Get to Know: John Spilker, Assistant Professor of Music

With an enthusiastic passion for all things music and a background in musicology, new music professor John Spilker says he wants to bring new perspectives and creative ideas to Nebraska Wesleyan.

Growing up, Spilker loved singing and musical theatre. In high school he sang in the choir and starred in his school’s production of Fiddler on the Roof. This early introduction to the musical arts is what instilled his drive for further study.

Spilker completed his undergraduate studies at Brigham Young University where he was a chemistry major for three years. After taking a music appreciation and art history class, he was inspired to devote his life and learning to the study of music. Spilker graduated from Brigham Young with a degree in music theory and choral conducting. He continued his graduate studies at Florida State University where he was introduced to the field of musicology, the study of music from a historical and cultural perspective. He earned a Master of Music and a Ph.D. in Musicology.

After deciding to teach at the collegiate level, Spilker knew that he wanted to work at a small liberal arts institution. Nebraska Wesleyan was exactly what he envisioned.

“I love the interconnectivity that the school offers,” he said. “It’s unique how every course offered here ties in and relates to all of the other courses.”

Spilker said the University’s core values also drew him to the campus.

“I’m excited to help carefully mentor students at a high standard,” he said. “I think that is what Nebraska Wesleyan is all about.”

What else is Spilker looking forward to? He is currently working on a film music course and a LAS course that will focus on avant-garde music styling and “everything weird or eccentric about music since World War II.” He would like to see this LAS course include a summer study abroad opportunity that would examine musicals in London and New York. Spilker is also excited about his article that will soon be published in The Journal for Society of American Music and the research he is presenting for the Society for Music Theory.

  • Favorite Artist: Matisse and Edward Hopper
  • Favorite Musician: Madonna, Lady Gaga, J.S. Bach
  • Favorite TV Shows: Will & Grace, Criminal Minds
  • Favorite Musicals: 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Wicked, Les Miserables


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John Spilker is a new assistant professor of music and specializes in musicology.