Katherine H.  Palmer, DMA

Curator of Education, Musical Instrument Museum

Gretsch Fellow in Children's Music, Fred Rogers Center

Executive Director, Daraja Music Initiative

Faculty Associate, Arizona State University

Clarinetist, Mill Ave Chamber Players



Ethnomusicologist. Music Educator. Museum Curator. Clarinetist.

Katherine Palmer enjoys a multifaceted musical career as a music educator, arts administrator, and performing musician.

Katherine is the curator of education at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix (AZ), where she is in charge of developing and teaching interdisciplinary, ethnomusicological content. Working with diverse learners from early childhood to older adults, Katherine has been instrumental in molding MIM’s educational approach and overseeing programming content related to MIMkids classes, field trips, professional development, volunteer docent training, and creative aging sessions. As an educator, Katherine also serves as a Faculty Associate in the Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts at Arizona State University and adjunct instructor at Paradise Valley Community College.

Passionate about early childhood and world music, she is currently the Gretsch Fellow in Children's Music at the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children's Media at St. Vincent College where she is investigating how diverse music making and listening can promote empathy and cultural awareness.

Katherine is the executive director of Daraja Music Initiative (DMI), a non-profit organization – registered 501©3 and international NGO – that provides music and environmental conservation education in the Kilimanjaro Region of Tanzania during the summer months to primary and secondary students. Aiming to bridge the arts and sciences, DMI promotes sustainability of African Blackwood trees from which clarinets – and other instruments – are constructed.

Additionally, Katherine performs with the Mill Ave Chamber Players, a Phoenix-based woodwind quintet, and has appeared with a variety of musical groups throughout Phoenix and Arizona, including Arizona Musicfest, the Phoenix Symphony, and the Phoenix Theatre Company. In addition to frequent national and regional appearances, Katherine has also presented papers, workshops, and performances at international conferences for the College Music Society, the Society for Ethnomusicology, the International Clarinet Association’s annual ClarinetFests, and the International Society for Music Education.

Katherine holds degrees from the University of Miami (BM) and Arizona State University (MM, MA, and DMA) in music performance (clarinet) and ethnomusicology.

"I'm passionate about joyful music making." - Katherine Palmer


Passions & Projects


Connecting people of all ages with world music cultures

Fostering joy and children's development through music and movement exploration

Early Childhood

Daraja Music Initiative

Bridging cultures and disciplines through music and environmental sustainability

Clarinet Teaching & Perforamnce

Making music with friends and teaching fundamentals to foster musical freedom

Residencies and Guest Lecture Opportunities

Katherine works with diverse audiences, from early childhood through higher education, and is available for residencies and guest lectures on the following topics:

  • Making Music Tangible - Ethnomusicology + Music Education + Object-Based Learning

  • Building Interdisciplinary Non-Profits - Music Education + Environmental Sustainability + Social Change

  • Navigating Applied Fields - Ethnomusicology + Music Education

Passport to Music: Around-the-World Instrument Creation

Grades: PreK-8

Travel around the world through music while making cross- cultural connections through object–based learning. During this variable length artist–in–residence, Katherine will engage students in developmentally appropriate music making and instrument crafting. Students will gain a deeper understanding of musical traditions and culture, create instruments to take home, and participate in international song and dance.



I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to reach out with questions. 

Phoenix, Arizona, USA

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“As a consultant to museum education programs all over the world, I have seldom
seen such promising early childhood
education practice emerging at a major
museum as I have seen being developed at the Musical Instrument Museum. Children really are our future, and MIM is becoming a leader in the future of cultural institutions taking their ongoing relationships with young learners seriously—and filled with joy.”

Arnold Aprill

Art & Learning Consultant

Founder, Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education

The Tigers were truly delighted to participate in a music lesson with Ms. Katie (our visiting music artist in residence). Ms. Katie created a warm and comfortable environment with her  wonderful and joyful style of teaching that captured each child’s joyfulness. Through the lesson, the children explored colors, shapes, hand eye coordination, patterns, counting, creativity, listening skills, and movement. Thank you Ms. Katie for starting out our week with such fun, laughter, and learning.

Early Childhood Educator

International School of

Kuala Lumpur

[Classes are] informative, dynamic, interactive, and FUN. [We] love the structure, theory, museum visit, and hands-on instrument building.

MIMkids Caregiver

Musical Instrument Museum