James Ray, DMA

Assistant Professor, Music Education


James Ray maintains an active and varied career as an educator, conductor, and violinist. He serves on the music faculty at Western Washington University where he teaches coursework in instrumental music education and music theory, and directs the WWU String Sinfonia. He also coaches chamber music with the Bellingham Youth Chamber Playersand collaborates with violinist Monique Mead as co-founder and music director of the Olympic Strings Workshop. Dr. Ray’s previous experience includes twelve years as a school orchestra teacher—most recently as director of award-winning orchestras at Port Angeles High School.

Dr. Ray is increasingly in demand as a guest conductor, performance clinician, and adjudicator. He is a frequent guest artist with the Port Angeles Symphony, with whom he has performed as a conductor, soloist, and guest concertmaster. Additional performance experience includes military service as a keyboard player, violinist, and assistant rehearsal conductor in the U.S. Army Reserve.

As a National Board Certified Teacher, Dr. Ray was selected in 2017 to join a select panel of educators from across the country, advising on appropriate music knowledge standards for future NBCTs. He has also worked at the state and national levels to address diversity, equity, inclusion, and access in the music classroom and within the teaching profession.

Dr. Ray’s research interests center on self- and group-referent efficacy beliefs, particularly with respect to music ensemble performance. His practical interests include engaging the music education profession in the work of antiracism, as well as the role of the secondary music educator as an influential force in the lives of students, and the school music program as a place of community. His peer-reviewed papers have been published in the American String Teacher and the Journal of Research in Music Education.


  • DMA, Music Education –  Boston University
  • MAT, Secondary Teaching – Western Oregon University
  • BM, Violin Performance – Central Washington University