UMass Boston

Sommer Forrester

Performing Arts
Associate Professor
University Hall Floor 2

Areas of Expertise

Music Teacher Education, Urban Music Education, Conducting Pedagogy, Qualitative Research Methods


PhD, University of Michigan, Music Education with a cognate in Wind Conducting
MMEd, University of Michigan, Music Education
BEd, University of Toronto
BMus, University of Western Ontario, Music and French

Additional Information

Sommer Forrester serves as an Associate Professor of Music and Coordinator of Music Education at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She teaches undergraduate music education courses in instrumental music and conducting, advises undergraduate music majors, conducts the UMass Boston Orchestra, and oversees all aspects of the Music Teacher Licensure Program. Prior to her appointment at UMass Boston, Forrester served as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Toronto Scarborough. A former classroom teacher, Forrester taught instrumental music for eight years in three different countries: Kuwait, Israel, and Canada. During her three-year tenure overseas at American International Schools, she taught elementary music, beginning band, and directed middle and high school level ensembles. In addition, Forrester was an instructor at a local conservatory of music that served refugee children from the West Bank. Forrester returned to her native country to assume the role as Director of Bands at Havergal College, a private girls’ school in Toronto Canada.

Forrester is committed to creating a learning space that privileges the process of learning over a definitive goal. She frequently collaborates with scholars, educators, and performers as a way to inspire and guide her research and creative output, while serving as an example for students. She is deeply invested in examining teacher education in different disciplines as a way to inform and reimagine preservice and in-service music teacher education. Forrester examines education in different contexts including overseas, as a means to understand the experiences of first-generation minority students in North American schools. Her current research project involves studying music teaching and learning in Palestine. Forrester is actively involved in community partnerships and service-learning initiatives within the Boston Area. Current partnerships include: Boston Public Schools, YoFES, and the GIFT program. In 2018, Forrester was awarded the Community-Engaged Innovative Teaching Award from UMass Boston.

Forrester’s research explores teacher education, teacher knowledge, curriculum, and conducting pedagogy. Forrester is published in prominent peer-reviewed research journals and practitioner journals including the Journal of Research in Music Education, Journal of Music Teacher Education, Update: Applications of Research in Music Education, and the Massachusetts Music Educators Association Journal. She is an active guest conductor, clinician, and conference presenter. Recent presentations include regional, national, and international music education conferences and teacher in-service workshops in the United States, Canada, China, and Scotland. Forrester serves as a peer reviewer for the American Educational Research Association, and serves on the Advisory Board for the Music Educators Journal. 

Dr. Forrester earned her PhD in Music Education from the University of Michigan with a cognate in Wind Conducting; a Master of Music Education degree from the University of Michigan; a Bachelor of Education from the University of Toronto; and a Honors Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Western Ontario. Forrester is an active member of the National Association for Music Education, Massachusetts Music Education Association, Society for Music Teacher Education, International Society for Music Education, American Educational Research Association, and College Band Director’s National Association.