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USM School of Music presents first Distinguished Alumni Award

Peter Webster and Helen Heel

On October 20, the University of Southern Maine School of Music hosted the 10th Annual Northern New England Collegiate Symposium on Music Education. The keynote speaker was USM alum Dr. Peter R. Webster, Scholar-in-Residence at the University of Southern California and Professor Emeritus of Music Education at Northwestern University. 

Webster, a graduate of the class of 1969, offered three plenary sessions addressing Music & Creativity, Music Teacher Creativity, and Engaging Student Creativity in Music Learning. Additional sessions were offered to students throughout the day lead by creative music education practitioners.

At the afternoon reception, the School of Music, in collaboration with the USM Alumni Association, presented Webster the first-ever Distinguished Alumni Award.

School of Music award The award ceremony, a surprise to him, was attended by his own former USM professor, Helen Heel, as well as USM President Glenn Cummings.

"Now 97, Helen remains exceptionally kind and engaging and displays a powerful joy in her former university. (Incidentally, she taught gubernatorial candidate Janet Mills in third grade music class in the Gorham Elementary schools. Small world.) Dr. Webster has earned a national name in music education, including teaching such greats as our very own Dr. Michele Kaschub," said Cummings.

Visit the School of Music Flickr to see a full album of pictures from the day. 


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 in Evanston, Illinois. He 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 has taught in the public schools of Maine, Massachusetts, and New York. Following 14 years of teaching at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, 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. Visit his website to read his full bio.