Bret Smith is a teacher educator, conductor, and cellist who specializes in instrumental music education. He holds degrees in music and systematic musicology from the University of Washington,where he worked with James C. Carlsen and Barbara Reeder Lundquist, and a Master of Music and Doctor of Philosophy in music education from the University of Michigan, where his mentors were Robert L. Culver, James O. Froseth, Richard J. Colwell, and Anthony Elliott. He teaches courses in string pedagogy and methods, curriculum and assessment, music theory, and the psychology of music, as well as serving as faculty advisor and Master Teacher for the CWU Preparatory Strings program, which received a National String Project Consortium grant through the NAMM Foundation in 2008.
Dr. Smith taught instrumental and vocal music from elementary to high school in Washington state, and was a member of the faculty of the University of Maryland School of Music. He has served on the Executive Boards of the Washington and Maryland Music Educators Associations, and the faculty of the Maryland Summer Youth Music camp and the Laughing Horse Youth Orchestra Festival. He has conducted numerous honor orchestras, including the Prince George’s County High School Honor Orchestra in Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center. He has participated in the Aspen and Marrowstone music festivals, the International Institute for Chamber Music, and the International Workshop, where he studied conducting with William LaRue Jones and Marvin Rabin. His presentations include the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic, the Eastern and Northwest Division conferences of the National Association for Music Education, the American String Teachers Association national conference, the West Virginia, Colorado, and Washington Music Educators Association state conferences, the Asia- Pacific Symposium on Music Education Research, Integrating Curriculum, Theory, and Practice: A Symposium on Assessment in Music Education held in Gainesville, FL, and the Violin Society of America national conference. He frequently provides in-service sessions in the public schools, adjudicates orchestra festivals, and serves as a consultant for private and public arts organizations. He is currently a Research Advisor for the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards and past chair of NAfME’s Special Research Interest Group on Assessment.
Smith is co-author, with James O. Froseth, of the innovative string method Do It! Play Strings published by GIA Publications. In addition to incorporating sequential pedagogy into authentic, diverse musical repertoire, he performed all the cello models and produced and mixed the 8 CDs that define the curriculum. His research interests include student motivation and personal investment in instrumental music study, personality and music teaching and learning, and the assessment of musical learning. He has published articles in Psychology of Music, Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education, the Journal of Research in Music Education, and the American String Teacher and contributed chapters to all three volumes of the popular book series Teaching Music Through Performance in Orchestra.
Since 2010, Bret Smith has been part of the production team for Synergia Northwest and served as arranger, performer, and orchestra conductor for these unique benefit concerts. The 2012 Music Matters Live! event focused on Washington State’s specialty license plate approved by the Legislature that year. These concerts bring together student and professional players as well as some of the region’s stellar contemporary artists. Past collaborators include Alan White (Yes, John Lennon), Tracy Bonham, John Popper, Queensryche, Vicci Martinez, LeRoy Bell and His Only Friends, Geoffrey Castle, BRAD, Howard Leese, Roger Fisher, Steve Fossen, Michael DeRosier, Somar Macek, Caspian Coberly, and many more.
He enjoys performing as a member of the Yakima Symphony Orchestra cello section, on electric cello with several pop, rock, and folk groups, on tenor banjo in the early jazz duo RetroPotential and the Dixieland band Crash and the Invaders, as the lead guitar player in the classic rock band Short Term Memory, and various instruments on numerous recording sessions. He frequently collaborates in other ensembles with CWU colleagues on cello, baroque cello, bass, guitar, mandolin, and banjo.