Peter Webster

Vice Dean of Division of Scholarly and Professional Studies, Scholar-in-Residence

Adjunct Professor

  • Program:
    Music Teaching and Learning
  • Division:
    Scholarly and Professional Studies
  • Expertise:
    Music Creative Thinking and Assessment


Peter Webster is a Scholar-in-Residence in Music Education at the Thornton School with special expertise in music creative thinking, assessment, and music technology. He is an Emeritus Professor at the Bienen School of Music, Northwestern University, where he was a music professor and administrator for 25 years prior to his work at USC.

Webster holds degrees in music education from the University of Southern Maine (BS) and the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester (MM, PhD). He was a public school music teacher in Maine, Massachusetts, and New York before moving to Cleveland to teach in the Department of Music at Case Western Reserve University for 14 years; he moved to Northwestern in 1988 where he served as the John Beattie Professor of Music Education, led the Ph.D. Program in Music Education, and worked as an Academic Studies Department Chair and Associate Dean for Academics. 

His teaching at USC includes courses in philosophy of music education, creative thinking in music, graduate research in music education,  music technology, and assessment of music learning. Webster also serves as the Vice Dean of the Division of Scholarly and Professional Studies.

Webster has supervised many doctoral dissertations in music education and has been the recipient of many grants, including a landmark award from the National Association of Music Merchants to study the influence of music experiences on adult creativity in non-music fields.  Webster has presented at many state, national, and international meetings and is a frequent keynote speaker.  His published work includes over 80 articles and book chapters on technology, music education practice, and creative thinking in music which have appeared in journals and handbooks in and outside of music.  He is an editorial board member for several prestigious journals and has severed as an editor for several projects, including co-editing of the MENC Handbook of Research on Music Learning published by Oxford University Press (2012). Webster is co-author of Experiencing Music Technology, 3rd edition Updated (Cengage, 2008), a standard textbook used in introductory college courses in music technology.  He is the author of Measures of Creative Thinking in Music, an exploratory tool for assessing music thinking using quasi-improvisational tasks.  He is working on a new book on creative thinking in music for music teaching and learning.