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Jarritt Ahmed Sheel

Former Assistant Professor
Affiliated Departments
Faculty Bio E-Mail

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In addition to having taught at Berklee College of Music, Jarritt Ahmed Sheel was a fifth-year doctoral candidate at Teachers College, Columbia University in the Music and Music Education Department. As a professional musician, he has toured internationally and worked with hundreds of students in high school band programs throughout Illinois, Florida, and New York. Sheel has taught music courses at the Aspen Award–winning Valencia College, New York University, and has taught collegiate level courses based on critical theory, art history, and democracy in the City University of New York system.

Sheel is a past ensemble director for the Youth Workshop Band as part of the Education Department at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. His research focused on the hip-hop movement (music, culture, and pedagogies) in music education and teacher training. He was a passionate advocate for arts education, a member of the National Association for Music Education’s Innovation Council, and on the board of the Association for Popular Music Education. He was a cofounder of the music resource website Hip-Hop Music Ed and a leader of social media dialogue around #hiphopmusiced.

Sheel was proud to be a son, husband, and father, and when he was not working, enjoyed time with family and friends.

Career Highlights
  • Performances with Burning Spear, Bright Dog Red, the BLUTET, and the Freedom Now Project
  • Recordings for SXSW EDU Conference and Festival (2018), Hip-Hop Music Ed Symposium (2018), National Association for Music Education Conference (2018), Association for Popular Music Education Conference (2016), International Society for Music Education Conference (2016), NYACTE/NYASTE Conference (2015), EdTPA National Conference (2014), and American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education Conference (2014)
  • Instruments include trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn, and turntables
  • Ed.M., Teachers College, Columbia University
  • M.M., Northern Illinois University
  • B.S., Florida A&M University
In Their Own Words

“I would like my students to walk away with deeper practical and philosophical understanding of what it means to teach students about aesthetics, being culturally relevant, being democratic participants, and good citizens—all while using music as the means instead of the ends. I want them to think critically, and to know what critical theory is, about the purpose of how, why, and what they are teaching, as well as the little hidden agendas that can be found in the curriculum. Simply put: to be aware.”

“I would like my students to come away feeling supported during my portion of their learning journey. Because much of my work focuses on critical thinking and the application of critical theory in my courses, I would like my students to walk away knowing that engaging with diverse perspectives is important for developing deeper understanding and ultimately the creation of a good teaching philosophy and practices.” 

“I’ve spent a lot of time working in a huge variety of learning and performing communities, and these very diverse experiences have helped me develop as a teaching artist and pedagogue. Those experiences helped me understand that true teaching shouldn’t always be rigid, but is flexible, and that knowledge as well as understanding is always in the making—never finished.”

“I have toured with an internationally renowned Grammy Award–winning artist and worked as a teaching artist in NYC. I have also led several small performing groups, recorded extensively, and taught K–12 instrumental music. All of these experiences have taught me that the progress of the music cannot supersede the development of the artist and the individuals tasked with its (re)production. As an artist, I am constantly reminded that there is no performance without an audience. I am also reminded that the music suffers without the progress of the player. With this in mind, in my role as teacher I am charged with facilitating the progression and development of my students, ultimately fostering human flourishing. Moreover, my professional background has taught me to see more than a collection of notes on a page, hear more than the errors, and feel more than the dynamics of the piece. My past has allowed me to see beyond what I once thought was the best of the art form, and to realize that music is truly a wonderful, diverse mode of expression. In my teaching, this means that I try to help students embrace and celebrate difference, challenging them to see what could be instead of what is.”