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Where the most Inspired Musicians
become the most Inspiring Music Teachers

VanderCook College of Music

Faculty & Staff

Dr. Roosevelt Griffin

Walter Dyett Chair for Jazz Studies, Diversity, and Inclusion

Dr. Roosevelt Griffin III believes “being an educator is not a career, it is a lifestyle.” His approach to teaching is one that is intentional and full of care and love. He believes music education should be a vehicle to promote not only musical excellence, but also unity and diversity.

In 2017 he founded the Griffin Institute of Performing Arts NFP where the transformative abilities of the arts are used to lift the lives of students and families throughout southern Cook County and beyond. In addition, he serves as the Walter Dyett Chair for Jazz Studies, Diversity, and Inclusion at VanderCook College of Music, and he is the Youth Ensemble Director for the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic.

Dr. Griffin’s student-center approach to music education has been adopted by educators around the world. His belief is that a unified band room is just as important as musical excellence, and when they are both combined, the results are life changing. He has been recognized on many occasions for his methods contributions to the field of music education from a hometown street in Harvey, IL renamed “Roosevelt Griffin III Ave.” to a Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Golden Apple Foundation in 2014. He has received several additional honors: “Best Music Educator” Semi Finalist from the Grammy Foundation and Recording Academy, “Outstanding Alumni” award from Northern Illinois University Alumni Association, and “Distinguished Alumni” from Concordia University. Most recently, he received the “2022 John LaPorta Jazz Educator of the Year” from the Jazz Education Network and Berkley College of Music and the “2022 Think Big Educator Award ” from the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic.

His transformative approaches have also been highlighted in multiple publications including the ASCD video by Eric Jenson, Teaching with Poverty in MindTeaching Music Magazine, Downbeat Magazine and JazzEd Magazine. Griffin co-authored Teaching Music through Performance: Beginning Jazz Ensembles and Rehearsing the Jazz Band.

Griffin earned his BM in Music Performance (Tuba) and Illinois Teaching Certificate K-12 (Music) from Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, IL (2001). He completed his MA in School Leadership and

Type 75 Certificate from Concordia-Chicago (2011) followed by an EdD in Organizational Leadership at Argosy University in Chicago, IL including a sabbatical at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL (2015).


    The mission of VanderCook College of Music is to enrich the lives of present and future generations by developing uniquely skilled music teachers who exhibit strong character, professionalism, and a commitment to excellence.

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