January 20, 2016: Dean’s Incentive Grants

To Members of the Peabody Community,

Last spring we announced the launch of a new program, the Dean’s Incentive Grants, designed to foster innovation, interdisciplinary initiatives and community connectivity, three of the four pillars identified in our Breakthrough Plan.  The Dean’s Incentive Grants funds up to $15,000 for up to five faculty initiatives and up to $5,000 for up to five student initiatives in each round of grants.

For this inaugural round, seven grants were awarded, three for students and four for faculty, from a pool of 27 applications.  I would like to also take this opportunity to thank the members of the selection committees who carefully evaluated each application and its fit with the grant criteria.  With that, we are delighted to announce the recipients of the first round of the Dean’s Incentive Grants and offer congratulations.



Jonathan Mo (BM double degree, saxophone and neuroscience)

Nathaniel McKeever (BM double degree, jazz trumpet and material science engineering)

Research project: What are the differences between on-the-spot and prepared improvisation?

Analyzes creativity by testing the hypothesis that jazz musicians given the chance to hear a chord progression and imagine or visualize an improvisation before playing it will perform significantly differently in terms of melodic-harmonic congruency, repetition, sequencing, and overall performance than those asked to improvise “on-the-spot,” with no advance exposure to the chord progression.


Rebecca Smithorn (DMA1, orchestral conducting)

The Listening Lab: A New Model for Orchestral Education Programming
Builds an interactive orchestral education concert that teaches students not just about the music, but
how to listen to music. Young audiences will learn listening strategies based on cognitive science, and come away with the tools to experience music in a focused, open, and immersive way.


Julien Xuereb (GPD 1, guitar)

Musician-in-Residence Pilot Project

Creates a pilot program to recruit and place Peabody students in residential senior/retirement communities, where the students receive free lodging and develop their performance skills while the residents benefit from regular live “in-house”music of the highest quality.

Selection Committee:  Joe Burgstaller, Linda Goodwin, Sarah Hoover, Jerry Klickstein, Gary Louie, Paul Mathews, Kyley Sommer



Joe Burgstaller, Conservatory trumpet faculty

Virtual Reality at Peabody

Gives prospective students, parents, and others the on-stage and in-studio Peabody experience using immersive, interactive virtual reality technology.

Interdisciplinary and Innovation

Zane Forshee, Chair of the Preparatory guitar faculty

Research Project: Impact of Weekly Guitar Lessons on Functional Movement and Well-being in Parkinson’s Disease Patients

Tests the hypothesis that Parkinson’s Disease patients participating in a six-week-long, twice-weekly guitar strumming class with rhythm, pitch, and movement elements will demonstrate significant improvement in quality of life, motor symptoms, upper extremity function, cognition, mood, and social participation.


Maria Lambros, Conservatory chamber music faculty

Peabody Student String Ensemble

Develops a member-led, 14-player string ensemble whose performances will take place exclusively in community venues, bringing the beauty of extraordinary music to our neighbors who are in challenging situations, such as cancer treatment, incarceration, substance abuse recovery and homelessness.

Innovation and Community

Vid Smooke, Conservatory music theory faculty

Hip Hop Music: Production, History, and Practice

Expands the Peabody curriculum to include a new, two-credit course taught by Wendel Patrick in which students will have the opportunity to create and perform hip hop works, study the techniques of today’s masters of the form, and learn about the socioeconomic trends that helped to shape both the music and the culture.

Selection committee: Fred Bronstein, Sarah Hoover, Paul Mathews, Paul Meecham (President and CEO of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra), Stephen Gange (Executive Vice Provost and Professor of Epidemiology at Bloomberg School of Public Health)