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Dr. Rachel Whitcomb

Assistant Professor of Music Education
Mary Pappert School of Music
Music Education

School of Music, Room 213
Phone: 412.396.2225

duq.edu/ecmi

Education:

Ed.D., Music Education, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2005
M.M., Music Education, Northwestern University, 1995
B.S., Music Education, West Chester University, 1994
Bio

Rachel Whitcomb joined the Duquesne faculty in 2009. She currently teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in music education on the topics of early childhood and elementary general music, creativity, and music for students with special needs. Dr. Whitcomb also supervises student teachers and serves as the faculty advisor for the Duquesne collegiate chapter of NAfME: The National Association for Music Education. She recently began teaching Musical Creations, a music class for third graders offered by City Music Center in the Mary Pappert School of Music that provides simultaneous instruction to children and pre-service music teachers.

In 2010, Dr. Whitcomb created the Early Childhood Music Initiative (ECMI), a project designed to provide meaningful musical experiences for young children in underserved preschools throughout Pittsburgh. ECMI informs and educates preschool directors, teachers, and early childhood caregivers about ways to incorporate music into the daily lives of children while also allowing future music teachers (undergraduate music education majors) opportunities to gain experience teaching music to children in real-world settings. Dr. Whitcomb serves as the Project Director for ECMI. For more information on ECMI, click here.

Dr. Whitcomb's professional interests have included improvisation in elementary general music, rubrics as evaluative tools in music instruction, and the role of music in preschools. She has recently conducted studies focusing on the nature and extent to which improvisation is occurring in elementary general music classrooms. Through her work with ECMI, she has studied preschool teachers' perceptions of the role of music in early childhood instruction. Her work has been published in Journal of Research in Music Education, Music Educators Journal, Research and Issues in Music Education, Teaching Music, The Orff Echo, The Kodály Envoy, and General Music Today. She is a frequent presenter at international, national, regional, state, and local professional development conferences for music educators and early childhood teachers. Dr. Whitcomb currently serves on the Editorial Board for Music Educators Journal.

Publications

Gruenhagen, L.M., & Whitcomb, R. (2014). Improvisational practices in elementary general music classrooms. Journal of Research in Music Education, 61(4), 379-395.

Whitcomb, R. (2013). Teaching improvisation in elementary general music: Facing fears and fostering creativity. Music Educators Journal, 99(3), 43-50.

Whitcomb, R. (2012). [Review of the book Learning from young children: Research in early childhood music, edited by S. L. Burton & C. C. Taggart]. The Orff Echo, 44(4), 34-35.

Whitcomb, R., Berger, L., & Schmidt, C. (2011). A general music experience in China: Reflections and lesson ideas. General Music Today, 25(1), 14-18.

Whitcomb, R. (2011). The early childhood music initiative: A model for partnerships between preschools and universities. Proceedings of the 2011 Symposium on Music Teacher Education. http://smte.us/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Whitcomb_SMTE11_Paper.pdf

Whitcomb, R. (2010). Rhythmic characteristics of improvisational drumming among preschool children. Research and Issues in Music Education, 8(1).

Whitcomb, R. (2007). Improvisation in elementary general music: A survey study. The Kodály Envoy, 34(1), 5-10.

Whitcomb, R. (2007). Elementary improvisation in New York state: Survey results. The School Music News: The Official Publication of the New York State School Music Association, 71(2), 31-33.

Whitcomb, R. (2005). A description of improvisational activities in elementary general music classrooms in the state of Illinois (Doctoral dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2005). Dissertation Abstracts International, 66, 12A.

Whitcomb, R. (2003). Step by step: Using Kodály to build vocal improvisation. Teaching Music, 10(5), 34-38.

Whitcomb, R. (1999). Writing rubrics for the music classroom. Music Educators Journal, 85(6), 26-32.

Whitcomb, R. (1998). Involving and educating parents in elementary music programs. Tempo: New Jersey Music Educators Journal, 53(1), 43-44 and Segue: The Journal of Arkansas Music Educators, 20(3), 12-14.

Grants/Awards

2013: Recipient of the West Chester University Distinguished Alumni Award

2012 - 2013: Grant ($10,000) from The Helen Ruth Gordon Charitable Trust of PNC Charitable Trusts for The Early Childhood Music Initiative

2012 - 2013: Grant ($35,000) from The Pittsburgh Foundation for The Early Childhood Music Initiative

2011 - 2012: Duquesne University Learning Assessment Mini-Grant for the Music Education Gateway Assessment Project

2010 - 2011: Grant ($100,000) from The PNC Foundation for The Early Childhood Music Initiative

2003: Recipient of the Marilyn Pflederer Zimmerman Fellowship in Doctoral Studies in Music Education (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Presentations

Selected International Presentations

Whitcomb, R. (2012, July). The role of music in American preschools: Teachers' practices and attitudes. Early Childhood Music Education Pre-Conference Seminar of the 30th International Society of Music Education World Conference, Corfu, Greece.

Whitcomb, R. (2012, July). Meaningful early childhood musical experiences: How undergraduate music educators crafted and implemented music lessons in underserved American preschools. Early Childhood Music Education Pre-Conference Seminar of the 30th International Society of Music Education World Conference, Corfu, Greece.

Whitcomb, R., & Gruenhagen, L. M. (2012, July). An investigation of improvisation in elementary general music classrooms. 30th International Society for Music Education World Conference, Thessaloniki, Greece.

Whitcomb, R. (2009, December). Improvisation in elementary general music classrooms in the United States. National Music Ensemble of Xuhui District Aiju Elementary School, Shanghai, China.

Selected National Presentations

Whitcomb, R. (2012, December). Improvisation in the elementary general music classroom. Learning Network Webinar of the National Association for Music Education. http://musiced.nafme.org/learning-network/archived-webinars/.

Whitcomb, R. (2011, November). Improvise with a mix of Orff and Kodály. American Orff-Schulwerk Association Professional Development Conference, Pittsburgh, PA.

Whitcomb, R. (2011, September). The early childhood music initiative: A model for partnerships between preschools and universities. Symposium on Music Teacher Education: Intersections of Practice, Research, and Policy, Greensboro, NC.

Whitcomb, R. (2009, November). Rhythmic characteristics of improvisational drumming in preschool children. American Orff-Schulwerk Association National Professional Development Conference, Milwaukee, WI.

Whitcomb, R. (2006, March). A description of improvisational activities in elementary general music classrooms in the state of Illinois. Organization of American Kodály Educators National Conference, Charlotte, NC.

Whitcomb, R. (2002, April). Rubrics as evaluative tools in the general music classroom. MENC National Biennial In-Service Conference, Nashville, TN.

Selected State/Local Presentations

Whitcomb, R. (2012, September). Musical play for young children: Explore, discover, sing, and move! Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children Conference, Play: Transforming Children, Families, Communities, and Lives, Pittsburgh, PA.

Talbot, B., & Whitcomb, R. (2012, April). Developing collaborative school-college partnership models across the state of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Music Educators Association Annual In-Service Conference, Lancaster, PA.

Whitcomb, R. (2011, April). Interview preparation: Tips for getting the job! Pennsylvania Music Educators Association Annual In-Service Conference, Hershey, PA.

Whitcomb, R. (2010, December). Ni Hao! General Music Experiences in China. New York State School Music Association State Conference, Rochester, NY.

Whitcomb, R. (2010, February). Improvisation in elementary general music: Facing fears and fostering creativity. New Jersey Music Education Association State Conference, East Brunswick, NJ.

Whitcomb, R. (2009, December). Rubrics: Exploration and creation. New York State School Music Association State Conference, Rochester, NY.

Whitcomb, R. (2007, November). Professionalism + portfolios = A promising future in music education. New York State School Music Association State Conference, Rochester, NY.