R. Colin Armstrong


R. Colin Armstrong

Born in Vancouver, Canada, Colin began his musical training as a trumpet player in public elementary school. He continued the trumpet through his Bachelor of Music in trumpet performance and Bachelor of Education (secondary music major, English minor) at the University of Lethbridge in southern Alberta. Upon completion of his undergraduate degrees, Colin taught band, choir and musical theater in various middle and high school programs in southern Alberta. In 1997, Colin was accepted into Canada's preeminent graduate choral conducting program where he studied with Leonard Ratzlaf at the University of Alberta. Upon completion of his M.M. in choral conducting in 2000, Colin taught middle and high school music and English with the Edmonton Public School Board for five years. During those years, he was the invited guest conductor of both the Edmonton Public School Board Middle (2002) and High School (2004) District Honor Choruses.

In 2006, Colin moved to the United States to pursue his DMA in choral music at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While there, he studied literature/history with Chester L. Alwes and conducting with Fred Stoltzfus. In his first year of studies, Colin was invited to present his research "Italian influence at the 18th-century St. Petersburg Court Chapel" at the 2007 ACDA National Convention in Miami. He also was invited to guest conduct at the 2007 High School Chamber Choir Symposium in Allerton, IL. Colin then became assistant conductor of the Varsity Men's Glee Club, which included a tour to Europe in May 2008. In 2009, Dr. Armstrong joined the music faculty of Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. During his four years at SU, he taught introduction to music, arts in education, ear training, choral methods, observed student teachers in choral placements, and conducted the SU Chorale.

Dr. Armstrong's musicology scholarship focuses on the historical development of Russian sacred music. In June 2010, thanks to a Susquehanna University faculty research grant, Colin went to St. Petersburg, Russia to search various archives and the Russian National Library for 18th-century sacred choral music. Within the field of music education, Dr. Armstrong's interests include improving young chorister literacy, computer applications for ear training, and music teacher training. He presented a session entitled Computer Applications to Connect the Ear to Written Music at the 2013 NAfME (National Association for Music Education) Eastern Division conference in Hartford, CT. He presented Finding Your Voice in Student Teacher Assessment: Asking for What YOU Need, Incorporating Literacy Skills into Your Choral Rehearsal, and Teaching Music to General Elementary Majors - Sharing Ideas at the 2013 PMEA (Pennsylvania Music Educators Association) Annual In-Service Conference in Erie, PA. He also presented his dissertation research West Meets East: Giuseppe Sarti's Influence on Russian Church Music at The Phenomenon of Singing International Symposium in St. John's Newfoundland in July 2013.

A fervent believer in the importance of creating critically thinking musicians and literate choristers at all levels, Colin incorporates sol feg and Curwen hand signs where appropriate in his rehearsals. He is also very passionate about exposing singers to early practice repertoire, particularly Renaissance and Baroque music. As a lover of languages, Colin tries to select music that will challenge singers to communicate in European, Asian and African dialects through sacred/secular music from contemporary and early eras. Colin is very excited to begin as the new Choir Director at Hartwick College and the Music Director of the Catskill Choral Society.