The Trombonist-Turned-Musicologist (No, this is Not a Joke): How Embracing my Past Defined my Future

We are excited today to share a guest post by Alyssa Wells about her path from playing trombone and baritone in bands to pursuing a PhD in Musicology. Thank you, Alyssa, for sharing your story!

Wells - Headshot.jpgAlyssa Wells is a Musicology PhD student and Rackham Merit Fellow at the University of Michigan. Her research interests include: labor union and industry bands, protest music, the politics of sound and space, and communist and socialist composers. Before coming to the University of Michigan, she completed master’s degrees at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in Musicology (M.M.) and German and Scandinavian Studies (M.A.). While at UMass, her research on Hanns Eisler and music festivals in the German Democratic Republic received funding from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Alyssa also holds a B.A. in Music (trombone) and German Studies from Western Michigan University. In her free time, she enjoys running, cooking, telling terrible jokes, and making annoying puns.


If you would have told 19-year-old me that I am now just about halfway done with a PhD in musicology, I would have probably laughed…

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Figure 1 – Alyssa, aged 19. Clearly enthused about musicology

…In fact, until the past year, musicology had never truly felt “natural” to me. The field was intriguing and inspiring enough to decide to devote my life to it, but what I studied simply did not furnish me with the same deep personal connection that I consistently witnessed my colleagues experiencing.  Continue reading

Five (of The Many) Great Things About My Teaching Job

Jessica Stein is a trumpet player and band teacher at the Haldane Central School District in Cold Spring, NY. Most recently Jessica played in the pit orchestra for Marist College’s production of Anything Goes. Jessica is a founding member of Millennial Brass, a brass ensemble that performs regionally in New York and Connecticut. Additionally, Jessica subs with The Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra.

During the summer of 2016, Jessica attended The Aspen Music Festival and School where she performed significant orchestral works alongside some of the countries’ top classical musicians. Jessica has played internationally in Graz, Austria as a member of the American Institute of Musical Studies’ professional festival orchestra. Upon beginning her graduate work in 2014 at SUNY Purchase, Jessica was a finalist in the Purchase College Concerto Competition performing the Arutunian Trumpet Concerto.

Jessica earned her Master’s of Music from SUNY Purchase under the tutelage of Raymond Mase. Additionally, Jessica holds a Bachelor’s of Music with a double major in Trumpet Performance and Music Education from The Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University where she was a recipient of the Sylvia Friedberg Nachlas Endowment Scholarship.


I have never spoken so openly about being a public school band teacher. I just started my job in September 2017, and I’ve been pretty quiet about it. As a professional musician, at first, I felt that having a teaching job was something to be ashamed of. However, in the past six months, I’ve realized that couldn’t be further from the truth. I think it’s time for me to speak out about how fantastic my job is. So without further ado, here are five (of the many) great things about my teaching job.  Continue reading