Graduate Study @ MSU

Faculty and graduate students celebrating at the last colloquium of the academic year.
Faculty and graduate students celebrating at the last colloquium of the academic year.

Our doctoral students play a critical role in the music education community at MSU. Each of our students is highly experienced in their particular area of expertise, and make valuable contributions to the undergraduate and graduate programs in music education.


We consider our doctoral students to be "fixed-term junior faculty" colleagues, and believe that this approach to developing a "community of learners" assists our doctoral students in making the transition to collegiate faculty positions much more smoothly.


MSU Ph.D. students teach and assist with courses, observe student teachers and conduct independent research during their residencies.  These experiences help them gain valuable collegiate teaching experience and preparation for the establishment of a scholarly agenda.


Current Doctoral Students

Rachel Grimsby has 15 years experience in elementary general and choral music education. She holds a B.M.Ed from East Carolina University, and a M.M.Ed from The University of Hartford’s Hartt School of Music. She has obtained certification in all Kodály and Orff levels. Rachel is a teacher trainer for FAME, holding certifications in First Steps and Conversational Solfege Levels One and Two. Rachel is a frequent clinician at the local, state and national levels, and is a member of the National Association for Music Educators, Organization of Kodály Educators, the American Orff-Schulwerk Association, and is a current and founding member of the Feierabend Association of Music Education. Rachel is looking forward to beginning her Ph.D studies at Michigan State University in the fall of 2017.

David Potter is a Ph.D. student in music education at Michigan State University. Before coming to Michigan, David taught K-5 Music in Memphis.  In his six years in Memphis, he received the New Teacher of the Year award, the Teacher of the Year award, TMEA’s Outstanding Young Music Educator award, CBS/WREG Educator of the Week, and the inaugural Legacy Award for outstanding service to the field of music education. In addition to his teaching duties, David wrote the new Tennessee standards for K-5 music education, served on the textbook review committee for the State Board of Education, and worked as a Peer Reviewer/Executive Reviewer for the Tennessee Fine Arts Portfolio. David has presented several times, including the NAfME, SEADAE, and TMEA conferences. His topics included, “Universal Techniques for Top-Notch Observations,” “Teacher Leadership in the Peer Review Process,” and, “Orffervations: Techiques for Level Five Observations.” He currently holds a BM in Music Education from the Eastman School of Music, an MM in Music Education from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam, and Orff Certification in Levels I-III from the University of Memphis. David’s research interests include music teacher assessment and social justice.

Adrienne Rodriguez is a Ph.D. student (Ethnomusicology Cognate) at Michigan State University. She earned her bachelor of music in music education at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY and a masters degree in music education at the University of Miami. She taught elementary general music for 5 years in Tampa, Florida. She has taught early childhood music in many different settings for the past 10 years. Adrienne is also a private music instructor for voice, piano, and guitar. Her research interests include early childhood music instruction practices and musical home environment. 

Latasha Thomas joined the doctoral community at Michigan State University in Fall 2016, and is currently a Ph.D student in music education (ethnomusicology cognate). She has earned a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of Tennessee at Martin and Masters of Music from the University of Central Arkansas and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in Music Performance and Music Education, respectively. She has taught general music and band in Tennessee for four years. Her research interests include LGBTQAI+ issues in music education, music education and social justice, and African American studies in music education. 

Amy Lewis originally hails from Kansas City, MO and is a Ph.D. student in music education at Michigan State University. Previously, Amy taught Kindergarten-8th grade general music, concert band, jazz band and choir in Des Plaines, Illinois. She also taught high school choir at Urban Prep Academy in Chicago, IL. During her time in Des Plaines,  Amy was the 2015 Illinois Education Association Bob Haisman Teacher of the Year recipient and also received the “Those Who Excel Award Recipient: Excellence” as an Early Career Educator in October 2012 from the Illinois State Board of Education. She has facilitated many sessions at the Illinois Music Educator’s Conference in Peoria, IL with session titles including “How to Survive Your First Year Teaching” and “Common Core in the General Music Classroom”. Outside of the music classroom, Amy has been an involved member of the Illinois Education Association as an elected delegate to three Illinois Education Association Representative Assemblies and two National Education Association Representative Assemblies. She is a dedicated educator that believes in the abilities of all students and considers herself to be a lifelong learner.


Becky Marsh is a Ph.D. student in music education at Michigan State University, completing a choral conducting cognate. After earning her Bachelors degree in Music Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG), Becky served as a choral music educator in North Carolina, where her program grew in both size and spirit. As the musical director of Lexington Youth Theatre for three seasons, she gained invaluable experience working with K-12 students of various backgrounds. Becky has taught beginning guitar, ukulele, music for elementary education majors, and introductory music education courses at the collegiate level. In addition to being an active presenter and clinician, she is beginning work on her dissertation examining the initial field-observation experiences of pre-service music teachers. Becky’s research interests include teacher identity and socialization, students’ acquisition of musicianship skills, and creative musicianship in the ensemble setting. She hopes to inspire future music educators to envision and enact a culture of school music education that is inviting to all students and an integral part of the school community.