School of Music News

New vocal jazz program adds class offerings
By Christy Rosell

KEEPING JAZZ ALIVE Kristin Houston KSU jazz ambassador - Header Photo

Kristin Houston became a jazz ambassador last year. She started college with dreams of writing film scores. But everything changed during a Kennesaw State University trip to Italy with Steve Dancz, a music instructor. 

“He introduced me to jazz,” she remembered. “I fell in love with the art.”

A Count Basie Orchestra performance featuring Grammy-award winning singer Carmen Bradford “solidified everything” in her pursuit of jazz.
KEEPING JAZZ ALIVE Kristin Houston KSU jazz ambassador - Photo page body-1Houston will be among the first to graduate from KSU with a degree in Jazz Voice in 2019. She studies under Karla Harris, who helped launch the program last year and is offering a new vocal jazz combo class in fall 2018.

“This class will be an opportunity to work as a group to practice elements of singing jazz,” said Harris, a vocal jazz instructor.  “Students will learn the importance of musical conversation.”

Harris has an extensive background as a jazz vocalist, working with some of the best musicians in the thriving jazz scenes of St. Louis, Missouri, and Portland, Oregon. In 2012, she began performing across the Southeast. She released an album in 2015 featuring songs by jazz legends Dave and Iola Brubeck.

Now, she shares her lessons in performance and music entrepreneurship, preparing students to carry on the legacy of jazz.                        

The significance is not lost on Houston.

“It’s important to American culture to keep this art form alive,” Houston said. “It’s one of the only art forms that is originally ours.”

KEEPING JAZZ ALIVE Kristin Houston KSU jazz ambassador - page photo-2Houston said Harris is a great example of the teacher she hopes to become herself. “She’s an amazing performer and educator; her instruction will help me get to that point one day, as well,” she said.

Houston takes solo vocal lessons and expects the new vocal jazz combo class to teach her to collaborate with other vocalists. While Houston is focused on preparing for graduation next spring, her instructor predicts a bright future.

“Kristin will do what she's setting out to do,” Harris said. “Her time at KSU has obviously developed her skills and character.”

Harris lights up when she thinks about KSU’s jazz vocal students, “I look out and I just see possibilities. There’s so much potential. The spirit and the energy at KSU are very real.”


KSU_Music Harry Price 2018 Senior Researcher Award
Harry E. Price

Beethoven is credited with saying “Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.” With that, we could stop right now, but that would make this talk a bit too short.

It is important to begin by recognizing some important people. I appreciate the National Executive Board of NAfME, the Music Education Research Council and its Executive Committee, as well as all the members of the Society for Research in Music Education for supporting my nomination. I especially want to thank my skilled col-league and friend Deborah Confredo. She wrote a remarkable nomination letter for this award. It is an honor for me to be named among this award’s previous recipients.

As an undergraduate in the early 1970s, I assisted a doctoral student, Michael Wagner. My job was as a “technology” aide to him. At that time, our job was mostly to make sure that the stereos were hooked up and the power cords were plugged in. Yes, this was the time of phonograph players, a little machine that was about this size that turned around and around, on which you placed a vinyl disk, and a needle sat on it to transfer the waveforms through an amplifier to speakers. We also made sure that the equipment was turned on, a problem many times. Mike helped me to begin think-ing about music education and how it does or does not function. Along with this work, I also helped some other doctoral students with technology in their research.

In my master’s work, Clifford Madsen directed the thesis. Later, after teaching a bit, I was fortunate to work with Cornelia Yarbrough on my doctorate and beyond; strangely, I assisted her with some technology when she worked on her dissertation. Cornelia taught me a great deal about education, research, and life in general. She is responsible for so many good things that have happened to me. without our wonderful mentors? As for the not-so-successful things that have occurred in my career, those are due to my continued stubbornness.

My colleagues over the years have been so helpful. At Virginia Tech, I was able to further develop my research skills—even as the marching band director. By the way, Jere Humphreys (2006) stated that the ancient Romans fielded marching bands, so I guess I was doing historical research when I was there. Of course, there were the many positive years at the University of Alabama, which was incredibly supportive of my research. Finally, there were many wonderful undergraduate and graduate students in my almost 40 years of teaching. How rewarding it has been for the students and me to share working on papers together! Interestingly, I worked quite a while ago with one of my students, Evelyn K. Orman, and now am assisting her fine research on virtual reality, efforts that she has pursued for more than 18 years (Orman, Whitaker, Price, & Confredo, 2017). In this case, the teacher can also become the student.

Read more about Harry Price in the Journal of Research in Music Education.

Download the full article here.

School of Music Welcomes Return of Faculty, Staff, and Students for 2016-17 Academic Year

Kennesaw, GA (August 16, 2016)–– The KSU School of Music held its annual Fall semester student convocation today in Morgan Concert Hall welcoming students, faculty, and staff back to campus for the start the 2016-17 academic year.

Following a welcome and introduction by School of Music Director Dr. Stephen Plate, today’s meeting kicked off with a special performance featuring Senior Music Education student Mark Fucito performing Rudolf Haken’s Serenade for a Flugelhorn and Piano accompanied by KSU collaborative pianist Judy Cole.

As of the beginning of this semester, the School of Music is home to a total of 243 students, including 66 new music majors and 8 new music minors beginning school this semester. Of these students, 13% are pursuing Bachelor of Arts in Music (B.A.) degrees, 51% are pursuing Bachelor of Music in Music Education (B.M.) degrees, and 39% are pursuing Bachelor of Music Performance (B.M.) degrees.

In addition to new students, the School of Music also welcomes several new faculty and staff members beginning this academic year:

  • Stephanie Adrian, Part-Time Assistant Professor of Voice
  • Andrew Brady, Artist-in-Residence in Bassoon
  • Anna Dodd, Artist-in-Residence in Horn
  • Tyrone Jackson, Lecturer in Jazz Piano
  • Rob Opitz, Artist-in-Residence in Jazz Trumpet
  • Cecilia Price, Part-time Assistant Professor of Music
  • Christopher Thibdeau, Limited Term Assistant Professor of Music Education
  • Luke Weathington, Artist-in-Residence in Saxophone
  • Nathan Zgonc, Artist-in-Residence in Trombone
  • Erik Kosman, Technical Coordinator
  • Shawn Rieschl Johnson, Operations Manager

In an exciting announcement, Professor John Lawless (Director of Percussion Studies) unveiled a new set of Adams Timpani. Lawless described this exciting addition to the School of Music’s instrument inventory saying “These timpani would be at home on stage with the world’s greatest orchestras, and now we have a set. These drums will fundementally change the sound of each performing ensemble using them!” The School of Music will also be upgrading several practice rooms with the addition of seven new Boston upright pianos.