Elisa Dekaney

Office of Academic Affairs,
Dean’s Leadership Team,
Setnor School of Music

Associate Dean, Research, Graduate Studies, and Internationalization
Professor, Music Education

Elisa Dekaney

109 Crouse College
Syracuse, NY 13244-1010

Elisa Macedo Dekaney is the associate dean of research, graduate studies, and internationalization in the College of Visual Performing Arts (VPA) and professor of music education at Syracuse University.

Dually appointed by the School of Education (teaching & leadership) and VPA (Setnor School of Music), she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in the areas of choral music, music education, music research, and world music and cultures. From 2014 to 2020 Dekaney was a core faculty member for the Renée Crown University Honors Program, and in 2020 she was named a Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor for Teaching Excellence.

Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Dekaney earned a bachelor’s degree in sacred music (piano) at the Seminário Teológico Batista do Sul do Brasil and a bachelor’s degree in communications from the Universidade Federal Fluminense. She continued her studies in the United States, earning a master’s degree in choral conducting from the University of Missouri-Kansas City under Eph Ehly and a Ph.D. in choral music education from the Florida State University under André Thomas, Judy Bowers, Clifford Madsen, and Rodney Eichenberger.

An active researcher, Dekaney’s scholarly research focuses on aesthetic response to music, world music and cultures, International Phonetic Alphabet, Indigenous and Afro-Brazilian culture, and clinical simulation applied to music education. She has published books, book chapters, and articles in peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Research in Music Education, Research Studies in Music Education, The Choral Journal, International Education, Music Educators Journal, Contributions to Music Education, Journal of Music Teacher Education, and Update. Her choral arrangements of Brazilian folksongs for middle school choirs are published by Carl Fischer and BriLee. Her latest book, “Music at the Intersection of Brazilian Culture: An Introduction to Music, Race, and Food (Routledge, 2021), takes an interdisciplinary approach by utilizing several aspects of Brazilian music, race, and food as a window into understanding Brazilian culture, with music at the core.

Dekaney and husband Joshua Dekaney are the founders and directors of Samba Laranja: the Syracuse University Brazilian Ensemble. Under their direction, the group has performed numerous concerts for K-12 schools, churches, and communities across the northeastern United States and several times at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. Additionally, Samba Laranja is the recipient of three Syracuse Area Music Awards (SAMMY) for Best Recording Other Style for the recordings “Native Orange” (2011), “Pathways” (2015), and “Guaraná” (2019).

As a conductor, music educator, and scholar, Dekaney has presented at various interdisciplinary conferences and music symposia. She has conducted all-state choirs, honor choirs, and choral festivals in the U.S. and abroad. As part of her service to her profession, Dekaney has served for several years in the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) as repertoire and standards chair for ethnic and multicultural perspectives in New York State and the Eastern Region. She also served as chair of the Special Research Interest Group in Learning and Development of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME). Currently she serves on the ACDA Research and Publication National Standing Committee and on the ACCelerate Festival of Creativity and Innovation steering committee, an interdisciplinary festival sponsored by the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) institutions and the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

Civic Morning Musicals awarded Dekaney the 2006 Paul and Veronica Abel Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Art of Choral Performance and the 2015 Tiffany Award for Outstanding Service to the Cause of Music. She is also a recipient of the 2007 VPA Outstanding Faculty Award and the 2017 Visionary Community Award (Hispanic Heritage). She was a 2011 fellow with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Curt Silberman Seminar and a 2018 fellow with the ACC Academic Leaders Network.


  • Ph.D., Florida State University
  • M.M., University of Missouri-Kansas City, Conservatory of Music
  • Bachelor’s degree, Universidade Federal Fluminense, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Bachelor’s degree, Seminário Teológico Batista do Sul do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Choral music, music education, music research, world and music cultures