Jerry Rife

Faculty / Jerry Rife
Office Location 
Fine Arts 149
Mailing Address 
2083 Lawrence Road, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648
Headshot of Jerry Rife

Dr. Jerry Rife is Professor of Music at Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ, where he teaches music history courses and is the Director of Bands. He has been the Chairman of Music in the Fine Arts Department since 1984 and taught graduate-level musicology courses at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ, since it became the School of Music of Rider University. In 1990, Dr. Rife received the Lindback Award for Excellence in Teaching. He holds a Ph.D. in musicology from Michigan State University, a Masters of Music in Clarinet Performance and an undergraduate degree in Music Education from Kansas State University. Before coming to Rider University, Dr. Rife was an Assistant Professor of Musicology at Michigan State University and taught doctoral- and masters-level musicology courses and the undergraduate music history curriculum. He studied clarinet with Fred Ormand, the past president of the International Clarinet Association, Elsa Ludwig-Verdehr of the Verdehr Trio, Clark Brodie of the Chicago Symphony, George Silfies of the St. Louis Symphony, and Frank Sidorfsky at Kansas State University.

Dr. Jerry Rife has been the conductor and musical director of the Blawenburg Band since 1985. Under his guidance the band has grown from a small town band in the 1980s to a 70-member musical organization that performs over 30 concerts each year. Dr. Rife’s leadership has moved the band into a position of prominence in the state of New Jersey with concert performances at Richardson Auditorium on the Princeton University campus, the Sousa Centennial Ceremony in 1992, and at the White House in Washington, D.C. In 1993, he received a New Jersey State Senate Resolution honoring the band for their outstanding musical performance and service to their community. In 1998, Dr. Rife assumed the post of conductor and music director of the Raritan Valley Symphonic Band in Hillsborough, NJ. As director of these bands and of the Rider University bands, he brings his enthusiasm for performing and a great love of band music to audiences in nursing homes, community events, and the concert state.

Dr. Rife has been a contributing writer for the Saxophone Journal since 1988 and has reviewed performances and recordings for Jazz Player Magazine. The music of Florent Schmitt is a special interest of Dr. Rife, and he has published several articles on Schmitt and his compositions including the Schmitt article for the 7th Edition of the New Groves Dictionary of Music and Musicians (forthcoming). Dr. Rife studied mouthpiece adjustment and refacing with Everett Matson. He was the Associate Producer of the documentary film “If You Knew Sousa,” a 90-minute film funded by WGBH public television in Boston and aired as the flagship show of The American Experience to an estimated national viewing audience of six million people.

Dr. Rife is extremely active as a performer of solo, recital, orchestra, and jazz music on the East Coast. He has guest conducted and adjudicated at band festivals, published numerous articles on band music, is a respected lecturer in the community, and has served as the state chairman of the College Band Directors National Conference. He is the concert master of the nationally famous professional Virginia Grand Military Band, which has recorded over 55 CDs to date, and he has guest conducted that organization. His traditional jazz band, The Rhythm Kings, has performed regularly for 25 years averaging 100 performances each year. Dr. Rife is also a member of the John Johnson Trio and Blue Skies, a swing jazz quartet. He lives with two other musicians, his wife and daughter, in Ewing, New Jersey.

Dr. Rife encourages you to visit the following sites: