John Reef


John Reef is a music theorist with particular interests in Bach and the Baroque period, Schenkerian theory and analysis, and theories of rhythm and meter. His article “Subjects and Phrase Boundaries in Two Keyboard Fugues by J.S. Bach” recently appeared in Music Theory Spectrum; he is a coauthor (with Severine Neff and David Forrest) of the annotated bibliography American Music Theory (1955–2017), part of the Oxford Bibliographies Online series; and he assisted editors Severine Neff, Maureen Carr, and Gretchen Horlacher with the preparation of The Rite of Spring at 100 (Indiana University Press, 2017), winner of the American Musicological Society’s Ruth Solie Award in 2018. Dr. Reef has presented at various regional, national, and international conferences, most recently including the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Rocky Mountain Society for Music Theory; the 2019 Music Analysis Conference in Southampton, UK; and the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Society for Music Theory. His current projects include a study of Bach’s energetic shaping of musical Gestalten as a form-generative process in Fortspinnung-based movements; a pedagogical article on Harry T. Burleigh’s spiritual settings; and a review of two new textbooks for the Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy.

At Nazareth College, Dr. Reef teaches core Music Theory and Aural Skills courses, a PEQ (Perspectives and Enduring Questions) course titled “Introduction to the Language of Music,” and upper-division courses on Form and Analysis, Counterpoint, Rock Music, and Film Music. He believes in learning through “risk-taking,” and in his classes he engages students in a variety of hands-on, explorative activities by which they become conversant in musical languages of the past and the present.

He holds degrees in piano performance (BM and MM, University of Maryland, College Park), musicology (MA, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), and music theory (PhD, Indiana University); in addition, he completed a doctoral minor in ethnomusicology. Outside of the world of music, he enjoys playing chess, making homemade pizza, and bicycling.

School of Music Responsibilities

  • Music Theory
  • Aural Skills


  • Indiana University, Ph.D.
  • University of North Carolina, M.A.
  • University of Maryland, M.M., B.M.