Michael Callahan Associate Professor of Music Theory and Chair of the Music Theory Area


  • Music Theory

413 Music Practice Building
East Lansing, MI 48824

(517) 353-6607


Michael Callahan is associate professor of music theory in the College of Music at Michigan State University.

Callahan has been the recipient of MSU's prestigious Teacher-Scholar Award (2014), recognizing outstanding achievement among early-career faculty, and was a Lilly Teaching Fellow (2013-14), one of seven in a university-wide cohort dedicated to exploring the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. This fellowship, along with a Humanities and Arts Research Program grant (2013-14), has permitted him to design a new curriculum that infuses active, hands-on music making into all of his undergraduate and graduate music theory teaching. He is currently working on a book that would make this approach available more widely.

His research interests include music theory pedagogy, particularly as it intersects with performance and improvisation; eighteenth-century counterpoint; and the Great American Songbook. He has published articles in Music Theory Online, Theory and Practice, Integral, the Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy, and Music Performance Research, and has additional work forthcoming in Music Theory Online and Music Theory Spectrum.

Callahan earned a B.A. in music, summa cum laude, from Harvard University (2004) and both an M.A. (2008) and a Ph.D. (2010) in music theory from the Eastman School Music, where he was awarded the Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Teaching by a Graduate Student, the Jack L. Frank Award for Excellence in Community Teaching, the Teaching Assistant Prize, and the Alfred Mann Dissertation Award.

He is strongly committed to outreach and engagement, and regularly shares his insight about musical works with concert audiences in the Lansing area. In addition, he performs regularly on harpsichord and piano