Dr. Melissa Coppola, (she/they) is a queer, biracial Asian-American pianist, multi-instrumentalist, educator, and arts leader with a passion for cultivating community and collaboration.
Melissa has led a versatile performing career as a soloist, collaborative musician, multi-instrumentalist, and interdisciplinary artist, and is particularly interested in the synthesis of multimedia and narrative with live performance. They are the recipient of multiple awards and grants for their concert series, [perspective], which re-envisions the traditional piano recital as an immersive, multisensory experience. Her most recent [perspective] concert, Lights in the Sky: a virtual concert inspired by the cosmos, was produced in collaboration with the University of Michigan Planetarium & Dome Theater and Duderstadt Video Studio, which was premiered by the U-M Museum of Natural History in Summer 2021. Additionally, a self-taught drummer and singer, Melissa is half of the rock band, JUNGLEFOWL, whose songs have been licensed for sync placements in various commercials and campaigns. Most notably, in March 2021, JUNGLEFOWL’s song, Frontline, was placed by Hulu in their Take a Stand Against Hate campaign, which prompted a call to action against anti-AAPI racism.
A graduate of the University of Michigan piano pedagogy program, Coppola is an experienced teacher in both institutional and community settings; she has been on faculty at Webster University, Detroit Institute of Music Education, Metropolitan State University, Ann Arbor School for the Performing Arts, School of Rock, and the Piano School of New York. Coppola’s dissertation, Young People’s Perspective: Exploring Experiential Benefits of Interdisciplinary Performance for Adolescent Pianists, explores innovative ways of teaching group piano classes by fostering cross-modal understanding of music and involving students directly in the concert planning process. Her pedagogical research was sponsored by a Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship, one of the most prestigious awards granted by Rackham Graduate School. Melissa has presented at conferences hosted by the International Society of Music Education (ISME), College Music Society (CMS), the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, and Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) at the collegiate, state, national, and international levels.
An experienced arts administrator as well as performer, Coppola is Co-founder and former Executive Director of Girls Rock Detroit, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to fostering creative expression, positive self-esteem, and community awareness for girls, women, gender expansive, and transgender people through music education and performance. Currently, she is a member of the Nominating Committee of the Girls Rock Camp Alliance and has traveled around the country to volunteer as a teacher and band coach at camps in Chicago, Iowa City, and Durham, NC.
Melissa is committed to supporting young performing artists in finding their unique career paths, and is honored to step into the role of the EXCEL Lab’s Program Manager.