University of Calgary

Joelle Welling

  • Professor (Teaching)

Research Interests



Joelle Welling is the Interim Head of the Department of Art & Art History and a Professor (Teaching) of Music at the University of Calgary. Three times the recipient of a U of C Teaching Excellence Award, Dr. Welling holds a Ph.D. in Music Theory from the University of Texas at Austin, where she also sang in the Austin Vocal Arts Ensemble.  In addition, she holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Music Theory), and the University of Colorado-Boulder (Voice Performance). Her principal voice teachers include Dr. Robert Harrison, Dr. Carol Anderson, Dr. Walter Foster and Bettina Bjorksten.  She has taught music theory at both McGill University and the University of Texas and voice and choir at the Medicine Hat College Conservatory. In addition she has published articles in College Music Symposium and GAMUT and presented papers at conferences throughout Canada and the United States. Dr. Welling’s research interests include the relations between analysis and performance, text-music relations, late 19th/early 20th-century song, and music theory pedagogy.   A former Associate Dean (Students) for the Faculty of Arts, Interim Director and Associate Director for the SCPA, and Division Chair of Music, Dr. Welling is also a Past-President of the Canadian University Music Society.


Conference Presentations

“Irony and the Composer's Voice in Wolf's Mignon II”

•  College Music Society, 49th Annual Meeting - San Antonio, Texas, September 13-17, 2006

•  West Coast Conference for Music Theory and Analysis - Vancouver, BC,  April 21-23, 2006

•  Rocky Mountain Society for Music Theory - Denver, Colorado, March 31-April 2, 2006

•  Accepted for the Canadian University Music Society Annual Meeting in Toronto (May 2006), but unable to attend

“Words and Music: Contradictory Messages in Strauss’s Capriccio”

College Music Society, 47th Annual Meeting - San Francisco, California, November 3-7, 2004

•  College Music Society, Rocky Mountain Chapter - Denver, Colorado, March 19-20, 2004

“Contextualizing Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites”

•  Grand Opera Club of Calgary, February 26, 2002

“Text and Music: Ironic Relations in Opera”

•  American Musicological Society, Pacific Northwest Chapter - Calgary, AB, March 30-April 1, 2001

“Wolf’s Mignon I: Dramatic Occasions for Analysis”                          

•  Georgia Association of Music Theorists & Music Theory SouthEast (Joint Conference) - Atlanta, Georgia, March 13-14, 1998

•  Texas Society for Music Theory - Huntsville, Texas, February 27-28, 1998 (received Herbert Colvin Award)


“The Music Theory Job Market”                

•  College Music Symposium, published by The College Music Society, Volume 39, Fall 1999 (co-authored with Cynthia Gonzales)

 “Wolf’s Mignon I: Dramatic Occasions for Analysis”

•  GAMUT, Journal of the Georgia Association of Music Theorists, Volume 9, Spring 1999 (full article version of paper read at conferences)

Grants received

March 2022 Alberta Founcation for the Arts, Arts Presenting Grant, to support Division of Music Concert Series (also received in 2021, 2020, 2019, and 2018)

October 2020 - City of Calgary Festival and Event Microgrant, to support live and streamed SCPA performances

June 2017 – Faculty of Arts Teaching Activity Grant, for Ralph Sauer Trombone Residency in the SCPA-Music Division

January 2006 – University of Calgary Special Projects Grants (co-applicant), for Department of Music New Music Festival and Symposium on Music in Canada

January 2006 – Grant from the Faculty of Fine Arts Centre for Research in the Fine Arts, for guest speakers at the Symposium on Music in Canada 

November 2004 – Travel Grant from the Faculty of Fine Arts Centre for Research in the Fine Arts, for travel to San Francisco, CA and College Music Society Annual Meeting 

March 2004 – Travel Grant from the University of Calgary University Research Grants Committee, for travel to Denver, CO and College Music Society, Rocky Mountain Chapter Annual Meeting

Fall 2002 – University of Calgary Short-Term Grant, for research costs related to work on Canadian composer, Oskar Morawetz’s songs

Fall 2000 – Weekend University Teaching and Course Development Innovation Grant, for development of new course on Opera Appreciation for non-music majors

Fall 1999 – University of Calgary Research Excellence Envelope, Start-Up Technology Grant, for technology purchases


The classes I teach are generally lecture-type courses and range in size from 1 or 2 students to 40 or 50.  For my teaching style, student involvement is absolutely necessary regardless of the size, type or level of the class.  In fact, I find that I am quite uncomfortable simply standing and talking for 50 minutes – I much prefer the give and take that student involvement brings.

A number of things contribute to student involvement and, as a result, a safe learning environment:

  1. A positive, physical environment: this includes not only things like temperature, light, windows, and general neatness, but also the proximity of the teacher to the students and a general atmosphere of respect (not only for the teacher, but the students as well). 
  2. Playing and singing assignments, discussing and revising assignments as a group, blackboard work (group composition, etc.): music theory perhaps lends itself to this approach more than other subjects as what better way to learn about music than to make it!
  3. Letting the students create a definition for a concept rather than being passively handed it: my hope is that this stimulates curiosity both in my course and in others.
  4. Use the students as teachers: have the students explain a concept to someone else, or work on in-class assignments in small groups: students are frequently able to explain concepts to their peers in ways that make those concepts  “click” in a way that I haven’t.
  5. Communication courtesies on my part: establishing eye contact, portraying enthusiasm, sincerity, a sense of humor, and establishing a rapport with individual students and whole classes are essential for creating an environment in which students feel safe to participate and learn.

I read somewhere that a distinction must be made between teaching (transmitting information) and learning (connecting the student’s mind to what the instructor is talking about).  For me, real learning takes place only when the students are actively involved in the teaching process.  The end result of active involvement generally leads to a passion for learning and that is really what I am after as a teacher.


  • PhD - Music Theory
    University of Texas at Austin, 2001
  • MMus - Music Theory
    University of Wisconsin, 1995
  • BMus With Highest Honors - Voice Performance
    University of Colorado, 1992
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