Breaking Stereotypes, One Classical Music Note at a Time

Courtesy Dr. Jacqueline Wilson / Molto Music / Dr. Jacqueline Wilson is an assistant professor of music at Southeast Missouri State University. She is also a professional bassoonist and organizer of Molto Native Music, an organization dedicated to showcasing Native musicians in classical music.

Dr. Jacqueline Wilson is an assistant professor of music at Southeast Missouri State University.

She is also a professional bassoonist and organizer of Molto Native Music, an organization dedicated to showcasing Native musicians in classical music.

“An Indian in classical music, isn’t that a little weird?” Dr. Jacqueline Wilson gets asked this quite a bit. Her answer on her website Molto Native Music, is ‘Not really.”

A screen capture of the Molto Native music website.

Though her response is light-hearted, she also says that introducing classical music to Native people is not without struggles.

“The function of classical music in boarding schools was to erase Native culture…and replace it with something decidedly western,” Dr. Wilson told ICTMN. “Whenever I play, I am honoring the legacy of ancestors that endured that cultural trauma.”

“Whenever I play, I am honoring the legacy of ancestors that endured that cultural trauma.”- Dr. Jacqueline Wilson

Dr. Wilson (Yakama) is well aware of the stereotypes she faces as a classical musician and hopes to dispel them by showcasing talented Native classical musicians on Molto Native Music. “The more we are seen as people and not relics of a forgotten past, the better for us.”

Originally from Kennewick, WA, 32 year-old Dr. Wilson started playing the bassoon in junior high school. She was the first in her family to attend college so she says the experience was unchartered territory and leaving home was difficult.

“As a freshman in college, I really didn’t know the expectations of being a college music major. I ended up failing my first semester of orchestra. My instructor told me I had no business playing bassoon or studying music in college. I decided to prove him wrong and began practicing three to four hours every day. I got an A the following semester!”

“This project is so personal, it’s more about the potential to do for other people, young Native artists, and the hope to inspire them.” Acquiring musical instruments and supplies can be very expensive and a hardship for many young aspiring musicians. Dr. Wilson hopes that through Molto Native Music she can create scholarships and opportunities to get these instruments and supplies to those in need.

Her site provides support for the many gifted contemporary Native classical musicians out there by being a database for people seeking to hire or collaborate with a Native musician.

When asked how she came up with the name for her organization, she explained, “The significance of the name is two-fold; I knew I wanted something that would connote Classical music. On our sheet music, directions are most often given in Italian so I started looking at commonly-used Italian musical terms that might work. I chose “molto” because I thought the translation (“very”) fit the aim of the site so well; while to some, the idea of Native people composing or performing Classical music might seem strange or “non-Indian, ” what we do is in fact- MOLTO Indian! Hence the name, Molto Native Music!”

For more information visit the Molto Native Music website at http://moltonativemusic.com.

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