Sharon Graf

Dr. Sharon GrafMeet Sharon Graf
Associate Professor,



  • B.A. Anthropology: University of Wyoming
  • B.A. Music: University of Wyoming
  • M.A. Ethnomusicology: Kent State University
  • Ph.D. Musicology and Ethnomusicology: Michigan State University


  • I have been a fan of folk music and jazz and, early on, I was really excited about ragtime. My mom was always listening to things What on earth is ethnomusicology?  It is the study of social and cultural aspects of music and dance in local and global contexts.  Pretty interesting, huh? on NPR and bringing home new music to listen to. I started
    playing the piano and entered a history day contest
    with a little
    project about Scott Joplin. It went all the way to nationals and the judges had to walk all the way across George Washington University in order get to the piano because I was the only one who used a piano. They were kind of hot and tired by the time they got to my program and I thought ‘I should play a smaller instrument.’ I’d been kind of interested in the fiddle anyway, so I picked that up. I got into ethnomusicology because I was fascinated with world music.

Research interests:

  • Folk music, jazz, Thai classical music, and I’m getting ready for a research project that I would like to do on South Pacific island music

Learning philosophy:

  • As head of the co-curricular music program, I’m trying to get students to learn to perform musical pieces from around the world and to learn what those pieces mean to people and how they use music to communicate.

UIS Music:

  • I’m the UIS chorus director and I play in the UIS orchestra. We
    are steadily building in both departments. We have all of our concerts archived so if anyone is interested A quote by Dr. Sharon Graf, "We care about our students."in finding out what that’s about they could go to our website to see the programs and the archives of our shows.

Advice for prospective students:

  • You need to pick a place where you’re comfortable. I think that’s one of the things UIS has going for it. We have a small student
    to faculty ratio so there are opportunities to work with professors closely. We care about our students. They can come to us with questions or for help and we encourage them to do that. We have state of the art technologies available for online learning, but we still have plenty of face-to-face classes. UIS has lots of hands-on opportunities for students that aren’t as accessible at larger schools.