Michaelson Garrett

Garrett Michaelsen

Assistant Professor

College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Music Department
Durgin Hall - 422


Musicianship and Musicology

Research Interests

Improvisation, musical interaction, performance studies, computational analysis, transformational analysis.


  • Ph D: Music Theory, (2013), Indiana University - Bloomington, IN
    Dissertation/Thesis Title: Analyzing Musical Interaction in Jazz Improvisations of the 1960s
  • Other: MM Music Theory, (2008), Indiana University - Bloomington, IN
  • BA: English, (2002), University of Rochester - Rochester, NY
  • Other: BM Jazz Performance, (2002), Eastman School of Music - Rochester, NY


Garrett Michaelsen is Assistant Professor of Musicianship and Music Theory at University of Massachusetts, Lowell. His work as a teacher, researcher, and performer is focused on improvisation in music. He co-designed the Musicianship and Analysis sequence at UML around the ways improvisation can be used to learn music theory and develop ear training. His research theorizes about the interactive group processes that structure jazz improvisations. And his performances as a trumpet player involve improvisation in jazz, avant-garde, tango, and other musical styles.

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Excellence in Teaching Award (2018), Teaching - University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • David and Barbara Jacobs Fellowship (2012), Scholarship/Research - Indiana University
  • Wennerstrom Music Theory Associate Instructor Fellowship (2011), Teaching - Indiana University
  • Emerging Scholar Award (2009), Scholarship/Research - Echoes of Ellington Conference, University of Texas Austin
  • Elected to Phi Beta Kappa (2002) - University of Rochester

Selected Publications

  • Michaelsen, G. (2020). Teaching with Radical Optimism: Mastery Learning in Music Theory. Engaging Students, 7.
  • Michaelsen, G. (2019). Making “Anti-Music”: Divergent Interactional Strategies in the Miles Davis Quintet’s The Complete Live at the Plugged Nickel 1965. Music Theory Online, 25(3).
  • Michaelsen, G. (2018). Chord-Scale Networks in the Music and Improvisations of Wayne Shorter. GAMUT, 8(1) 123–188.
  • Michaelsen, G. (2016). Rhythm Changes, Improvisation, and Chromaticism: Who Could Ask for Anything More? Engaging Students, 4.
  • Michaelsen, G. (2014). Improvising to Learn/Learning to Improvise: Designing Scaffolded Group Improvisations for the Music Theory Classroom. Engaging Students, 2.
  • Michaelsen, G. (2013). Groove Topics in Improvised Jazz (pp. 176–191). Cambridge Scholars Publishing
  • Michaelsen, G. (2011). Review of Robert Hodson’s Interaction, Improvisation, and Interplay in Jazz (5:1 pp. 101–104). Jazz Perspectives

Selected Presentations

  • Interactional Listening: Between Holism and Atomism - Society for Music Theory Annual Meeting, November 2016 - Vancouver, CA
  • Improvisation, Interaction, and Interpretation: Relational Dynamics in Duke Ellington's "Money Jungle" - Society for Music Theory Annual Meeting, October 2015 - St. Louis, MO
  • Making "Anti-Music": Divergent Interactional Strategies in the Miles Davis Quintet's Live at the Plugged Nickel - Society for Music Theory Annual Meeting, November 2013 - Charlotte, NC
  • Chord-Scale Networks in the Music of Wayne Shorter - Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic, March 2013 - Philadelphia, PA
  • How "Free" is Free Jazz? Group Interaction in Ornette Coleman's "Peace" - Society for Music Theory Annual Meeting, October 2011 - Minneapolis, MN
  • Incorporating Improvisation into the Post-Tonal Aural Skills Classroom - Rocky Mountain Society for Music Theory , April 2011 - Colorado Springs, CO
  • Assessing the Influence of Instrumental and Vocal Timbres on Melodic Dictation Outcomes - International Conference of Music Perception and Cognition, August 2010 - Seattle, WA
  • Groove Topics in Improvised Jazz - West Coast Conference of Music Theory and Analysis, March 2010 - Eugene, OR
  • Ellington the Improviser: Group Interaction in the Money Jungle Recordings - Echoes of Ellington, April 2009 - Austin, TX

Selected Contracts, Fellowships, Grants and Sponsored Research

  • Open Text Materials Mini-Grant (), Grant - University of Massachusetts Lowell
    Michaelsen, G., Williams, A., Castillo, R.P.