As a music history professor, I am committed to creating opportunities for students to make meaningful contributions to the field. They don’t just learn about history—they become historians and curators of history. While my projects might variously be categorized under the rubrics “undergraduate research,” “service learning,” “students-as-partners,” or “authentic assessment,” what matters to me is that students undertake work that is public, impactful, and lasting.

Esther Morgan-Ellis teaching Esther Morgan-Ellis on the University of North Georgia campus

Recent and ongoing projects include:

  • In my Music History I course, students write “textbook enhancements” addressing a composer who has been omitted from our textbook, the Taruskin/Gibbs Oxford History of Western Music. I publish excellent essays in the MLA Music Instruction & Pedagogy Repository  and assign them to future classes.
  • In Music History II, students plan a music event, write a grant proposal for funding, and create written materials. Although students can stay in the hypothetical realm, they are also invited to write real grants, which I submit through the UNG Grants Office on their behalf. They then commit to producing the event in question. In 2023, for example, a student planned a residency by a Chinese music ensemble and wrote a SouthArts Traditional Arts Touring grant.
  • In Music History III, students present their original research at our annual Research on Contemporary Composition Conference. This event, which is hosted by Dr. David Peoples and myself, brings scholars and composers from around the world to campus for a weekend of presentations and performances.
  • In my 2021 Music of Appalachia class, we undertook a collaborative investigation into the curricula and practices of after-school traditional music programs. Our study, coauthored by myself and two students, was published in the Journal of Popular Music Education.
  • In my 2022 Religious Music class, students worked with Dr. Meredith Doster to write songbook introductions for online publication with the Sounding Spirit project. They also hosted a shape-note workshop at the Bear on the Square Mountain Festival.
  • In my 2023 Music of Appalachia class, we identified documentation of music-making practices in early issues of the local newspaper and coauthored a historical article for submission to a peer-reviewed journal.

Complete List of Courses Taught

  • MUAP 2560: Applied Secondary String
  • MUED 3240: World Music Survey and Methods
  • MUSC 1100: Music Appreciation
  • MUSC 1100H: Music Appreciation (Honors)
  • MUSC 1840/2840/3840/4840: Sinfonietta
  • MUSC 1910/2910/3910/4910: Old-Time String Band
  • MUSC 2450: Intro to World Music
  • MUSC 3400: History of Rock and Roll
  • MUSC 3401: Music History I
  • MUSC 3402: Music History II
  • MUSC 3403: Music History III
  • MUSC 3404: Music in Appalachia
  • MUSC 3910: Vocal Jazz Ensemble
  • MUSC 3920: Chamber Ensemble
  • MUSC 4320: Special Projects in Music
  • MUSC 6330: Intro to Research Methods
  • MUSC 6410: Graduate Music History