James Ray, DMA

Associate 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 is co-founder and music director of the Olympic Strings Workshop—a summer music intensive hosted at Olympic National Park. Dr. Ray’s previous experience includes twelve years as a school orchestra director, teaching students at all levels from beginners through award-winning high school ensembles.

Dr. Ray is a sought-after guest conductor, performance clinician, and adjudicator throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond. He has received repeated invitations as guest conductor with the Bellingham Symphony, as well as the Port Angeles Symphony, with whom he has also performed as a 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. He is also a contributing author to the recently published textbook, Teaching Instrumental Music: Contemporary Perspectives and Pedagogies.


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