Our sincerest congratulations goes out to Joanna Cortright who is being inducted into the Minnesota Music Educators Association Hall of Fame for her significant career contributions to music education in Minnesota and beyond! Joanna is a founding consultant and curriculum writer for our BandQuest and ChoralQuest programs, and we’re incredibly grateful for her years of thoughtful vision, expertise, and creativity.

About Joanna

Born and raised in Michigan, Joanna Cortright attended the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), earning a bachelor’s degree in music and music education. She moved to Minnesota shortly after graduation. Minneapolis Public Schools offered her a job as a Classroom Music Demonstration Teacher; in those ancient times classroom teachers taught the elementary music curriculum with support from district specialists. Working in Minneapolis sparked a long-term interest in teaching in urban schools.

Within seven years, Cortright was taking her own young daughters to MacPhail Center. One attended Musical Trolley while the little one played in the lobby. The next year Joanna was teaching in MacPhail’s Early Childhood Program. The teaching affiliation with MacPhail Center for Music, a community music school, provided another perspective about where music education happens and kindled future relationships with Minnesota music performance organizations. Joanna served as the state of Minnesota Music Education Specialist at the Perpich Center for Arts Education from 2000 to January of 2006. Prior to that, she was the first arts coordinator and music specialist for the newly opened Linwood A+ Elementary School, a Saint Paul arts-centered elementary school.

Over the years, Cortright’s work with community music organizations included curriculum development, project and program planning and assessment, assisting musicians to create strategies for teaching in schools, and aligning programs with school music standards. Cortright developed and narrated Kinder Konzerts, a children’s concert program sponsored by WAMSO (now FRIENDS of the Minnesota Orchestra) and the Minnesota Orchestra for 31 years. She was an artistic partner with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra for 14 years, creating and narrating the Start the Music concert series for families with young children. She has hosted more than a thousand educational concerts for children, working to build bridges between young listeners, musicians, teachers, parents/grandparents, and music.

Cortright provided professional development workshops for the Minnesota Orchestra’s Young Persons Concerts, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s CONNECT program, the American Composers Forum, and the Duluth/Superior Symphony Orchestra. From 1996 to 2005 she developed and directed the Arts-Infused Teaching and Learning Institute, a joint project of the University of Minnesota and the Perpich Center for Arts Education. She is a co-author of the American Composers Forum’s BandQuest and ChoralQuest curricula and the VocalEssence WITNESS program.

A frequent speaker and presenter, she has appeared at numerous music education conferences, seminars, workshops, and college classrooms throughout the region. She holds an MA in Music from the University of Minnesota. And in 1995 the Minnesota Music Educators Association presented her with the Classroom Music Educator of the Year Award.

Joanna is married to Richard Cortright; they have two adult daughters, Meg and Amy.

To learn more and download the curricula that Joanna has written for us over the years, click here.