Jessica Rudman (School of Music): Faculty Fellow Award

January 31 2024

Jessica Rudman, assistant professor in the University of Utah School of Music, has been awarded a Faculty Fellow Award for the 2024-25 academic year.

This award supports the completion of two projects: 


Rudman will compose the second act of her original opera "Protectress," which deals with the traumatic effects of rape and victim-shaming in a modern sequel to the Medusa myth. Millennia ago, Medusa was raped by Poseidon and then cursed by her former patron goddess Athena. Today, Medusa decides to confront Athena for tormenting her instead of supporting her. The timely subject matter of the story epitomizes the heart of Rudman’s creative agenda: to connect with performers and audiences by exploring themes of social justice, particularly those relating to gender.

Pilot Study: Music Composition Pedagogy

Rudman will inaugurate a pilot study examining teaching composition based on methodology used by Jennifer Snodgrass in her Teaching Music Theory: New Voices and Approaches (Oxford University Press 2020). Snodgrass’s multiyear process began with a survey distributed to theory teachers across the country and culminated in observing approximately 60 instructors in their classrooms. I intend to use my research leave to complete a smaller pilot study in preparation for an eventual book project.

Phase 1 of the pilot study will involve developing a survey and distributing it to a pool of instructors in Utah and the immediate surrounding states. The primary aim will be to examine best practices for effective composition teaching. However, the survey will also collect demographic and institutional information, which will open up the potential to draw meaningful conclusions between how trends in the survey responses may or may not correspond to gender, race/ethnicity, degree type, institution type, and other factors. Participants of the survey will have the opportunity to volunteer for Phase 2, involving follow-up interviews and/or focus groups, as well as observing approximately 5-10 selected teachers in their classes and/or private lessons.

Analyzing the data from Phases 1 and 2 will result in one or more articles and presentations that could be disseminated via the Teaching Composition Symposium, the College Music Society conferences, or the Society of Composers, Inc. conferences. Possible peer-reviewed journals in which to publish this research include the International Journal of Music Education, Engaging Students: Essays in Music Pedagogy, and Contemporary Music Review.