Dawn T. Corso is an Assistant Professor of Music Education and Ethnomusicology in the Fred Fox School of Music, Member of the Graduate Faculty in the Graduate College, Affiliated Assistant Professor for the Applied Intercultural Arts Research and Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory Graduate Interdisciplinary Programs (GIDPs) in the Graduate College, and Affiliated Assistant Professor for the Africana Studies Program in the College of Humanities at the University of Arizona.  

Dr. Corso earned a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), in the Division of Cognition, Language, Learning, and Culture, and a Master of Arts (M.A.), in the Division of Socio-Cultural Perspectives in Education, both with emphases in Ethnomusicology and Music Education, from the Department of Educational Psychology in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  She also holds a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Ethnomusicology and a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Anthropology, both with an emphasis in Psychology, from the University of Illinois and an Associate of Arts (A.A.) in Anthropology with an emphasis in Music from Lincoln Land Community College.  Her graduate work first focused on the implementation of multicultural music education in general music settings and later shifted to music-dance communities of practice and informal learning processes amongst African-American children as they occurred outside school settings.

In addition to her university teaching experiences at the University of Illinois, Arizona State University, and University of Arizona, Dr. Corso has taught Pre-K general music, choir, band, and orchestra in schools and served in school and district administrative positions in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, and Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona.  She has directed community choir and band ensembles and performed as a coloratura soprano and trumpet player in the Phoenix metropolitan area and joins local musicians and dancers of Irish and Zimbabwean musics in the Southwest and abroad when possible.

This combined background of research, teaching, and community engagement continues to refine Dr. Corso’s inquiry into “multicultural” music education and its definition and purpose, especially regarding culture and cognition; epistemology, axiology, and meaning; and the politics of power in relation to musical knowledge and value.  It has led to her current work regarding cultural transmission practices of traditional and vernacular musics, the translation of those practices into formalized education settings, and the tensions between marginalization and legitimacy in  schools and institutions of higher education.  She focuses on the traditional musics-dances of Ireland and the Irish trad diaspora in the U.S. and Shona mbira dzavadzimu of Zimbabwe and local music-dance communities of practice found in the Southwest.  To provide space for such study, she leads UA Music Education Without Borders, a community-service and education-oriented group of ethnomusicology ensembles—UA Tíolacadh Irish Ensemble, UA Chipo Mbira Ensemble, and UA Son Arizona Latin Ensemble—practicing and learning alongside student and community members.

Dr. Corso is a regular presenter at conferences focused on the intersection between culture, music, psychology, philosophy, and education often found in specialized, international settings, such as the recently established Pedagogy, Practices, and the Future of Folk Music in Higher Education conference hosted at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow and the Sibelius Academy at the University of Arts Helsinki in Järvenpää, Finland, and her work is disseminated in similar niche publications, like The International Journal of Learning, Philosophy of Music Education Review, Social Studies Research and Practice, and the SAGE Encyclopedia of Ethnomusicology.


University of Arizona Faculty Affiliations

Graduate Faculty, Graduate College

Applied Intercultural Arts Research Graduate Interdisciplinary Program (GIDP), Graduate College

Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory Graduate Interdisciplinary Program (GIDP), Graduate College

Africana Studies Program, College of Humanities


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