Joshua Berrett, Ph.D.


My teaching career spans well over forty years in higher education. In addition, I have also addressed seminars and made keynote addresses at such U.S. institutions as Rutgers University Institute of Jazz Studies, The City University of New York, New York University, Johns Hopkins University, and Georgia State University. In addition, I have lectured abroad, in South Africa, Israel, and Italy.

I have been teaching online music appreciation since the early 90’s and have come to embrace resources like Blackboard and as platforms for interactive and collaborative learning. I have included embedded sound files, YouTube clips, and assorted iTunes selections to make the courses engaging. 

I like to make my courses stimulating by, for example, juxtaposing examples of rap with the sources sampled, pop and jazz versions of the classics compared with the original. Above all, I strive, whenever possible, to reveal music’s relationship to the human condition.


In addition, I have originated interdisciplinary courses such as: Devils, Witches, and the Supernatural in music; Astronomy, Literature, and music (taught online with David Levy of Shoemaker-Levy comet fame); and Shakespeare in music and drama.

Joshua Berrett, Ph.D. 

Since retiring in 2012, I have been highly active in the Lifetime Learners Institute at Norwalk Community College in Connecticut. My courses have proven to be highly popular. They have covered such topics as:

Expanding Musical Horizons: Time Travel from the 1960’s to the Present.
The 1890’s: A Dynamic Decade
Rodgers and Hart
Rodgers and Hammerstein
Leonard Bernstein
Irving Berlin
Armstrong’s World: Celebrating Satchmo
Duke Ellington: Genius Beyond Category.
Exploring the Movie Soundtrack
Iconic Songs and their back stories


A specialist in 19th and 20th-century music, I have published two volumes on the history of the symphony in the Garland Symphony Series of Barry S. Brook, entries in the International Dictionary of Opera, and articles in such major journals as the Journal of Jazz Studies, The Musical Quarterly, American Music, The Black Perspective in Music, The Journal of Southern History, and Musica Oggi.

My books include The Louis Armstrong Companion: Eight Decades of Commentary (Schirmer Books/Simon and Schuster Macmillan) and The Musical World of J.J. Johnson (co-authored with Louis G. Bourgois and published by Scarecrow Press and the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University).

A revised paperback edition of the Johnson work appeared in 2002. My most recent book, Louis Armstrong and Paul Whiteman: Two Kings of Jazz, was published by Yale University Press in 2004.

My research

My research is cited in major publications—among them, Leon Plantinga’s Romantic Music Glenn Watkins’s Pyramids at the Louvre: Music, Culture, and Collage from Stravinsky to the Postmodernists; Krin Gabbard’s Jammin’ at the Margins: Jazz and the American Cinema; The Oxford Companion to Jazz; Jazz: A History of America’s Music by Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns; and the latest editions of The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz (2003 edition) and The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.(2001 edition). More recently I have written the commentary for the Verve Deluxe CD reissue of Satchmo: A Musical Autobiography.and liner notes for J.J. Johnson, Origins: The Savoy Sessions. There are also liner notes that I wrote for a number of RCA Victor Red Seal albums (now BMG Classics).

From time to time, I have also reviewed book manuscripts for Houghton-Mifflin, Prentice-Hall/Pearson, Worth Publishers, The University of Michigan Press, and Yale University Press.



I continue to be active as a violinist, as a member of an intergenerational orchestra of accomplished amateurs and professionals, the St. Thomas Orchestra. Among our concerto soloists have been past and present members of the New York Philharmonic.


Ph.D. The University of Michigan ( musicology)

M.A. Columbia University (musicology)

B.A. The University of Cape Town (philosophy and anthropology)


Manhattan School of Music (violin pedagogy; Dalcroze eurhythmics)

The Juilliard School (conducting)

Tanglewood Music Center (conducting)


I am the recipient of a number of grants, from such sources as the National Endowment for the Humanities and NYNEX for my research in jazz as well as for developing Internet-based Distance Learning courses in music.

I was also a participant during the summer of 2002 in a National Science Foundation project for Mercy College faculty dealing with ethical issues and the Internet.

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