If music be the food of love, play on! The greatest playwright of all time knew the significance of music to the human story.

Today, we understand the deeper value of music. The talents of musicians are used in countless ways, from entertaining an audience with a live performance to invoking emotion in film and other media. Music is positively therapeutic, and accomplished musicians are vital and needed in all areas of the profession.

Members of the Parkside music faculty know the thrill of live performances. They are experienced performers, teachers, and researchers and are dedicated to helping you explore your love of music and discovering the best career path. 

Whether your passion is singing, playing an orchestral string instrument, band instrument, classical guitar, or jazz, there's an ensemble for you. As a music student (full and part time) you will become a member of an ensemble, where you'll benefit from growth and creativity sparked by playing with your peers, led by professionals.

Learn more about the Music Department at Parkside. 

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Read more about auditions on the Music Department page.

Parkside has many great academic and talent scholarships for music students, and your initial application serves as an application for general Parkside scholarships and grants.

Even more scholarships are available to music majors, minors, and ensemble members. Music Department scholarships are competitive and valuable. In fact, the value of these scholarships may be awarded up to the full cost of tuition for exceptional student musicians. 

Read more about scholarships on the Music Department page.

You'll gain valuable experience as a music major by playing alongside your peers with expert guidance by acclaimed faculty. 


As a music major at Parkside, you'll benefit from:


  • Personal and individual attention by a faculty of dedicated, first-class musicians and educators
  • Career oriented curriculum
  • Unique Music Education Program (all courses in music)
  • Performance opportunities with over 60 concerts per academic year
  • Professional experience by guest artists and master classes
  • State of the art facilities
  • Large ensembles open to all campus students

Career opportunities for teaching music include instruction at the elementary, secondary, and university levels and independently with the opportunity to establish privately owned music studios. Many musicians who perform professionally can do so on a part-time basis opening up fields beyond teaching and performing. 

Opportunities exist in many related areas such as music publishing, radio and television, arts management, recording engineering, and various other aspects of the music industry.


Laura Rexroth |

Faculty Highlights

  • Alvaro Garcia
    Professor of Music and Director of Orchestras
    Associate Dean, College of Arts and Humanities

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  • Russel Johnson
    Associate Professor and Director of Jazz Band

    Trumpeter Russ Johnson is a recent Midwest transplant after spending 23 years as an important member of New York City’s jazz community. He has 7 recordings as a leader or co-leader and performed on more than 75 recordings as a sideman. Russ has worked alongside many of the legendary figures in jazz including Lee Konitz, Steve Swallow, Bill Frisell, and Joe Lovano. In addition, he has recorded and/or performed with a long list of the most prominent musicians currently on the international jazz scene, including Myra Melford, Ken Vandermark, and Tony Malaby. Russ has performed in more than 40 countries across the globe. His groups have recently performed at the Chicago, Winter Jazz Fest (NYC) Hyde Park, (Chicago) and Bergamo, (Italy) jazz festivals. His most recent recordings, Meeting Point (Relay Recordings) and Still Out To Lunch! (Enja Records) received 4 1/2 & 4 stars respectively from Down Beat Magazine and appeared on many “Best Recordings of 2014/5” lists including Down Beat, the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Reader, NYC Jazz Record and Magnet magazine. Russ will be releasing a new recording by his “Headlands” Quartet in 2017. Russ is also active as an educator/clinician, having taught at colleges and universities across the U.S. and Europe. He currently serves as Director of Jazz Studies at UW-Parkside where he won the university wide “Stella Gray” Teaching Excellence award in 2016.

  • Parkside Music Faculty James Kinchen

    James Kinchen
    Professor of Music and Director of Choral Arts

    James Benjamin Kinchen, Jr., is a Jacksonville native who has studied at Jacksonville University, Southern Illinois University, and the University of North Carolina Greensboro. Before coming to UW-Parkside, he has taught and conducted music in Florida, Illinois, Virginia, and North Carolina. Since 1989, Dr. Kinchen has served Parkside as Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities. He is driven by his passion for music and for people, and for bringing people together to experience excellence in the choral art. He has conducted on the stages of Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall in New York’s Lincoln Center. His choral travels have taken him to Germany, Italy, Poland, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Austria, Cuba, and India. He has served as President of Wisconsin Choral Directors Association and the North Central Division of American Choral Directors Association and is in frequently demand as a clinician, guest conductor, and adjudicator. He is a frequent presenter at choral and music conferences and conventions, presenting on interpretation of the “spiritual” and other topics of interest to choral teachers and artists. He is also a member of Chorus America, the International Federation for Choral Music, the National Association for Music Education, Center for Black Music Research, and National Collegiate Choral Organization. He has won teaching excellence, faculty service, and diversity awards. He directs the three university choirs: University Chorale, Voices of Parkside, and Master Singers, as well as Vocal Jazz Ensemble. He also teaches courses in conducting, choral conducting, choral/vocal materials and methods, music appreciation, and African American music. 

  • Laura Rexroth
    Assistant Professor and Director of Bands

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  • Parkside Music Faculty James Crowley

    James Crowley

    James Crowley is an American composer whose works have been performed throughout the USA, as well as in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Denmark, South Africa, South Korea, and India. His 2010 work 'Tableaux Vivants' was commissioned by the east coast ‘Duo Montagnard’, who toured the piece throughout the USA, Canada and Europe, and feature it on their most recent CD release entitled 'Messengers'. Crowley's 2008 composition 'From The Earth' was a prize winner in the Ravinia Music Festival’s first composition competition, and was toured on an east coast tour and throughout Illinois in 2009. Most recently, the guitar/bass duo 'Dez Cordas' commissioned and recorded a new work entitled 'Pilgrimage', which was released on the Summit CD label in spring 2015. Other commissions and awards have been received from the Music Teachers National Association, National String Teachers Association, American Music Center, and Meet-The-Composer. His music has been performed by the Minnesota Orchestra, the Eastman Wind Symphony, Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, and by members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Montreal Symphony, and Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Crowley earned his BM in Composition from the University of Illinois (Bronze Tablet – University Honors), and completed the MM and DM in Composition at Northwestern University. Formerly a member of the administrative staff of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, he also held a Teaching Fellowship at the Aspen Music Festival, and taught at Drury University. He is Professor of Music and Chair of the Music Department at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

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