ALUMNI PERSPECTIVE JACQUELINE WILSON ’11
DMA in Bassoon Performance and Pedagogy
I had just finished the first lesson of my master’s degree at Boston University (BU) when my teacher, Matthew Ruggiero, a retired member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, asked me about my hobbies. I launched into a litany of music-related topics: reed making, score study, and practice, practice, practice—and then
Reflecting on the change I wanted to see within myself also caused me to give serious consideration to how I approach being a Classical musician. I identified areas of accountability I wanted to address within our field. Specifically, I want our art to reflect and be relevant to the world in which we exist. I want to create greater access and remove financial barriers to exemplary music education. I want to redefine our art as a field of abundance in which we are so convinced of the worth of our inherent uniqueness that we feel comfortable making room for everyone. I often wish the person I am now had the opportunity to answer Dr. Ruggiero’s question again and share with him the things that have become important to me. Music has taught me that there’s a time to follow and a time to lead. My culture teaches me that the path forward is made clear by honoring and learning from our past. In my career, I strive to find a delicate balance between all of these and plant my seeds of purpose where I can along the way.
This was not always the case, however. During my time as a student, I remember having a single-minded focus on embarking on my career as a bassoonist. I spent countless hours practicing the so-called “standard repertoire” because I believed that’s what I needed to do to be successful. This began to change upon graduation. I was thrust into the “real world” of professional life as a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (UWEC). In addition to an excellent School of Music, UWEC also had a thriving American Indian Studies (AIS) program, and I was encouraged by the university and my colleagues to be involved in both departments. As I made connections in AIS, I was introduced to new approaches to professional activity. As I collaborated with and was influenced by these colleagues, I was struck by how profoundly their work contrasted with my own. Their professions embraced their whole personhood, and their work was in service to someone other than themselves. This experience inspired me to make significant changes in my life, career, and mindset.
waited for inevitable praise. I was surprised when he replied, visibly
disappointed, “Jacqueline, there’s a lot more to life than the bassoon.” I would not learn this lesson in my time at BU nor during Dr. Ruggiero’s few remaining years on Earth, but this seed of thought eventually germinated and became a defining mantra in my life. As a Yakama musician, equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging (EDIB) are innately connected to my purpose. The vast majority of my creative activity focuses on Indigenous artistic sovereignty: commissioning, premiering, performing, and recording the works of Native American composers to promote self-representation and decolonization.
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