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Dr. Amanda Draper Selected for the Gretsch Fellowship in Children’s Music at the Fred Rogers Institute

by Public Relations | December 14, 2022

LATROBE, PA – Accomplished Assistant Professor of Music Education Dr. Amanda Draper has been selected as the 2022-2023 Fellow of the Gretsch Fellowship in Children’s Music at the Fred Rogers Institute at Saint Vincent College. 

With generous support from Fred and Dinah Gretsch and their family, the Gretsch Fellowship in Children’s Music was created to conduct research and develop best practices in music experiences for children within the ethos and vision of the Fred Rogers Institute and its mission to “advance the legacy of Fred Rogers by investing in the strengths of families and caring adults to support the healthy development of children.” 


“The Fred Rogers Institute is grateful to Fred and Dinah Gretsch for their continued support in sponsoring the Gretsch Music Fellowship in Children’s Music,” said Dr. Dana Winters, Executive Director of the Fred Rogers Institute. “Dr. Draper was selected from applicants representing the United States and Europe. We look forward to working with Dr. Draper as she carries forward the legacy of Fred Rogers through her proposed project to engage children, families and their communities in celebrating the role of musical expression, especially for children with disabilities and special needs.” 

Amanda Draper, who began her one-year fellowship in September 2022, holds a bachelor's degree in Music Education from Coe College and a master's as well as a Doctorate in Music Education from Northwestern University where she specialized in Cognitive Science and Special Education. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Music Education at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. In her role, Draper designs and implements student-centered curriculum and manages practicum teaching experiences for graduate and undergraduate students in courses such as Inclusive Participatory Music Practices. 

Prior to her work in academia, Draper taught elementary and middle school general music for 10 years, most recently for Chicago Public Schools. This included working with students with autism in both inclusive and self-contained settings.  

Draper’s academic interests include investigating musical experiences for diverse learners with a focus on music and autism research, disability studies in music and teacher preparation for special music education. She has presented regionally, nationally and internationally to both academic and educator audiences. She has also published several journal articles focused on these topics. 

“An important part of my work now is cultivating and advocating for practices that offer relevant, valuable musical opportunities that engage ability rather than highlight disability of student musicians,” said Draper. She added that through this fellowship, she hopes to “make a lasting contribution that advances the legacy of Fred Rogers and ensures that the lives of children of all abilities are enriched through musical participation.”  

As a Gretsch Fellow, Draper will examine the Fred Rogers Institute archives for artifacts that illuminate Fred Rogers’ approach to inclusivity for people with disabilities. “I am particularly interested in Rogers’ use of music to reinforce the messages of competence, ability and acceptance.” Draper plans to use her research to develop workshops for practitioners to support ability-oriented participatory music-making activities such as singing, playing and improvisation that encourages students to explore and celebrate abilities and creativity for themselves and their peers. She will also publish her work as scholarly research in academic journals.  

About the Fred Rogers Institute 

Fred Rogers famously encouraged children to look to the helpers. After decades on television as a beloved neighbor, he shifted his focus to those helpers¾to the adults who serve children with their lives and careers. Fred envisioned a place where aspiring and current educators, medical professionals, business owners, researchers and more could “think of the children first” in their pursuits. He found a home for his Archive and this vision at Saint Vincent College in his childhood hometown of Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Since 2003, the work of the Fred Rogers Institute has grown and deepened in the small town Fred called home, in the western Pennsylvania region and across the United States and world. The work of the Fred Rogers Institute is inspired by the mission to advance the legacy of Fred Rogers by investing in the strengths of families and caring adults to support the healthy development of children.  

About Gretsch 

With its emphasis on handcraftsmanship and commitment to quality over a storied 135 years and counting, Gretsch is globally recognized as a manufacturer of the world’s finest guitars and drums. Over the years, “That Great Gretsch Sound” has earned endorsements for some of the music industry’s most respected artists from Chet Atkins and George Harrison to Bono and Brian Setzer. Led by fourth generation CEO Fred Gretsch and CFO Dinah Gretsch, the family supports educational and philanthropic initiatives that champion enriching lives through participation in music.