Linda Thornton is a professor of music education and contributes to the musical education of students and teachers through teaching, publications, workshops, clinics, and conducting. At Penn State, Thornton teaches instrumental methods courses with a focus on elementary and middle school levels, freshman seminar, and advises music education students in the Schreyer Honors College. She regularly teaches courses for current music teachers in reflective practice and assessment, as well as teaches Psychology of Music and advises dissertations for PhD students. Her “Partners in Music” initiative with Dr. Robert Gardner, a collaboration between the State College Area School District, Our Lady of Victory, and Penn State, was recognized in 2015 with Penn State's "Community Engagement and Scholarship Award" and in 2016 with the College Music Society's "Robby D. Gunstream Education in Music Award."
Her research interests include pedagogy for beginning instrumentalists, composition and improvisation for instrumental students, music teacher recruitment and socialization, and reflective practice. She has published articles and chapters on these topics in several journals and books, including The Bulletin for the Council for Research in Music Education, Journal of Music Teacher Education, and Musicianship: Composing in Band and Orchestra (GIA). She has presented workshops and research and conducted ensembles throughout Pennsylvania as well as nationally and internationally. Thornton serves as the Chair of the Society for Music Teacher Education, research coordinator for the eastern division conference of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), North American review editor for Research in Music Education, and as a reviewer for the Journal of Teacher Education and Educators. She has served as an adviser for Music Educators Journal, chair for the Music Teacher Education Special Research Interest Group within NAfME, and as research chair for the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) as well as PMEA's strategic planning committee.
Thornton earned her bachelor's degree in music education from Northwestern University, and graduate degrees from the University of Missouri-Columbia. In between degrees, she taught band in public schools in northern and southern Illinois. Prior to her appointment at Penn State, she held a similar position at the State University of New York, College at Fredonia.