Peter Webster


Adjunct Professor

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


Peter R. Webster is currently Scholar-in-Residence at the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and is a Professor Emeritus of Music Education at the Bienen School of Music, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. He holds degrees in music education from the University of Southern Maine (BS) and the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester (MM, PhD). He has taught in the public schools of Maine, Massachusetts, and New York. Following 14 years of teaching at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, he moved to Northwestern in 1988 and was there for 25 years prior to his retirement in 2012 from that school. His current position at USC includes half-time teaching in the Department of Music Teaching and Learning and assists the School as a Vice Dean for the Division of Scholarly and Professional Studies. He offers online courses for the graduate programs at the University of Florida at Gainesville. He assists with the music education doctoral program at Boston University.

Webster was the 2014 recipient of the Senior Researcher Award from the Society of Research in Music Education of the National Association for Music Education. He 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. It is distributed for free from his website. A retrospective of his work, together with comment from scholars in the field of music education, is also distributed for free in iBook format from Apple’s iBook Store under the title Coming About and can also be found as a PDF download from his website.He has presented at many state, national, and international meetings and is a frequent keynote speaker. His published work includes over 90 articles, bools, and book chapters on creative thinking in music, music technology, and music teaching and learning. He is an editorial board member for several prestigious journals and has severed as an editor for several projects, including the MENC Handbook of Research on Music Learning (2012) and The Musical Experience: Rethinking Music Teaching and Learning (2014), both published by Oxford University Press. He is a music editor for the International Journal of Education and the Art and the College Music Society Symposium: Instructional Technologies And Methodologies.

Webster has held various administrative positions in his career, including a term as Associate Dean at the Bienen School. He served as Chair of the Department of Music Studies which included the programs of music education, musicology/ethnomusicology, music theory/cognition, and composition/technology. He has taught courses in the philosophy of music education, graduate research, music technology, measurement and assessment, and creative thinking in music. He 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.

Professional experience


  • Webster, P. (forthcoming) Developing tests of musical creativity. In. T. Brophy, (Ed.) Oxford Handbook of Assessment Policy and Practice in Music Education. New York: Oxford University Press
  • Barbot, B., & Webster, P. (forthcoming). Creative Thinking in Music: Processes of Children and Adolescents. In T. Lubart (Ed.), The Creative Process: Perspectives from multiple domains. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Webster, P. & Williams, D. (2017). Foreword, In A. Ruthmann & R. Mantie (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of technology and music education. (xiii-xx), New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Webster, P. (2017). Foreword, In P. Schmidt & R. Colwell (Eds.), Policy and the political life of music education. (ix-xvi), New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Webster, P. (2017). Foreword, In R. Rowe, A. Triantafyllaki, & F. Pachet, Children’s creative music-making with reflexive interactive technology: Adventures in improvising and composing, (xiv-xvi), London: Routledge.
  • Webster, P. (2016). Big ideas in music teaching and learning: Implications for cognitive research and practice (Grandes Ideias no ensino e aprendizagem de música: implicações para a pesquisa em cognição e para a prática.) Revista da Abem, 24(37) 8-16. (Brazilian Association of Music Education)
  • Webster, P. (2016). Foreword, In P. Riley, Creating music: What children from around the world can teach us. (vii-ix), Lantham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Webster, P. (2016) Creative thinking in music: Twenty-five years on. Music Educators Journal, 102(3), 26-32
  • Webster, P. (2016). Pathways to the study of music composition by preschool to precollege students. In S. Hallam, I. Cross & M. Thaut (Eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Music Psychology (2 ed.) pp. 681-708. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
  • Webster, P. (2016). Computer-based technology. In G. McPherson (Ed.), The Child As Musician, 2nd edition. (pp. 500-519), New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • Barrett, J. & Webster, P. (Eds.) (2014). The Musical experience: Rethinking music teaching and learning. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Webster, P. (2014). Reflecting on guiding researchers. In C. Randles (Ed.), Music education: Navigating the future. (pp. 314-319) New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Webster, P. (2014). Charting a new course for music teaching and learning: Difficult but rewarding waters. In J. Richmond and M. Hickey (Eds.), Coming about: A retrospective review of, and reflections on the writings of Peter Webster (iBook) [http://www.apple.com/ibooks/)
  • Webster, P. (2014). Software to interrogate qualitative data in music education. In C. Conway (Ed). Handbook of Qualitative Research in Music Education. New York: Oxford University Press
  • Webster, P. (2013). Foreword and Afterword. In C. Randles & D. Stringham (Eds.), Musicianship: Composing in band and orchestra. (pp. xi-xiv; 419-422) Chicago, IL: GIA Press.
  • Randles, C. and Webster, P. (2013) Creativity in music education. In E. Carayannis (ed.), Encyclopedia of creativity, invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship. (pp. 321-326) Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer. (also widely available online from academic libraries with Springer subscription)
  • Webster, P. (2013). Music composition intelligence and creative thinking in music. In M. Kaschub and J. Smith (Eds.) Composing our future: Preparing music educators to teach composition (19-32) New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Webster, P. (2012) Technology in music instruction and learning. In N. Seel (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the sciences of learning. (3286-3287) Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer. (also widely available online from academic libraries with Springer subscription)
  • Webster, P. (2012). There is nothing complex about a correlation coefficient. In G. Welch and G. McPherson, (Eds). Oxford Handbook of Music Education, Vol. II (694-697) New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Webster, P. (2012). Toward a Pedagogy of Revision: Guiding Middle School Students’ Music Compositions. In O. Odena, (Ed). Musical creativity: Insights from music education research, (93-112): Surrey, England: Ashgate Publishing.
  • Webster, P. (2011). Constructivism and Music Learning. In R. Colwell and P. Webster (Eds.) MENC Handbook of Research on Music Learning, Vol. 1, (35-83) New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Webster, P. (2010) “Music Teachers as Guides for Learning,” In M. Biasutti, (Ed). Educarea educare: Ricerche sulla formazione delgli die musica. (115-129). Lecce, Italy: Pensa Multitmedia.
  • Webster, P. (2009). Children as Creative Thinkers in Music: Focus on Composition. In: L. Hallam, I. Cross, & M. Thaut (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Music Psychology, (pp. 421-428) Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
  • Williams, B. & Webster, P. (2008). Experiencing Music Technology Cengage/Schirmer, New York, 2008. (3rd edition UPDATE) [4th edition Forthcoming: Oxford University Press.)
  • Webster, P. (2007). Computer-based technology and music teaching and learning: 2000-2005. In: L. Bresler (Ed.), The International handbook of research in arts education, (1311-1328). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.