Pioneer Spotlight: Dr. Jacqueline Wilson

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Pioneer Spotlight
December 19, 2014
Jacqueline Wilson

Dr. Jacqueline Wilson, assistant professor of music at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, has been at the university since fall 2013. She grew up in the state of Washington and earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Wash. She earned a Master of Music from Boston University College of Fine Arts in Boston, Mass., and a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. All three of her degrees are in bassoon performance.

Wilson teaches World Music, Applied Bassoon and various levels of music theory. Her hobbies outside of music are reading, writing and playing with her Basset Hound.

What impresses you most about your students?

My students have the ability to manage the many directions that they are pulled in. Between classes, concerts, work and other obligations, they are involved in a lot and are able to do well in all of the things that they participate in.

What is the most challenging thing about going into a career in music?

Music is highly competitive. The supply is greater than the demand; there are more people than opportunities for jobs in music. There is little room for error and it is important to be the best version of yourself in order to stand out.

What is the most rewarding thing about going into a career in music?

For me, I enjoy helping students achieve their goals and seeing them gain confidence. I get to work with my students for multiple semesters and I like to watch them grow throughout their sequence of courses.

Why do you think hands-on, applied learning is so important to prepare students for their careers and life?

Hands-on, applied learning gives students opportunities for professional experience. They are able to apply concepts that they learn in class. Learning shouldn’t occur in a vacuum, and this helps students make a smooth transition to the professional realm.

How did you become interested in the bassoon?

In junior high band, I started playing the oboe. Later on, someone suggested the bassoon to me and I gave it a try. With the bassoon, you are either good or bad at it — there’s no in-between. I just kept practicing a lot until I got really good at it.

What is your most memorable performance? Why was it so memorable?

I had the opportunity to play Mahler’s “Symphony No. 2” at Symphony Hall in Boston as a student. It was a really unique opportunity because the repertoire and location were not common for student performers.

How do you bring together your Native American heritage and classical musicianship?

Being both Native American and a classical musician is a bit of a dichotomy. By performing the works of Native composers, I am able to assert my cultural identity in a traditionally Western European art form. I advocate for these works in order to call attention to the Indian presence in classical music, small as it may be. These pieces allow me to celebrate Native classical composition in my professional realm, merging two seemingly separate but significant parts of my life.

Is there something you are currently working on that is especially exciting or rewarding?

In May, I will be recording a CD of music for bassoon and piano with my colleague Elaina Burns. It will feature new or infrequently performed works for bassoon including the premiere recording of Brian Van Winkle’s “Sonata for Bassoon and Piano,” the “Glenn Gould Sonata” and a transcription of “Katcina Dances” by Louis Ballard (Quapaw). I am excited to promote these less-popular works in my field. ​

Interview conducted by Connie Spyropoulos, College of LAE. To nominate someone for the Pioneer Spotlight, contact


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