Mary L. Cohen completed her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate of philosophy in music education at the University of Kansas and has ten years experience teaching general music and leading choirs in Lawrence and Kansas City areas.
Dr. Cohen has completed two levels of Orff-Schulwerk Training, participated in Dalcroze training, Laban Movement Analysis training, Creative Motion workshops, and Alexander Technique study. She has directed choirs of all ages, children through senior citizens. In her work with Arts in Prison, Inc. she taught an integrated art and music class at a maximum security prison, directed choirs comprised of prison inmates and community volunteers, recruited arts instructors, and helped new arts in corrections instructors begin teaching arts classes to inmates.
She has a joint position with the Teaching and Learning Department and the School of Music at the University of Iowa. Her general research area is choral singing and well-being with particular emphasis on music programs in prison contexts. She founded the Oakdale Community Choir, a combined group of men incarcerated at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center and female and male community members. She has implemented both writing and songwriting components with this choir and continues to explore the roles of such activities in people’s lives who are incarcerated. She has begun the Prison Partnership Program where she assists faculty and community members start short-term and long-term courses at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center. She also researches and facilitates group improvisation, examines the roles of movement theories in learning and improvising, and investigates historical and philosophical research inquiries. She has edited an issue of the International Journal of Community Music focusing on Criminal Justice and Music (issue 3.1 published in 2010) and her research is published in the International Journal of Research in Choral Singing, Journal of Research in Music Education, the Australian Journal of Music Education, Journal of Historical Research in Music Education, Journal of Correctional Education, the International Journal of Community Music, the Choral Journal, and a number of edited books.