PhD, Louisiana State University

Steven Morrison ’86 specializes in instrumental music teaching and learning, music psychology, and research methods and is an affiliate faculty member with the Cognitive Science Program. In his teaching and scholarship he emphasizes the connections between cognitive and sociological aspects of music-making as fundamental to the function and process of music education. Among his areas of research, he uses the setting of the music ensemble to examine how the integration of auditory and visual information informs judgments of musical expression, and how congruity and synchrony might be foundational components of the ensemble experience. Looking at music learning as a culturally situated phenomenon, he is exploring whether the construct of cultural distance might be an informative model for understanding the challenges teachers and students encounter when crossing musical boundaries.

Morrison’s articles have appeared in publications that include Music Educators Journal, Journal of Research in Music Education, Bulletin for the Council of Research in Music Education, Music Perception, Frontiers in Psychology, Music & Science, Update: Applications of Research in Music Education, Neuroimage, Southern Folklore, and the Oxford handbooks of Music Performance, Music and the Brain, Cultural Neuroscience, and Music Education. He is past editor of the Journal of Research in Music Education, for which he also served on the editorial board, and is an Associate Editor for Music Perception.

Before coming to Northwestern, he was professor and chair of music education at the University of Washington where he also conducted the UW Symphonic Band and was director of the Laboratory for Music Cognition, Culture and Learning. Morrison also previously served as lecturer of fine arts at the Hong Kong Institute of Education. He has spoken and presented research throughout the United States, as well as in Australia, China, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Italy, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Thailand, Denmark, and the United Kingdom. He was a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Cambridge.

Morrison holds a BM from Northwestern University, MM from the University of Wisconsin, and a PhD from Louisiana State University.

Selected Works/Publications


Morrison, S. J., Himes, A. D., Montemayor, M., & Springer, D. G. (2023). Is major minor? The relationship between music major status and a measure of musical sophistication. Journal of Research in Music Education.

Morrison, S. J. (2021). Bonds and signals underlie the music learning experienceBehavioral and Brain Sciences, 44, E84.

Meals, C. D., Morrison, S. J., & Confredo, D. A. (2019). The effects of temporal action-sound congruence on evaluations of conductor quality. Music & Science.

Kumar, A. B, & Morrison, S. J. (2016). The conductor as visual guide: Gesture and perception of musical content. Frontiers in Psychology 7, 1049.

Demorest, S. M., Morrison, S. J., Nguyen, V. Q., & Bodnar, E. N. (2016). The effect of contextual variables on cultural bias in music memory. Music Perception 33, 590-600.

Morrison, S. J., Price, H. E., Geiger, C. G., & Cornacchio, R. A. (2009). The effect of conductor expressivity on ensemble performance evaluation. Journal of Research in Music Education 57, 37-49.

Morrison, S. J. (2001). The school performance ensemble: A culture of our own. Music Educators Journal, 88 (2), 24-28.


Morrison, S. J., & Silvey, B. (2022). Conducting. In G. McPherson (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of Music Performance: Insights from Education, Musicology, Psychology, Science and Medicine.

Morrison, S. J., Demorest, S. M., & Pearce, M. T. (2018). Cultural distance: A computational approach to exploring cultural influences on music cognition. In M. Thaut & D. Hodges (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Music and the Brain.


Springing into Remote Learning

September 1, 2020

Steven J. Morrison joins Bienen School faculty

May 6, 2019

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