Music student awarded Perry R. Bass Fellowship

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - 19:21

A former teacher, who worked to create a fine arts middle school in Austin and is now working toward her doctorate at UNT’s College of Music, has been awarded the 2013-14 Perry R. Bass Fellowship.

The fellowship will help Michelle Herring continue her doctoral work and participate in ensembles to further her music practice and rehearsal technique.

The fellowship honors the memory of Perry R. Bass, a successful leader and businessman from Fort Worth whose family continues his dedication to the arts community. Music students from UNT and other Fort Worth area universities who are working on master’s or doctoral degrees are eligible to apply for the fellowship. This year, four students – including two from UNT – applied for the fellowship.

“In her application, Michelle wrote about helping to turn around a middle school in Austin by making it an arts-centered school that was culturally relevant to a diverse population,” said Sue Buratto, Director of Education at Bass Performance Hall. “As the choir director, she was instrumental in the planning and execution of a new fine arts academy, which has allowed the school to grow and thrive. All of the Perry R. Bass Fellowship applicants were quite admirable; however, the committee found that Michelle’s plan and interview were the most impressive.”

As the choir director for Lamar Middle School in Austin, Herring noticed that while the general school enrollment was declining, the enrollment in fine arts-related activities – such as choir and band – was increasing. She proposed that the school become a fine arts academy and spoke at PTA and school board meetings to refine her proposal to meet the community’s needs. In December 2010, the academy status was approved.

“By February, we had received hundreds of applications from students in our neighborhood,” Herring said. “This was a labor of love for the community, school and students.”

Herring taught public school from 2004 to 2012 and initially came to UNT to earn a master’s and pursue work in school administration.

“As I was working on my master’s I found I enjoyed the idea of teaching future teachers. I felt I could make a greater impact on children by helping create better teachers,” said Herring, who then decided to pursue her doctorate.

Once she has her doctorate, Herring hopes to both teach undergraduates and present workshops to public school teachers. Workshops for teachers in public schools are important in order to inform them about research that they may not otherwise be able to access, said Herring.

Herring, a vocalist, notes that the fellowship will give her financial freedom so that she won’t have to work as much, thereby allowing her the ability to perform in ensembles at UNT.

About the Perry R. Bass Fellowship

Established in 2006, the Perry R. Bass Fellowship recognizes a student seeking a graduate degree in music. Students who apply should demonstrate excellence in their areas of performance or strong scholarly research in music education, with career aspirations in performance or education. The fellowship provides funds of up to $5,000 per year, which may be renewed once based on evidence of excellent achievement and progress toward and advanced degree. Find more information at

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