Dr. John D. Spilker

Assistant Professor of Music and Gender Studies
(402) 465-2291
jspilke2 [at] NebrWesleyan.edu
Rogers Fine Arts 304
Office hours: 

Spring 2016
Monday 7:30–8:30am
Tuesday 9–9:50am
Wednesday 2–3pm
Thursday 3–4pm

Feel free to stop by my office, or contact me to schedule an appointment at another time.

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Dr. Spilker enjoys learning alongside engaged students. In 2014 NWU awarded him the annual Exemplary Teacher Award. His teaching focuses on project-based inquiry and using course content to help students develop research, writing, discourse, and public speaking skills, along with perspectives on diversity. Informed by his experiences working as the faculty co-coordinator for New Student Programs, his teaching approach honors the rich connections between wellbeing, vocation, and personal development alongside intellectual development. Dr. Spilker has participated in student/faculty collaborative research projects utilizing fieldwork to investigate (1) the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington D.C. and (2) music and drag culture in New York City. Prior to his arrival at NWU in fall 2011, he taught undergraduate and graduate courses in music history, research methods, and world music at Oklahoma State University and undergraduate courses in music history, analysis of music literature, and music appreciation at The Florida State University.

Dr. Spilker specializes in American music, twentieth-century musical modernism, counterpoint, musical analysis, pedagogy, and the interactions between music and larger social and cultural topics (e.g. death, gender, and the environment). His research on Henry Cowell’s contribution to the development and dissemination of dissonant counterpoint are published in the Journal of the Society for American Music and American Music. His articles about musical works based on the biblical texts of King David’s laments for Absalom and Jonathan can be found in College Music Symposium and Essays in Honor of Dr. Jeffery T. Kite-Powell. His pedagogy research explores new approaches to music history course design, teaching writing, integrating courses with liberal education, assessment, and the facilitation of student-centered classroom activities. He has presented his research at the International Medieval and Renaissance Music Conference, the International Association of Music Libraries, national meetings for the American Musicological Society, the Society for American Music, the Society for Music Theory, the College Music Society, the American Culture Association, and the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Dr. Spilker currently serves as the faculty co-coordinator for NWU’s Academy for the Assessment of Student Learning, a project sponsored by the Higher Learning Commission. He is the chair of the Pedagogy Study Group for the American Musicological Society and founding chair of the Pedagogy Interest Group for the Society for American Music. He also co-founded the latter society’s Forum for Early-Career Professionals. He serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Music History Pedagogy and will co-organize the annual Teaching Music History Conference in 2016, 2017, and 2018.


Ph.D., Musicology, The Florida State University, 2010
Certificate in Early Music, The Florida State University, 2008
M.M., Musicology, The Florida State University, 2006
B.A., Music, Brigham Young University, 2004

Courses taught: 

Archway Seminar: Musicals as a Platform for Taboo Sexual Topics
Archway Seminar: Social Media and Wellbeing
Archway Seminar: Courage, Compassion, & Connection
American Music
World Music Cultures
Film Music
Sex and the Arts
Music History: Gender & Sexuality
Music History: Environment
Senior Capstone Seminar

Professional and community affiliations, certifications and awards: 

Society for American Music
American Musicological Society
Society for Music Theory
College Music Society
Pi Kappa Lambda
Mu Phi Epsilon