Music Education Pioneer Carroll A. Rinehart Passes Away

Music Education Pioneer Carroll A. Rinehart Passes Away


NAfME Lowell Mason Fellow Carroll A. Rinehart passed away on August 16, 2016. The former MENC (now NAfME) Western Division President and Arizona Music Educators Association president was a composer, author, and one of the founders of the “Opening Minds through the Arts” program in the Tucson, Arizona, Public Schools. He was 92 years old.

Rinehart was born in Bellville, Ohio, and served in the U.S. Army during WWII. He brought his family to Tucson in 1952 to teach at the University of Arizona. He then served as Coordinator of Elementary Vocal Music for Tucson Unified Public Schools (TUSD).

He was a mentor to many music educators, and after retiring, he continued to work with children, helping them write and produce their own original operas.

education pioneer
Carroll A. Rinehart


Rinehart’s storied music education career began when he was 12 years old, teaching music to other students in the one-room Miracle School in Ohio. He later substituted in high school music classes when the teachers were absent.

After those early experiences, he went on to receive a bachelor’s in music education from Ashland College, a Master’s from Ohio State University, and completed graduate work at the University of Arizona and the University of Southern California.

In more than 55 years as a musician-educator, Rinehart taught band, orchestra, chorus, and general music, and was a music supervisor at all grade levels from preschool through higher education.

He served as coordinator of elementary music for the TUSD and as and principal of Miles Exploratory Learning Center, taught at the University of Arizona School of Music, and taught music via television when television station KUAT was jointly licensed to the University of Arizona and the TUSD.

Widely respected, Rinehart wrote a variety of articles on music education and served as editor of MENC’s book Composing and Arranging: Standard 4 Benchmarks. He composed numerous works and collections of songs for children and worked with Macmillan on the Spectrum of Music textbook series.

In addition, he designed the first practice module manufactured by Wenger Corp. and the Caroler instrument manufactured by Rhythm Band Instruments. He served as a consultant to OPERA America. Rinehart’s professional affiliations include the Arizona Music Educators Association, the Arizona Alliance for Arts Education, and the Tucson Commission on Arts and Culture.

Among his other awards and recognition:

  • 1963–65 MENC Western Division President
  • Arizona Music Educator of the Year and Distinguished Service Award
  • Arizona Governor’s first Arts Award for Arts Education
  • Tucson Mayor’s first Artist of the Year
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Arizona Department of Education
  • Tucson Metropolitan Education Commission’s Crystal Apple Award.

Rinehart was also named a 2004 NAfME Lowell Mason Fellow. Fellows are recognized for their significant contributions to the field of music education.

He was active in Tucson’s Rotary Club and First United Methodist Church and served on boards for Tucson Symphony Orchestra, Tucson Federal Credit Union, and Society of Southwest Authors and also was recognized by the Arizona Daily Star as one of 22 people who helped shaped the arts in Tucson.

Rinehart’s memorial service was held September 10 at First United Methodist Church in Tucson, Arizona. Joan Ashcraft, director of Fine and Performing Arts and Opening Minds through the Arts (OMA) spoke at the service.

She says the service“was filled with his original music, poetry, and visual art, [as well as] Carroll’s presence as we celebrated him as a beloved artist, educator, and mentor.” Among her remarks at the service:

“How many of you heard Carroll say, ‘Join me for breakfast … how about 6:00 AM?’ And, probably each of you left these early meetings, thinking what just happened as a result of the endless ideas that poured from his mind, quickly sketched as an outline on a napkin, and propelled into actions that you embraced through his inspirational words, personal research, and complete faith in your ability to follow through.

“To live up to his standard has always been a challenge. After all, who else do you know who wrote over 1,500 children-inspired operas, who collaboratively produced a series of practice recordings for each instrument called Sounds for Success, and who taught for almost 80 years throughout the United States, including Canada, Mexico and Australia?

“For many of us, Dr. Rinehart was our music teacher and district festival organizer. We remember songs he taught us for the honor choirs he conducted with Dr. Max Ervin at the mighty Wurlitzer organ, [playing songs like] ‘Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen,’ ‘Let Us Sing Together,’ ‘Swinging Along the Open Road,’ [and] ‘The Happy Wanderer’? No doubt, you could burst into song right now because the lyrics and melodies are indelibly imprinted on your brains. As young children, his joyful spirit illuminated us.”

During the service, Kyrene School District Superintendent Jan Vesely added, “I remember how happy I was and realize the impetus was singing with Dr. Rinehart. As a new principal for Peter Howell Elementary, I wanted that experience for my children. Being bused outside of their home community to my school, I knew Dr. Rinehart could build community and joy. So, I picked up the phone and sang some of the songs he taught me as a child before asking him to help at my school. He was there the next day.”

Rinehart is survived by his three children, Kathryn (Robert) Mitchell, Cynthia Rinehart and Steven Rinehart; two grandchildren, Nathan Mitchell and Amy (Steven) Voida; one great-granddaughter, Natalie Voida; one sister, Marilyn Rhodebeck of Ohio. His wife, Marilyn (Plank) Rinehart, a longtime church organist and composer in Tucson, passed away in 2012.

Read about Rinehart’s Opening Minds Through the Arts

You are invited to offer condolences.

Read tributes here.

The family suggests donations to the Tucson Symphony Young Composers Project or to the First United Methodist Church in Tucson.

Photo courtesy of Carroll A. Rinehart’s family

Roz Fehr, NAfME Membership Outreach Specialist, September 19, 2016. © National Association for Music Education (