• Music

James Gutierrez

Visiting Assistant Teaching Professor

James’ mission is to realize the potential of music-making as a force for social change, community building, and personal well-being through teaching, research, and advocacy. He currently serves as managing director for Cambridge Common Voices, a neurodiverse choral collaboration between Harvard College and the Threshold Program at Lesley University, and previously served on the board for the Center for World Music, promoting the musical cultures of refugees in San Diego.

While a composer/arranger and touring rock/jazz keyboardist in Southern California, James pursued a PhD from the University of California, San Diego where he was a Cota-Robles Fellow, then a Frederick Douglass Teaching Scholars Fellow at Kutztown University, and previously studied audio recording at the Aspen Music Festival and School. His research explores music theory pedagogy, including embodied cognition of musicality and music learning.

In addition to teaching at NU, James is a regular Teaching Fellow at Harvard for a course entitled The Role of Music in Health & Education within the Mind-Brain-Behavior Initiative. Previously James has taught at UC San Diego, Chapman University, Kutztown University, Azusa Pacific University, and others.

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  • Ph.D. Music: Integrative Studies | UC San Diego
  • Master of Music Composition | Azusa Pacific University
  • Bachelor of Arts in Music Theory | Azusa Pacific University


  • Frederick Douglass Teaching Scholars Fellowship
  • Eugene Cota-Robles Fellowship

Research/Publications Highlights

Gutierrez, J. (2020) “Everyday Music Motivations for Adults 18-25 During the Pandemic.” Front. Psych. (under review)

Gutierrez. J. (2019) “An Enactive Approach to Learning Music Theory? Obstacles and Openings.” Front. Educ. 4:133. doi: 10.3389/feduc.2019.00133

Gutierrez. J. (2018) “Students Evaluate Music Theory Courses: A Reddit Community Survey.” College Music Symposium. Vol. 58, No. 2. https://doi.org/10.18177/sym. 2018.58.sr.11391

Research Interests

  • Composition
  • Music Cognition
  • Music Theory