served as co-chair of the Executive Committee of ISPME from 2005 – 2007, which, in addition to his two year commitment to running the organization, included organizing and hosting the 2007 ISPME symposium here at Western University in 2007.)

Patrick Schmidt and Cathy Benedict sat on a panel with two other scholars from Greece and Sweden: Navigating Assessment: The Unending–And Unnervingly Narrow–Terrain. Benedict also responded to a paper written by Estelle Jorgensen and Iris Yob: “Metaphors for a change: A conversation about images of music education and social change.”

Ruth Wright was one of three panelists for the Music, Society, Education: Christopher Small revisited panel. Wright also responded to a paper by Cecilia Ferm-Almqvist: “How to become a guitar playing human being in the situation of ensemble courses – independent of sex; An episode of the pod-radio show Music and Equality.”

PhD Student Gabriela Ocadiz presented her paper: “Troubling Concepts of Coping: Uncomfortable Moments in Music Education”.

A pre-conference was held prior to the main conference in which PhD students could apply to work with a group of international professors on developing a philosophical argument. Two PhD students from Western were accepted to the workshop: Gabriela Ocadiz and Samuel Silva.

Western will be hosting this international conference in 2019.

desert skies pixPhD Students Kelly Bylica and Elizabeth Kinghorn recently presented at the Desert Skies Symposium on Research in Music Education which took place February 23-25, 2017 at Arizona State University and is one of the longest continuously running independent research forums of its kind in the United States. Kelly presented her paper "Approaches to Composition in a Middle School Choral Classroom", which explores the challenges and successes of the implementation of a composition-based choral curriculum in a diversely populated Midwestern middle school.

Elizabeth presented her paper, "Room Acoustics and the Singing Voice: The Effects of Environmental Reverberation on Vocal Intensity and the Perception of Vocal Effort in Trained Singers". This pilot project is the result of an interdisciplinary, collaborative effort between Kinghorn, Dr. Kevin Watson (Music Education) and Dr. Ewan Macpherson from National Centre for Audiology who identified definite trends in the ways in which singers in rooms with different amounts of perceptible reverberation are able to control vocal loudness/intensity, and established a workable methodology for future inquiry.
Photo credit: Mik Patton

Policy and the Political Life of Music EducationDr. Patrick Schmidt, chair of Music Education at Western University has just published a new book titled Policy and the Political Life of Music Education. Published by Oxford University Press, this is first book of its kind in the field of Music Education. It offers a far-reaching and innovative outlook, bringing together expert voices who provide a multifaceted and global set of insights into a critical arena for action today: policy. On one hand, the book helps the novice to make sense of what policy is, how it functions, and how it is discussed in various parts of the world; while on the other, it offers the experienced educator a set of critically written analyses that outline the state of the play of music education policy thinking. See more information here.

21st Century Music EducationThe Music Education Department is pleased to announce the upcoming release of 21st Century Music Education: Informal Learning and Non-Formal Teaching Approaches in School and Community Contexts edited by Dr. Ruth Wright and Dr. Betty Anne Younker, Dean of the Don Wright Faculty of Music. This book is being published by the Canadian Music Educators Association as part of their Biennial Series Research to Practice, featuring research from international contributors with a commitment to connect research to the practice of the profession. The book contains wonderful ideas to engage, include, and challenge learners and support professional development in music educators.

organizing equalityDr. Cathy Benedict and PhD students Alison Butler and Gabriela Ocadiz, from the Music Education Department at Western University, will be presenting at the Organizing Equality International Conference. This conference takes place March 24-26 2017, in London Ontario, and brings academics, artists and activists from around the globe to address inequality and develop new forms of knowing, thinking and acting together. This collaborative session focuses on the topic ‘Music: Transformative or Reproductive’, suggesting that social change, resistance and challenging the status quo doesn't happen simply through the notion that music crosses all boundaries as a "universal language", but through mindful, critical and interrogative problematizing. These three educators, from three different countries, will discuss different ways in which music education, without critical reflection, can reproduce assumptions, misconceptions and generalizations about race, socioeconomic status and gender within society. Giving the context of Arts Education, they hope participants walk away able to recognize that the theme, “organizing strategies” depends on interrogating assumptions and realizing shared values even with something as seemingly obvious as music.

fmea logoOn January 11 to 14, 2017, Music Education PhD Student, Kristine Musgrove, presented at the Florida Music Education Association Conference in Tampa, FL, USA. Her presentation was entitled: "Utilizing Music Technology in Today's Classroom".

Here is a summary of the topic: Technology is a prominent factor in the lives of most people today. As music teachers, it is important that we place ourselves ahead of the curve, in fact, one may argue it is a matter of professional development and part of a commitment to keeping ourselves educated, constantly seeking new ways to integrate technology-driven ideas and practices into the classroom. In order to accomplish this task, music educators should attempt to remain up to date on new technologies and then analyze how these technologies fit into their current curriculum to enhance learning.

city of londonThere is a strong purple presence on London Mayor Matt Brown's annual Honour List for this past year as former staff members Susan Grindrod and Therese Quigley, along with former emeritus Joseph Cummins, Don Wright Faculty of Music lecturer Dale Yoshida and alumna Sandra Miller, MLIS'01, have been recognized for their community involvement. "Today we celebrate some remarkable London Leaders," said Brown. "On behalf of all of council, congratulations to each of you and thank you - your significant contributions are all examples of us working together to build a better city for all."

conferenceFour of the Music Education PhD students have been selected to present at prestigious international conferences in 2017. Alison Butler (PhD Year 2) will be presenting at the Musical Cultures Conference in Hull, UK. Her paper is entitled: "'It's been an incredible journey': The presentation of social class in TV music talent shows, and its impact on music education". Butler's paper looks at how television music talent shows, such as X Factor, are a major subgenre within Reality TV Programmes (RTV), and have become a significant part of 21st century contemporary culture. She investigates the ways in which RTV's classifications (Morley, 2009) and journeys influence young people's musical journeys in their own realities. Kelly Bylica (PhD Year 1) and Elizabeth Kinghorn (PhD Year 2) have both been accepted to present at the Desert Skies Conference in Arizona, USA. Bylica's paper is entitled "Approaches to Composition in a Middle School Choral Classroom". Based on ideas around musicking (Small), community building (Jorgenson), and deep connections (Greene), this paper explores the challenges and successes of a composition-based choral curriculum. Kinghorn's paper is entitled: "Room Acoustics and the Singing Voice: The effects of environmental reverberation an vocal intensity and the perception of vocal effort in trained singers". Kristine Musgrove (PhD Year 1) has been accepted to present at the Florida Music Educators Association Conference (FMEA) in Tampa, Florida. Musgrove's presentation is entitled: "Utilizing Music Technology in Today's Classroom". 

music festivalOn November 8, 2016, Masters of Music in Education student Patrick Feely adjudicated all levels of competitors in both the classical and popular guitar categories at the Burlington Rotary Music Festival. The festival provides an opportunity for amateur musicians to achieve excellence in their art, and assists the participants in developing character, discipline, logical thinking and perception through musical performance and competition. 

new directions and vision conferenceOn November 2 to 5, 2016, members of the Music Education Department at Western University presented their research in China at the New Directions and Visions Conference in the City of Xiamen, in Southern China. The highly selective conference brought together scholars from around the globe. Western University was the only Canadian University represented at the event. Dean Betty Anne Younker presented on "Systematic Changes to Degree Programs in Music", Director of Research Cathy Benedict presented on "Works at What? The Purpose of Music Education" and Music Education Chair Patrick Schmidt presented on "Creating Policy Framing Capacity: Models for Change in Music Teacher Education". 

jazz ensembleOn November 11, 2016, Dr. Kevin Watson led the Don Wright Faculty of Music's Jazz Ensemble through a very successful concert to a full house at The Wolf Theatre. Dr. Watson's expertise on Jazz Pedagogy and Improvisation is evident in the way in which students engage with the repertoire and how they perform as an ensemble. The quality of the learning experiences are evident in the sound of the group but also, and particularly, in the manner in which they engage in music making and how they interact with each other. Dr. Watson provides us with a wonderful example of how scholarship intersects practice."

amta conferenceOn November 11, 2016, Elizabeth Mitchell presented at the American Music Therapy Association conference in Sandusky, Ohio. The presentation was entitled "The Coffee House: Building Self-Identities through Participatory Performance in Adolescent Mental Health." Through the narratives of youths and staff members, this case study examined the "Coffee House", a community music therapy event at an adolescent mental health facility. This research validates the role of performance in music therapy from a resource-oriented and music-centered perspective.

music careOn October 12, 2016, Music Education PhD Candidate Elizabeth Mitchell presented the web seminar entitled "Community Music Therapy & Performance in Adolescent Mental Health". The webinar is part of an initiative by the group Room 217 Care through Music, an organization that provides various education opportunities pertaining to intersections between music and healthcare.

cmceOn October 4, 2016, Dr. Patrick Schmidt presents alongside panelists at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education addressing issues of Social Justice in the Arts and Music. The international panel will discuss the current challenges and opportunities of the current political moment as they relate to social justice work within the arts.

ismeThe Don Wright Faculty of Music's chair of Music Education & Dance, Patrick Schmidt, was recently elected to the board of directors of the International Society for Music Education (ISME). Schmidt was elected at the ISME 2016 General Assembly and will serve on the board for the 2016-2018 biennium. The new board was announced July 28, 2016.  

rimeconferenceAssociate Professor Dr. Ruth Wright has been invited to deliver a keynote speech for the next Research in Music Education (RIME) conference to take place in Bath Spa, England in April 2017.  Click here to find out more information.


On August 1 2016, a new issue of the Philosophy of Music Education Review (PMER) Journal was published with a contribution by Dr. Patrick Schmidt, Chair of Music education entitled: “Authority and Pedagogy as Framing”. 


During the month of July 2016, 10 Don Wright Faculty of Music music education professors have been accepted to present at the prestigious biennial International Society for Music Education (ISME) Conference held this year in Glasgow. Prior to the main conference many of these professors will also be presenting at two different commissions: Policy (Birmingham, England) and Community Music (Edinburgh, Scotland).

ISME was founded in Brussels in 1953 during the UNESCO sponsored conference on "The Role and Place of Music in the Education of Youth and Adults." ISME's mission is to build a worldwide network of music educators, to advocate music education globally and across the lifespan, and to foster intercultural understanding and cooperation. The following were contributions from Western’s Music Education Faculty and Graduate Students:

Patrick Schmidt, as Chair of the Commission on Policy: Culture, Education and Media will be attending meetings throughout the conference as well as chairing and presenting at several events.

Patrick Schmidt and Ruth Wright: "The labour market for music workers in the new millennium:  Policies, Realities, Practices".

Betty-Anne Younker, Patrick Schmidt, Stephanie Horsley: "Music Teacher Education and Policy Reform:  Quality, Employability or Labor Crunch?"

Kevin Watson and Peter Miksa: "The Effects of Physical Practice, Mental Practice, and Mental Imagery on Performance of an Improvised Jazz Solo".

Ruth Wright and Jennifer Lang: "Transforming habitus through informal music learning: A case study in a Canadian First Nations School".

Cathy Benedict and Alison Butler (doctoral student): "The Rhetoric of Inequality: Leaving No Child Behind because Everyone Child Matters".

Paul WoodfordPatrick Schmidt and Cathy Benedict: "Understanding Social Justice in Music Education: International Voices".

Kari Veblen: Panel Presentation: Policies and Practices in Community Music: International Perspectives

Kari Veblen and Nathan Kruse: 
"Children’s Clapping Games on the Virtual Playground".

Kari Veblen and Janice Waldron: 
"'Will Ye Nae Come Back Again?': Scots Pipe Bands as community music in Ontario, Canada".

Stephanie Horsley and Kari Veblen: “'Stranger in the Crowd': Performer Learning, Mentoring, and Fellowship at Tribute Artist Festivals


Leslie Linton: "Engaged and interactive listening: Where do our ears go during a performance? Learners as Teachers in the Grade One Classroom".

Leslie Linton and Danielle Sirek: "Music for a purpose, or a purpose for music? Exploring empathy, social justice, and critical pedagogy from research to practice in the elementary music classroom".

Lorna Wanzel, Leslie Linton, Patricia Frehlich, Vanessa Cornett and Amy Rose Immerman: "Portraits of Innovative Independent Music Teachers in North America".

Alison Butler: "Informal to Formal: Learner and teacher reflections on the transition to formal instrumental tuition within the English education system".

Jennifer Gowan: "Aboriginal Voices: Realigning Inclusivity and Informal Music Learning".

Elizabeth Mitchell: "Performance, Identity, and the Coffee House: Community Music Therapy at an Adolescent Mental Health Facility".

Elizabeth Kinghorn: "The effects of different acoustic environments on vocal intensity and perceived vocal effort in classically trained singers".

college music society

From June 3 to 5, 2016, the College Music Society hosted Summit 2016. The theme of the Summit was 21st Century Music School Design, a current and important issue on the minds of faculty, administrators and students across North America. Under the leadership of CMS president—and Dean of the Don Wright Faculty of Music—Betty Anne Younker and in partnership with the University of South Carolina’s School of Music, the Summit brought together over 200 deans, directors, and faculty from universities in the US, Canada (9), Europe and Australia. In attendance representing Western University were Patrick Schmidt and John Cuciurean who were integral participants in the discussions. The event was propelled by an innovative format, collaborative sessions, and the collective development of re-designed undergraduate degrees for Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Music Education. This dialogue reflects one aspect of the Society's mission, which is to provide spaces for concentrated dialogue and reflection on a topic, this one being an extension of the CMS Undergraduate Task Force report, which was completed under the previous president's direction. The Summit’s success was a clear demonstration of CMS's vision, the vision of the Program Chair, David Cutler, and Dean Younker’s leadership and highlighted how closely and seriously music schools across North America and elsewhere are looking at curricular and programmatic change.


April 2016 was a big month for Elizabeth Mitchell, a PhD candidate in the Music Education Department at Western University. Not only she has just received nomination for a Juno Award, alongside her choral group, but she also published an article on Mayday Group’s new Journal TOPICS. The article is entitled: "Arts Express: Performance, Community, and Creativity for Children with Exceptionalities". You can find it here:


In March 2016, Professor Kari Veblen published one of the inaugural articles of the Mayday Group’s new journal TOPICS. You can find and read her article here:

ontario music educators assoc

In February 2016, Assistant Professor Kevin Watson was nominated and appointed as the Higher Education Representative to the Ontario Music Educator Association’s (OMEA) Board of Directors. He replaces long-serving, Western alumnus, Roger Beatty.

social justice in music education

On December 2015, Oxford University Press released the Oxford Handbook on Music Education and Social Justice was released. The first publication of its kind and a reference for this field of research in music education, the Handbook was coedited by three Music Education Faculty at Western: Dr. Cathy Benedict, Dr. Patrick Schmidt, and Dr. Paul Woodford.