Dr. Bryan Helsel

Dr. Bryan Helsel - profile photo

Dr. Bryan Helsel


Dana School of Music & University Theatre

Bliss Hall



Bryan Helsel is Lecturer of Recording Arts at Youngstown State University, where he teaches courses in music technology, DAW lessons, operates the studio and administers the program of students including assisting senior projects and supervising recording internships. He earned his Ph.D. in Music Education from Kent State University, which featured additional emphasis on choral conducting and curriculum design. His research interests include music ensemble travel, music technology, and music literacy. His case study on ensemble tourism was published in the journal Excellence in Performing Arts Research, and he has been published multiple times in the PMEA Journal. He also holds a Master’s degree in piano performance from Duquesne university and bachelor degrees in music education and piano performance from Westminster College. He studied piano under David Allen Wehr and Dr. Nancy Zipay DeSalvo. Conducting teachers have included Dr. Scott MacPherson, Dr. Jerry Blackstone, Dr. James Jordan, Dr. Rollo Dilworth, and Dr. Paul Rardin.

Before joining the YSU faculty, Helsel taught music in Pennsylvania public schools for 26 years, serving as choir director at Butler Area Senior High School for 24 years, where he also taught piano, music theory and guitar, and created new curricula for courses such as recording and songwriting. Under his direction, choirs have received superior ratings at assessments and have been invited twice to perform at the Pennsylvania state conference. He was a quarterfinalist in the nominee process for the Grammy Award for music education. Additionally, he served two terms as music department chair for the district. Active in the arts in Western Pennsylvania, Dr. Helsel plays piano in the Butler Symphony Orchestra, has been organist at various churches, played trumpet in chamber settings and large ensembles, and he can be found playing recitals locally or playing jazz and pop music at Pittsburgh area venues and private functions. He is listed in “Who’s Who among America’s Educators” as well as “Who’s Who in America.” His professional affiliations include PMEA (Pennsylvania Music Educators’ Association), NAfME (National Association of Music Educators), TI:ME (Technology Institute of Music Education) and ACDA (American Choral Directors’ Association).

Helsel has composed several choral works and has released albums of his own contemporary music. He has appeared on public radio as a pianist, most recently on NPR’s From the Top (May, 2023). He has been the conductor for the community choir of Butler County, and he is in demand as accompanist and guest conductor at county and District festivals, most recently in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina. He has presented research and rehearsal strategies at state conferences in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and frequently presents on music technology. He has appeared as guest artist in concertos with Regional Symphonies and bands playing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, Concerto in F, I Got Rhythm Variations and Saint-Seans’ Carnival of the Animals. As a pianist and singer, Helsel has shared the stage with the likes of Shirley Jones and Garrison Keillor. Aside from teaching, performing and conducting, he owns and operates Helsel Music, a full production recording studio. He resides in Butler, Pennsylvania with his wife Heather and children, Colin and Elyse.

Research Interests

Music Ensemble travel, Sight-singing, choral rehearsal strategies, music technology pedagogy, mixed methods research

Teaching Interests

Music technology, recording, choir, piano, theory

  • Education
    • 2019

      Ph D, Music

      Kent State University

      Dissertation/Thesis Title — "Travel as experiential music education: Considering impacts on secondary band, orchestra, and choral programs"

    • 2003

      Other, Piano Performance

      Duquesne University

      Dissertation/Thesis Title — "Masters Recital"

    • 1997

      Other, Music Education Vocal

      Westminster College

  • Awards and Honors
    • 2014


      Grammy Award for education Quarterfinalist

      I was nominated by a student and went through the nomination process, where I was a quarterfinalist for this award.

    • 2010

      Who's Who

      Who's Who in America

    • 2010

      Who's Who

      Who's Who Among America's Educators

  • Administrative Assignments
    • 2016 - 2020

      Department Chairperson

  • Intellectual Contributions
    • 2019

      "Travel as experiential education"

      B. Helsel

    • 2019

      "A Case for mobile phone use in the choral classroom"

      B. Helsel

      PMEA Journal, volume February, 2019

    • 2018

      "Multicultural music aas a means to embrace plurality"

      B. Helsel

      PMEA Journal, volume May 2018

    • 2015

      "To tour or not to tour"

      B. Helsel

      Excellence in Performing Arts Research, volume 2, issue 2015