Kelly Ford, Director of Choirs and Assistant Professor of Music

November 27, 2013

Areas of Expertise

Music professors at SJC need to be well educated in all aspects of music.  As a generalist in a liberal arts college, I have seen the benefits of showing students the connections that can be made between all areas of the music discipline, as well as other areas.  I think this ability to make students think critically, regardless of the content, and to make connections between what they learn in “my” courses and what they learn elsewhere on campus, is one of my areas of expertise.   I have extensive background in teaching sightsinging and eartraining, and am passionate about Catholic music, including chant and sacred polyphony.


BME  Central Michigan University - Double Majors in Vocal and Instrumental Music; MAE  Spring Arbor University; currently completing doctorate in Education from Nova Southeastern University 

Professional Background

Before coming to SJC, I taught for 20 years in public education throughout the state of Michigan.  I have taught every possible subject in music K-12, including vocal, instrumental, elementary music, jazz, history, theory, and musical theater.  I also played professional jazz keyboard and saxophone with several ensembles over the years.  I have been on the stage or directing musical theater for the past 30 years, and even got to try my hand as a background actor in several motion pictures.  I have also been an organist/director of music for Catholic parishes since 1983.

Tell us about your job at SJC 

In my time at SJC, I have taught Music History I-IV, Choral Conducting, Choral Arranging, Diction for Singers, Sightsinging/Eartraining I-IV, and given private lessons in saxophone and voice. I am Director of College Choirs, including Concert Choir, Chamber Singers, Vocal Jazz Ensemble, and Men of Saint Joe. I additionally plan to offer a course on Vocal Pedagogy in spring 2014. I am also responsible for recruiting of new students with an interest in music, regardless of their major.  Since 2010, the Concert Choir has grown from 33 members to nearly 90 in fall 2013.  The Concert Choir also performed in Italy in November 2013, including singing at the high Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City.

What motivates you to teach?

I am a proud fourth-generation teacher (my great-grandfather rode his bike to a one room schoolhouse every day).  Teaching, as much as music, is in my blood.  I have a desperate need to get ideas across, and it is only fitting that I should make a living doing what I love:  teaching and making music!  Our society is in need of excellent music educators in both public and private schools. I am glad to be a small part in making that happen.  I see students as an investment.  We invest the time, effort, energy, and they pay it forward!

Research Interests

I am currently conducting research on the infusion of Catholic identity on music programs at Catholic institutions of higher education.


I am, or have been, an active member of the Michigan School Vocal Music Association, Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association, Indiana State School Music Association, Music Educators National Conference, American Choral Directors Association, Church Music Association of America, and Centre International d'Etudes Liturgiques (CIEL) USA. I am a past board member with the Lafayette Symphony, and have also served as Youth Student Activity Chair for the Indiana Choral Directors Association. I am in frequent demand as an adjudicator and clinician with music programs throughout the Midwest.

Fun Fact

One of my most fun memories was spending 14 days on a movie set, working with actor Ed Helms for the movie Cedar Rapids. 

What is your favorite thing about SJC? 

I love the students!  The creative energy here is contagious. 


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