UP CLOSE: Music Educator Jamey Kelley


Name: Jamey Kelley

Job Title/Department: Assistant Professor &  Coordinator of Undergraduate Music Education (READ MORE)

Where are you from?: I’m originally from Birmingham, Alabama, although I did live in Fes, Morocco a couple of years as a kid. I think that experience helped foster a nomadic disposition in me—as I’ve lived in Tennessee, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington, and now Florida as an adult.

What has your experience been so far working with FIU students and faculty?: I have really been inspired interacting with the students; in the short time I have been here, they have shown so much ability and determination. I’m really looking forward to working with them and seeing what we can learn from each other. I am very excited to be here. The faculty has also been so supportive and welcoming.

What do you hope to accomplish at FIU?: I see my primary role as helping prepare future music educators for their teaching career. A big part of that is guiding students through the certification process so they’ll be qualified and competent teachers in K-12 school settings. But also, I want to help students learn the best practices for engaging people with music in other types of settings. Music is an essential part of the human experience. Music educators should encourage musical development in all types of music traditions.

What do you enjoy most about the job?: As with all my experiences with teaching, students are by far the best part of the job. Being in the classroom has always been a joy for me and feel so fortunate that I can continue my teaching career here.

First paying job?: In high school, I was a clerk for a law office that dealt with automobile accidents. I mostly filed papers and answered the phone, but in retrospect, I’m surprised that they gave me so much responsibility in setting up their case files. I also taught piano lessons and played a couple of church gigs in high school.

Favorite TV show? Fictional Book?: It seems like a lot of my favorite shows are pretty dark: House of Cards, the Walking Dead, and Better Call Saul. I watch reruns of Seinfeld or 30 Rock to balance it out. I wish I had more time to read fiction. My favorite books I’ve read more recently is The Great World Spins by Colum McCann and Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain. Both novels explore our modern existence in the face of pain and tragedy.

 What do you listen to in your free time?: I mostly listen to NPR when I’m in the car—it’s really the only way I know what’s going on in the world. I wish I had more time to listen to music, especially going to live shows, but when I turn on Pandora or Spotify, it’s normally indie-rock/folk type music like Iron & Wine, Alt-J, Fleet Foxes, Young the Giant, and Bon Iver. I also listen to choral music from time to time—I should probably do more of that.

Your proudest accomplishment?: I can’t think of one singular event—but the things that I seem to be proud of are those accomplishments that required a lot of diligence and commitment. Whether it’s finishing the dissertation, hiking the Inca Trail, mounting a musical production with students, or performing my senior recital, it is a great feeling when your hard work has paid off.

What do you do when you are not at FIU?: I’m new to Miami, so it’s mostly exploring. I enjoy playing racquetball (I won my league at the YMCA in Seattle last year) or the occasional round of disc golf.



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