Jennie Dorris is a percussionist, writer, and researcher based in Pittsburgh.
She is a Research Associate at Carnegie Mellon University, where she heads the Music and Community Connection Lab studying music's effect on health. She has developed music programming for the BriTE program, where artists and scientists work together to create effective programming for those with changes in their cognition. She has also developed music programming for Dementia360, a care coordination program for caregivers of those living with Alzheimer's. She is a PhD candidate in Rehabilitation Science at the University of Pittsburgh. She was a featured guest on Science Friday discussing the cognitive benefits of music for those living with changes in cognition.
Her most recent research, Project Unmute, is a digital intergenerational music program that connects adolescent musicians and older adults facing memory loss. Project Unmute received Research Grants in the Arts funding from the National Endowments of the Arts in 2022. Research about Project Unmute has been published in Music and Medicine and the Journal of Intergenerational Relationships. She presented on the project at the 2021 Engaging Humanities in Health Conference at the University of Pittsburgh. Previously, she taught group marimba classes for older adults with memory loss, and received a Lifting Lives grant from the Academy of Country Music to study the effects of playing the marimba and reading music on spatial skills. She presented on this study at the 2020 Gerontological Society of America's Annual Scientific Meeting, and her research was published in Music and Medicine.
As an artist, Dorris was named "Who's Next" as a musician defining the new Pittsburgh sound. She has pioneered a Musical Storytelling performance technique that she has performed across the country and is now used in schools, cancer centers, and nonprofits. She received a Best of the Creative Industries Award for the top Art + Technology project for Musical Storytelling. Her multimodal Telling Stories program, developed for the Denver School of the Arts, was featured on “From the Top." Her podcast series, Telling Stories, which mixed music and personal stories from students at The Neighborhood Academy, was named a finalist for the Media and Entertainment project of the year. She was named a Westword Mastermind, an award giving to Denver artists who are changing the cultural landscape of the city.
She is one of the founding members of the Steeltown Songbirds, a classical-folk trio comprised of marimba, violin, and bass. She has performed with Pittsburgh's Hip Hop Orchestra, Resonance Works, Alia Musica, Guardians of Sound, the Seraphic Singers. She has also performed with Shelter Music Boston, Boston Landmarks Orchestra's Notes in the Neighborhood, New England Philharmonic, Mercury Orchestra, Colorado Ballet, Colorado Music Festival, Colorado Springs Philharmonic, Fort Collins, Symphony, Boulder Philharmonic, and Greeley Philharmonic, as well as the Boulder Brass, The Brass Roots, Crusic Percussion, Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, and the Colorado Chamber Orchestra. An active national recitalist, she created an interdisciplinary program with flutist Nicole Riner titled “Backstage,” featuring original writing read live during the chamber recital, as well as a program with saxophonist Scott Turpen mixing chamber music with creative nonfiction and film.
She has written for Boston Magazine, Real Simple, Entrepreneur, Pittsburgh Magazine, Pittsburgh Quarterly, Consumers Digest, Mountain Sports +Living, Rocky Mountain News, Field & Stream Magazine, Better Homes & Gardens, 5280 Magazine, Colorado Biz Magazine, Draft Magazine, Women’s Magazine, Natural Solutions Magazine, Delicious Living, Daily Camera, dirt, and Boulder County Business Report. She wrote a daily blog for 5280 Magazine about living an affordable, sustainable life.
Her feature "The Audition" for Boston Magazine was a finalist for a City and Regional Magazine Association feature writing award and featured on NPR's All Things Considered. Her co-written package "The Newcomer's Guide to Pittsburgh" was a finalist for a City and Regional Magazine Association service award.
Jennie was on faculty with Carnegie Mellon University’s Preparatory School as its percussion instructor and teaches courses in Creative Expression, Community Engagement, and Percussion Ensemble. She was a teaching artist through the Pittsburgh Symphony’s Meet the Maestro program, where she has performed and taught interdisciplinary programs that weave music into the environment, the solar system, and film. She has taught at the University of Colorado-Boulder, developed coursework for the University of Denver, and held teaching positions at Red Rocks Community College and the Community College of Denver.
She has been featured as a researcher and artist in the Daily Mail, Medical News Today, Martha Stewart, MSN.com, Yahoo.com, the Boston Globe, NJ.com, Symphony Magazine, WESA, The Incline, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Carnegie Mellon University's The Piper, University of Colorado's Colorado Music Magazine, Quincy’s Patriot Ledger, 5280 Magazine, Rocky Mountain News, Denver Post, Daily Camera, Colorado Daily, Westword, Colorado View, Coloradan Magazine, and Music from Colorado.