Shenandoah Conservatory announces the appointment of Tristan Blankenship, M.M.E., as visiting assistant professor of music education beginning August 2023. Blankenship succeeds Chair of Conservatory Academics Division and Professor of Music Education David S. Zerull, Ph.D., who retired at the end of the 2022/23 academic year after 33 years of service at Shenandoah.
“I am looking forward most to working with all of the wonderfully talented and dedicated students, faculty and staff at Shenandoah,” said Blankenship. “There is such a wonderful history here of music teaching and learning and I am honored to become a part of that history, find opportunities for collaboration and provide valuable knowledge and experiences for our students.”
Blankenship is currently an ABD–Ph.D. candidate at Penn State University (PSU) in the final stages of his dissertation, “Practices and Beliefs of Students, Teachers, and Administrators in K-12 Jazz Settings.” He holds a Master of Music Education and performance degree from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied percussion performance with Dr. Lance Drege and Dr. Andrew Richardson. Blankenship has studied wind conducting with Dr. Eric Hinton, Dr. Bradley Genevro and Dr. William Wakefield. He has completed music education research under and with Dr. Christopher Baumgartner and Dr. Linda Thornton. Blankenship’s primary research focuses on preservice music teacher preparation, jazz pedagogy and in-service music teacher professional development.
“We are thrilled to welcome Tristan to our music education team,” said Director and Professor of Music Education Stephanie Standerfer, Ph.D. “His experience as a public school instrumental teacher and as a researcher is invaluable. Our students will benefit from not only his experience, but also his interests in popular music, jazz and technology. I am looking forward to an exciting year ahead.”
At Penn State, Blankenship served as an instructor for music and recording technology for music educators, jazz improvisation classes, percussion techniques courses; a coach and drummer for PSU Jazz Combo X; and director of the Penn State Campus Band. He performs with the swing dance group Crooner & Co. Big Band at many venues within central Pennsylvania. Previous to Penn State, Blankenship spent his career as a high school and middle school band director in Oklahoma, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and also taught choir, musical theatre, music production, popular music classes and music appreciation classes. His experiences in the public schools have shaped his interest in curricular development and in-service teacher professional development. Blankenship’s bands are known for their top achievements at state festivals and contests, performances within the community, and commitment to personal and musical excellence.
Blankenship is a member of National Association for Music Education (NAfME), Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA), Percussive Arts Society (PAS), Jazz Education Network (JEN), College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA), Instrumental Music Teacher Educators (IMTE) and Society for Music Teacher Education (SMTE) where he helps with the Teacher Professional Development, Teacher Mentoring and Policy ASPAs. He continues to give clinics and professional development sessions at state and national music conferences and schools throughout the Northeast and Southern Plains. Presentations have included “Jazz Methods and Materials: A Learning Process Analysis,” “A Content Analysis of Jazz Pedagogy Courses for Music Education Majors,” “An Analysis of NAfME National In-Service Professional Development Conferences” and “Interaction Analysis of Preservice Music Teachers Instruction with an Elementary Honor Band.” Beyond his love for and dedication to teaching, learning and performing, Blankenship is an avid cyclist, kayaker and woodworker. He loves to share his cooking with friends and colleagues who often wonder when his food truck is going to open. Blankenship shares his home with his partner Annaliese and greyhound/boxer Cassie.