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Joel Griffin — Evangel prof earns doctorate in music ed.

Published on Mar 27, 2020 by Paul K. Logsdon


Dr. Joel Griffin, director of jazz studies at Evangel University. //


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Joel Griffin, associate professor of music at Evangel University, recently completed his Doctor of Musical Arts in Music Education with a research emphasis in jazz studies at Boston University.

Griffin is a saxophonist, composer and educator. He has been on the professional music scene since 1998, and has been the director of jazz studies at Evangel since 2012.

Boston University is the oldest degree-granting music program in the United States. Like Evangel, the BU School of Music is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM).

“The foundation of Evangel’s highly regarded music program is music education — it was our department’s first degree and continues to be our largest major,” said Dr. Tom Matrone, chair of the Department of Music.

“Joel is a solid performer who has helped attract strong instrumental music education majors. His doctoral work at Boston University will take us to another level when it comes to recruiting,”


Improv research

While working on his degree, Griffin conducted an exploration of how jazz improvisation is taught.

“I studied music professors — those who learned in schools and those who would be considered artist-level jazz musicians — and how they used pedagogical content knowledge to sequence their instruction methods when teaching jazz improvisation,” he said.

“I have found that undergraduate jazz students tend to struggle with the skills that are not as easily objectified when learning to improvise. I wanted to see how some of the most renowned educators and musicians teach these concepts.”

Griffin hopes to present his research findings at the Jazz Educators Network Conference, along with having his participants there for a Q&A.

A native of Southern Missouri, Griffin holds a bachelor’s degree in saxophone performance from Missouri Southern State University and a master’s degree in music theory from Missouri State University.

He began his doctoral work at the University of North Texas before transferring to the program at Boston University in 2015.



Griffin is quick to add that his successful completion of the doctorate would not have been possible without the support of his Evangel University colleagues who have encouraged him throughout the process.

“I would also not have been able to complete this degree without the support of Dr. Tom Matrone, chair of the department of music, and Dr. Mike McCorcle, provost,” he said. “And the biggest supporters are my lovely wife, Kara, and our 3 beautiful children.”

Dr. Joel Griffin with the Evangel University Jazz Orchestra. // Photo by Paul K. Logsdon


Department of Music

The Department of Music at Evangel University offers majors in music, music education, music performance, music business/technology and worship leadership. Each program is carefully designed to ensure that students build strong musical skills, gain professional training and experience a wide range of musical activities.

Evangel University, which includes the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS), is a comprehensive Christian university committed to excellence in educating and equipping students to serve the church and society globally. Evangel serves more than 2,300 students from all 50 states and numerous foreign countries, offering 65 undergraduate majors and 19 master’s and doctoral degrees.