The College of Arts and Architecture
  • Yo-Jung Han presents a poster at PMEA Conference

Ph.D. Students


The completion of a Ph.D. is a major undertaking. The route to the degree is individualized and complex. Therefore, any attempt to describe a complete program is, at best, superficial. The attempt here is to provide an overview of the components of the Ph.D. program and the typical sequence for completion.

This document should be considered an unofficial statement of policy. Official policy is stated in the Graduate Degree Programs Bulletin and the School of Music Graduate Handbook. These later documents supersede this handbook in all instances. Students are ultimately responsible for becoming informed about and fulfilling all program requirements. They are urged to familiarize themselves with all three documents and to confer frequently with their assigned advisor to assure that all expectations of the program are met and that the appropriate sequence is followed.

Program and Admisson Information

Current Ph.D. Students | Student Research

Recent Graduates:

Lauren Kooistra, (2013), is currently serving in a Post-Doc possition as Assistant Director for the Penn State Institute of Arts and Humanities. Kooistra holds a B.M. in Piano Performance from Gordon College and a M.M. in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from Westminster Choir College. She has been on the piano faculty of Westminister Conservatory in Princeton, N. J., the State Street Academy of Music in Harrisburg, PA, and Messiah College in PA. Her teachers include Samuel Dilworth-Leslie, Wanda Maximilien, Alina Polyakov, Ingrid Clarfield, and Steven Smith.

Nancy Beitler, (2012) has taught at the Southern Lehigh Middle School since the fall of 2000.  Prior to coming to SLMS, Dr. Beitler taught instrumental and general music in various schools in the Lehigh Valley area. Her research interests include the use of creative activities - improvisation and composition - in the instrumental music classroom as well as the reflective practices of students and teachers. Making excellent music with middle school children is Dr. Beitler greatest passion.  She also enjoys time with her family, camping and canoeing, reading and knitting.

R. Kenneth Docker, (2012) currently holds a position as Assistant Professor of Music Education at the University of Arkansas while finishing up his final dissertation document. His work at Penn State focused on strings/orchestral teaching, with a cognate in Sociology. He holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in Music Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Docker taught string orchestra for ten years at the elementary, middle and high school levels in Title 1 public schools in Virginia and Pennsylvania. He has also served on the music education faculty at the UNC Greensboro School of Music. Mr. Docker has studied cello with Stephan Ballou, Elizabeth Anderson and Kim Cook. He has performed as principal cellist with the Altoona (Pennsylvania) Symphony Orchestra, and has also performed with the Lynchburg (Virginia) Symphony Orchestra, The Broach Theatre Company, and several chamber groups.

His present research interests include Music teacher job satisfaction in high-poverty urban schools, music program support and funding in Title 1 schools.

Yi-Ting Huang, (2012) grew up in Taiwan. She received her Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the National Taipei University of Education, and a Master of Arts in Music Education from the Michigan State University. She taught in public school for four and a half years. Her teaching experience includes grades 1-6 general music, ensembles, choral music, and classroom teacher position, as well as early childhood music in a community school.Lauren's cognate is Child Development and Learning Theory. Her research focuses on developmentally appropriate piano lesson experiences for young children aged 3-5.

Yi-Ting's focus is on general music, early childhood music, assessment, and the application of multicultural music to education. She is also interested in flute pedagogy. She earned teaching certificates in Early Childhood Music from The Gordon Institute for Music Learning, and in Flute Teaching Training from Suzuki Association of the Americas. 

Elizabeth Guerriero, (2011) is an adjunct assistant professor in music education at Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, NJ. Ms. Guerriero received the Masters of Music in Violin Performance and Suzuki Pedagogy from the University of Denver and a Bachelors of Music, Violin Performance from the Hartt School. Principal Violin and Pedagogy Teachers are James Lyon, Katie Lansdale, James Maurer, Brian Lewis, Linda Fiore and Charles Castleman. 

Upon winning the 2003 MTNA Graduating Teacher Award at the University of Denver, Ms. Guerriero accepted the postion to direct the Suzuki Academy of the Friends School of Mullica Hill as well as direct the instrumental music program there.   Ms. Guerriero has also taught at the Kimberton Waldorf School, and has an extensive early childhood background.   Clinician, 2005, 2006 PMEA Regional Teacher Workshops, NJ Regional Orchestra, Greater Philadelphia Violin Workshop.

Ms. Guerriero's research interests include laterality in instrumental music and application of Suzuki method to public school instrumental programs.

David Knauss, (2011) is teaching undergraduate and graduate music education methods, American music history, and philosophy of music education at Baptist Bible College, Clarks Summit, PA.  His combined teaching experience includes 35 years in public schools and college at Williamsport Area Schools, Mansfield University, and Baptist Bible College.  He has received degrees and certifications from West Chester University, Mansfield University, Central Connecticut State University, Western Carolina University, and Memphis State University. As a composer, sacred music improviser, and classroom music curriculum writer, Dave’s research interests include melodic structure (Meyer’s melodic schemata) and melodic perception (Krumhansl’s tonal hierarchy), and why certain melodies and jingles seem to be memorable while others do not.

Current Ph.D. Students:


Jason B. Gossett: ABD, holds a Bachelors of Music Education and a Masters of Music Education from Murray State University.  Jason has been a band director in Kentucky for 10 years. Bands under his tutelage have consistently received superior rating at concert and marching festivals.  His bands have continually performed at State Marching Festival Semi-Finals and Finals. Jason's research interests include criteria for literature selection in instrumental ensembles, and the pedagogical role of the instrumental ensemble.  He is a member of MENC, SMTE, and ISME.

Yu-Chen Lin, ABD, joined PSU in 2007 and is a currently full-time Ph.D. Candidate with cognate of early childhood and related cultural issues. She received a Master in Music Education degree from Columbia University, New York and a Bachelor's degree with French Horn major and Piano minor from National Taipei University of Arts, Taipei. Yu-Chen taught music appreciation, musicianship, Chinese chamber music at Hua-Kwang High School of Arts, coached group French horn classes at high and elementary schools, and instructed applied piano and French horn lessons in Taipei for years. In New York City, Yu-Chen was a piano instructor at Columbia University and music teacher at B.B.C. Music School of Manhattan for classes “Music and Movement”, “Dalcroze for children” and “Mommy and Me”. As Yu-Chen’s interests revolve in early childhood and multiculturalism, her research concerns include young children’s spontaneous music making, young children and multiculturalism, and the incorporation of world music into early childhood music curriculum.

Don Schade: ABD, received a B.M. in Music Education (vocal concentrate) and a B.M. in Percussion Performance from Susquehanna University. Don has studied percussion with Dennis Kain, Donald Kuehn, Stanley Leonard, Saul Goodman, and Dr. Richard Gipson.  He then continued his study at Penn State where he earned his M.M. in Conducting.  Don has enjoyed a long career as a secondary choral and band director in Pennsylvania while serving as an adjunct choral conductor at Franklin and Marshall College and Susquehanna University. He has also held various offices with the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA).  In 1992, Don received the “Leadership Award” from PMEA and an award for “Teaching Excellence” from the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce. After returning to Penn State, he has assisted with methods courses, conducting courses, choirs while pursing a choral cognated focused on vocal/choral pedagogy.  His professional affiliations are ACDA, PMEA, NAfME, ChorusAmerica, IFCM, ISME, NATS, and PSEA.

Theresa Yerger: ABD , received her B.M. in Vocal Performance from Susquehanna University and her M.M. in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy and K-12 Music Teacher Certification from Penn State.  She taught K-3 and 6-8 general choral music and has maintained a private studio in PA.  She also was the musical and staging director for the Central PA Youth Opera and has performed for such organizations as the Bay View Summer Music Conservatory (MI), the Harrisburg Opera Association, and the Altoona Symphony. Teri's cognate is Curriculum with a focus on secondary general and choral music. She supervised student teachers and taught the courses Music for the Classroom Teacher and Care and Nurture of Young Singing Voices.  Her present research interests include in-school and out-of-school music experiences available for middle school students, the participation rate of these students within such experiences, and the music preferences of these students within relation to in-school and out-of-school settings. Professional affiliations include ACDA, CMS, CREME, MENC, PMEA, and SMTE.


Mara E. Culp: Ph.D. candidate, earned a Bachelor’s of Music Education from Siena Heights University in Adrian, MI in 2007 and a Master’s Degree in Music Education from Penn State in 2013. She taught K-12 general, choral and instrumental music in MI for five years. Her experiences teaching elementary general music students with speech impairments led to her primary research interest in speech acquisition through vocal music experiences for young children. She has presented original research across the country at state, national, and international conferences; presented as an invited lecturer in the Communication Sciences and Disorders department at Penn State; and has published work related to improving speech sounds using music in the Orff Echo.

Gregory Drane: Ph.D. candidate, earned a Bachelor degrees in Music Education and Music Performance from Bethune-Cookman University.  Upon completion of his Master of Music Education degree at Penn State, Greg became the Assistant Director of Athletic Bands and an Instructor of Music at Penn State.  With over ten years of collegiate teaching experience, Drane is in direct contact with over five hundred students annually through teaching general arts music courses, assisting with the marching band, directing various pep bands, and conducting non-major concert bands.  His current research interests involve historical research specifically exploring African-American contributions to music education. 

Steve Fairbanks: University Graduate Fellow, 2014-15. Bio forthcoming.

Lindsay Fulcher: Ph.D. candidate, earned her Bachelor of Music Education from Baldwin Wallace University where she worked as an assistant to Professor Laura Joss, Music Ed Department Chair, and helped run an after-school violin program for elementary students in inner city Cleveland. At Penn State, she is simultaneously completing the final course of her Masters in Music Education and working through Ph.D. coursework. Before Penn State she taught high school orchestra in North Carolina where her students earned high ratings at local, national, and international festivals. She keeps a small private studio in Pennsylvania and performs regularly on viola. Lindsay’s research interests include music technology, online collaboration, string techniques, and female leadership in music. At Penn State she is a co-teacher, with Dr. Robert Gardner, of string techniques for undergraduate music education majors. She is a teaching assistant to all the other professors in the department through the sequence of music education courses taken by the juniors. She is also a research assistant to Dr. Gardner. Professional affiliations include ASTA, NAfME, and PMEA. 

Yo-jung Han: Ph.D. candidate, received her B.M. in Music Education (Piano concentration) from Konkuk University with a full scholarship and extra grant. She earned her M.A. in Music Education from Seoul National University in South Korea and her MME from Penn State. She taught general music in public middle schools in Seoul for 6 and half years. She has worked as a conductor, pianist and organist. Yo-jung’s current research interests include cognitive processes in learning from multiple representations and mental imagery triggered by music. She served as a secretary in the 2nd International Conference of Asia Pacific Society for the Cognitive Science of Music (APSCOM2). Han has presented at the state, national, and international levels.

MacKinlay S. Himes: bio forthcoming.

Anne-Marie Hildebrandt: Ph.D. candidate, bio forthcoming.

Daniel J. Shevock: ABD, taught in public schools for twelve years in Pennsylvania and Maryland.  His experience as an urban music teacher awakened a concern for issues of democratic education, creativity, and social justice.  Dan musics on the vibraphone and drums, and is an ardent reader.  His research interests include confident music improvising, practicing music improvisation, democratic teaching practices, social philosophy, and critical theory.  Dan has published research in Music Educators Journal and PMEA News, and has presented in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois, Nebraska, Michigan, New Jersey, and Ireland.  Dan’s degrees are from Clarion University of Pennsylvania (B.S.Ed. 1997), and Towson University (M.S. 2000) and he is a passionate member of NAfME, PMEA, and the MayDay Group.

Krissie Weimer: Ph.D. candidate, is a University Graduate Fellowship recipient. Prior to Penn State she was a Graduate Assistant at West Virginia University while earning a Masters of Music Education degree. She has taught and assisted in courses relating to woodwind and brass pedagogy, guitar, and instrumental methods at the collegiate level. She taught middle school band, general music and elementary general music in Maryland and early childhood music and special education (behavior disorders) in West Virginia. Her research interests include mentoring novice music teachers, professional development, supervision, and leadership. She has been published in Visions of Research in Music Education and is a member of NAfME, PMEA, and SMTE.

Student Research:

Lindsay Fulcher

Online Musical Collaboration for High School String Students

As a string player and orchestra teacher, I am particularly interested in how string students who already collaborate in place might view using technology to collaborate musically (not in the same place). Which environments do they enjoy using and why? Do they enjoy collaborating synchronously or asynchronously and why? Most importantly, are string students from existing chamber groups interested in forming online communities of interest? The purpose of this study is to observe how high school string players, from an existing chamber group, view online music collaboration. The students will collaborate online, outside of class, and share their opinions through journals and interviews. With this information I hope to inform K-12 string teachers and help them encourage their students to continue the musical experience online, outside of class. This project is in progress and will be presented in April, 2013.

Jason Gossett

Values in/as action: Band Director Decision-Making viewed through an ethical lens

This research focuses on how a band director's values regarding the pedagogical purpose of band play important roles when making decisions. Directors continually weigh factors of student learning, ensemble achievement, and community responsibilities as they deliberate on decisions made for the band. The decisions made by directors exhibit ethical beliefs. Previous research has focused on instances of ethical dilemmas but little research has been done to examine how decisions represent ethical orientations to the pedagogy of band. Using the ethic of justice, critique, care, and the profession, I will analyze director's decisions in an effort to elicit values and beliefs regarding music education and band.

Yo-jung Han

The effect of visually presented lyrics in music instruction on song learning (in-progress)

When a song is sung, both the tune and lyrics are processed as auditory information. While teaching a song if we show the lyrics using a sheet or on the screen, the verbal information might be processed visually and aurally. This dual-channel processing may facilitate the auditory information processing because it might reduce cognitive load in the aural channel. In contrast, the visually presented lyrics might interfere with the auditory information processing since the learners might pay more attention to the verbal information due to visual dominance effect.  Therefore, the purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of visually presented lyrics in music instruction on song learning. Specifically,

  1. Is there difference between song learning with and without visually presented lyrics?
  2. How do music audiation skills, phonological working memory and cognitive load relate to the results?
  3. Is there difference between singing with and without lyrics?

Sixty undergraduate students in the auditioned choirs will be invited to participate in this quasi-experimental posttest only study. While learning unfamiliar songs in class, one group will see the lyrics on the screen and another group will not see the lyrics. After instruction, the students will be asked to sing the learned songs individually with and without lyrics. Their singing accuracy in terms of melody and lyrics will be used as an indicator of song learning. Additionally, a musical aptitude test, a phonological working memory test and a mental effort report will be employed.

Yu-Chen Lin 

Chinese Lion Dance in a Chinese American Community of New York City.

Embedding multicultural music in music curriculum and creating integrative arts experiences for children have been one of important issues for teacher training (Kindler, 1987; Campbell, 2002). Lion Dance is a Chinese traditional art, which represents a symbol of protecting power and good fortune in Chinese culture. This integrated art, usually performed with colorful customs (visual arts), martial arts (dance), and drumming ensemble (music), has gained a great popularity in Chinese American communities in United States. The purpose of this qualitative study is to investigate the practice of Chinese Lion Dance (CLD) in a Chinese American community in New York City. In this study, the author emphasizes on the process of integrative arts learning and teaching, enculturated pedagogy and cultural identity. The guiding questions for the ethnographic study are: 1) what is the teaching philosophy of the CLD teachers hold in teaching the traditional art form in United States? 2) What is the process of teaching CLD and lougu music? 3) What are the CLD teacher’s perspectives on the challenges and benefits of teaching in New York City? Data was collected through field notes, interviews, and video recording for this in-progress study. In examining resources for multicultural music education and integrative arts education, teachers need to find ways to use materials in meaningful ways with students and consider issues of authenticity in terms of contextual fit, method of teaching and performance practice. This study is attempted to lead teachers to a better understanding of how a traditional integrative art survived and operated in a community outside of its origin and to inspire music educators in planning multicultural music education in classrooms.

Don Schade

A Comparison of Program Content in high School Choral Programs 2001 - 2011

The purpose of this study was to determine whether high school concert choir repertoire has changed over the ten-year period between 2001 and 2011 in District #7 of the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA).  Specifically, did the number of western art music, popular music, and multicultural music selections change during this time period. The research questions were:  (a) What is the percentage of multicultural, popular, and western art music selections programmed for high school concert choir in 2001 and 2011?  Have these relative percentages changed in that ten-year period?  (b) What are the most often performed pieces of western art music, popular music, and multicultural music in concert choir programs each year? (c) Do the relative percentages of music selection types differ among urban, suburban and rural schools in 2001 and 2011? In this quantitative study, high school choral directors with ten or more years of experience were sampled because the researcher wanted to compare the program selections made by those same directors after the ten-year period in which literature suggested that the inclusion of popular and multicultural music teaching was increasing, and popular and multicultural music had become more commercially available. Results surprisingly indicated that the amount of western art music being used in spring concert choir programs increased while popular and multicultural music decreased. No pieces (favorites) were used more often than any others.  Of the three schools identified as culturally diverse, only one used more multicultural music than any other music type in both 2001 and 2011.  The researcher suggests future studies expanding the population first to all directors in the same PMEA district, then a study to include all directors in the state of Pennsylvania.

Daniel J. Shevock

Defining Confident Music Improvisation: Perceptions Among University Improvisation Teachers

Our society values creativity in education. Confidence might be important to music improvisation, a significant creative musical act. Research literature seems to be void of a definition for confidence in improvisation. The present research represents the author’s third study examining confident music improvisation. Essential themes emerging from the previous study—listening, criticism-free environment, sequential experiences, passion for a style, and openness to learning—were used to explore gender. The primary purpose of this study was to define confidence as it relates to music improvisation. A second purpose was to identify gender differences in descriptions of confident music improvisation. The researcher randomly sampled university jazz, improvisation ensemble, and organ teachers (n=76), employing open-ended questions. Using open, axial, and theoretical coding, he crafted a theoretical definition. Confident music improvisation was defined as a complex process, a direct and sequential link of knowledge about music, with playing with authority, with flow. Gender differences in descriptions using essential themes—listening and openness to learning—arose. Overwhelmingly, confidence was labeled important to music improvisation. 

Theresa Yerger 

Is Current Music Teacher Education Curriculum Current? 

Within music education literature, professors of music teacher education programs have voiced concerns about the following perceived deficiencies of music teacher education programs: (a) multiculturalism (Belz, 2006; Okun, 1998), (b) lack of focus on current popular music (Campbell & Clements, 2006), (c) emphasis on specific pedagogical skills versus performance skills (Hamilton, Murphy, & Thornton, 2004; Henry & Rohwer, 2004; Wollenzien, 1999), (d) elementary general music methodology specialization (Brophy, 2002; Spurgeon, 2004), and (e) inclusion of current technology within the music classroom (Walls, 2000). The purpose of this descriptive study was to gather the thoughts and opinions of current K-12 music educators regarding the ways in which their music teacher education programs prepared the educators to teach today’s K-12 diverse student population. Data was gathered through an on-line, researcher devised questionnaire and was completed by new American K-12 music educators (N=61). The author found that the K-12 music educators who participated in the study appeared to agree with previous research about the five deficiencies of course offerings and teaching experiences within present NASM accredited music education undergraduate/certification training programs. Additionally, many of the K-12 music educators also appeared to indicate a preference for an increase in the amount of dance/movement training offered within (a) music teacher education training programs, and (b) K-12 music programs.