Editor’s note: This is the latest in a series of New Faculty Spotlight profiles, highlighting the WSU’s new faculty in 2020.
Since Jacqueline Wilson’s days as a self-described “band kid” growing up in Kennewick, music has been a creative outlet and a respite from the stresses of life.
Wilson’s research focuses on the legacy of the use of Classical music by Native Americans as a tactic of resistance. During the Assimilation Era of Federal Indian Policy, Classical music was used as a tool of re-enculturation. It was then reclaimed by Native American players, composers and communities over the past century. Wilson, a first-year faculty member in WSU’s School of Music, is building on that reclamation through her work.
“After getting out of the boarding schools, many Native Americans continued playing when they returned to the reservations,” said Wilson (Yakama). “They didn’t abandon who they are as people. The music itself wasn’t antithetical to their traditions. They formed bands like the U.S. Indian Band and played Sousa marches in headdresses and regalia. I became very inspired by the resilience of these acts and by Native Americans asserting their identity in their performances.
Wilson’s career path brought her to WSU, a homecoming of sorts. She earned her undergraduate degree at Eastern Washington and she’s thrilled to join the WSU Pullman faculty.
“I dreamed of leaving home and seeing the world and I was fortunate to do that,” said Wilson, who earned her masters at Boston University, and her doctorate at the University of Iowa. “But I started to value my own experience and I really gained a desire for proximity to family and those things. I also wanted to be at a university where what I’m doing is immediately relevant to the community and at a place that values the things that are important to me. I care deeply about the educational and cultural resources available to this region.
Wilson specializes in the bassoon, a double-reed woodwind instrument that she cherishes for its versatility and rich tones. She plays in the Solstice Faculty Wind Quintet and Ensemble 337. Wilson also co-hosts the Double Reed Dish podcast, which has gained a loyal following in the niche community.
“It’s a very nerdy podcast,” Wilson laughed. “We interview prestigious players and ask about their story and their perspective. It’s grown into a cool thing.”
Wilson looks at the bright side of teaching music at a distance. While she misses the personal connections, she can use her webcam to get extreme close-ups of fingerings on the bassoon and the online environment spurs creativity in lesson planning.
Wilson looks forward to building relationships on campus and in the community to showcase Native American composers and the profound effects music has on culture and environments.
“The first time I saw professionals working within their heritage it was very inspiring,” Wilson said. “I began to look at my cultural identity as a classical musician and I knew I wanted to pursue that intersection.”