Terese Volk Tuohey, Ph.D. ’93, Professional Achievement Award Recipient 2020

When Dr. Terese Volk Tuohey wanted to pursue a doctorate involving multicultural music education, she was given contact information for Dr. William (Bill) Anderson, emeritus faculty at Kent State University. She spoke with Bill and followed up with a visit to campus, then found out that part of the program included residency on campus.

“I was newly married at the time,” she said. “My husband said he’d waited long enough in life to find me and  he didn’t want to be a bachelor again.” So, Terese decided to wait and focus on her marriage.

A few years later when he passed away, she was very glad she had stayed home.

At that point, she spoke to Bill again. There were very few places where you could really dive into ethnomusicology/multicultural music education and Kent State was one of only two options. She had traveled and met people so she knew what she was looking for and Kent State had it all. In addition, she had a cousin in Cleveland so she would still be close to family, and her husband had left her in a good place financially. She felt in that way, he was still backing her. With everything aligned, a few months after speaking to Bill again she jumped in.

While at Kent State, she completed her dissertation (A History of Multicultural Music Education in the United States, 1900-1990, Kent State University, 1993) which to this day is still a benchmark for educators studying multiculturalism, world music and diversity in the music classroom.

She has fond memories of her time at Kent State, including the people. In addition to Bill, there was also Dr. Terry Miller, who was in the ethnomusicology dept, and very supportive of music education students. Dr. Miller coordinated the Chinese and Thai ensembles in which Terese participated, as well as numerous pot-luck dinners.

“These potluck dinners were held once per month at someone’s house, and included the students in the graduate program,” Dr. Volk Tuohey said. “I really enjoyed those because that was our best opportunity to sit down and talk about our research.”

Having her Ph.D. from Kent State has been beneficial to her throughout her career.

“It gave me a lot of credence,” Dr. Volk Tuohey said. “It helped a lot when I went to conferences, including the many state conferences I attended.”

Dr. Volk Tuohey is currently an associate professor emerita at Wayne State University, Detroit, Mich, where she taught both graduate and undergraduate courses in instrumental music teacher education. Prior to that, she taught instrumental music education (band and orchestra) for 26 years in the public Schools of Buffalo, NY, and two years as an adjunct assistant professor at Canisius College, Buffalo, and State University College of NY at Buffalo and Fredonia. 

She is the author of Music, Education, and Multiculturalism (Oxford University Press, 1998); co-author of World On A String (Alfred Music Publishing, 2002); and articles in the Journal of Research in Music Education, Journal of Historical Research in Music Education, the International Journal of Music Education, as well as several state journals. Her most recent publication is A Musician and Teacher in 19th Century New England: Irving Emerson, 1843-1903 (Lexington Books, 2015).

Dr. Volk Tuohey serves as a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Historical Research in Music Education and the International Journal of Music Education. As a researcher and clinician, she has presented papers at regional, national and international music education conferences. In her clinics and workshops, she combines her experience as a music educator with her interests in historical research and ethnomusicology.
Dr. Volk Tuohey’s historical research has also included the music education projects of the WPA/Federal Music Project. Work derived from this WPA research culminated in a collaborative online resource between the Wayne State University Library, the WSU Department of Music and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Other research focused on community music education as exemplified through workers songbooks, union bands and corporate performing ensembles. Additionally, she documented community music education through the work of the Friday Morning Musicale of Tampa, Fla.  

Although she has received several honors for her work, most particularly the Distinguished Research Award from the History SRIG/NAfME, and has mentored countless students over her years of teaching (including doctoral students at Wayne State University, Boston University, the University of South Florida/Tampa and the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, Rome, Italy), she is most proud of her many students who have graduated and gone on to successful careers of their own in music education.

Looking back on her time as a student at Kent State, Dr. Volk Tuohey had some advice for current multicultural music students.

“Participate in as many practical ensemble performing groups as possible – I was in the Thai, African and Chinese groups and would play with guests as they came into the department,” she said. “Do the music, and as much of it as possible. And remember that the foods and costumes are also all pieces of learning the culture of the music.”

When she found out she was the recipient of this Professional Achievement Award, she was stunned.

“I appreciated the nomination from Bill, but I really didn’t think I would actually get the award,” Dr. Volk Tuohey said. “Receiving this has brought me great validation, which is awful nice from the place where you got your Ph.D.”