Jill Wilson

Nurturing Future Educators

Wilson, who attended a liberal arts college herself, was eager to serve on Luther’s faculty because she knew firsthand the life changing impact of this type of education. “I see the liberal arts as key in nurturing students to contribute to their world no matter what their vocation,” she shares. “I teach in a ‘pre-professional’ program, but my students aren’t being prepared to teach music; they are being prepared to educate students.”

“Like many of my students, I went to college wanting to be a high school choir director. I explored a master’s degree in conducting but chose music education due to life circumstances,” she explains. “Little did I know that’s exactly where I was supposed to be.” As someone fascinated by music literacy pedagogy, Wilson sees the limitless benefits of working with pre-service teachers and observing students in practicum settings. She sees her position as the music education program director as an opportunity to foster invaluable skills in her students and collaborate with each student to shape their own journey.

Invigorated by Collaborative Research

Currently, Wilson is in the process of preparing to present and publish several research projects, many of which involve collaborating with colleagues across the country. Her research focuses on: “music education curriculum reform, popular music and teaching the “other eighty percent” (students who do not participate in band, orchestra, or choir), mentor programs, professional development for experienced teachers, and music literacy.”

To Wilson, researching is a hobby that helps her connect with new people, work on personal development, and enrich the lives of her students all at the same time. “Students, of course, are my main priority, and that doesn’t leave a lot of time for writing,” she says. “Through research, I have been able to collaborate with colleagues from across the country and travel to international conferences all while investing in myself so that I can better serve my students.”

Involved in the Luther Community

Wilson loves to connect with the Luther community outside of the classroom. She serves as a member of the newly formed Music Anti-Racism Task Force, through which she works with faculty, staff, and students on strengthening the music department through diversity, equity, and inclusion. And with the help of alumna Catelyn Janda ’19, Wilson launched the Luther College Community Music School in 2019. The school offers lessons, group classes, and a youth choir program called SoDa Club.

Wilson also serves as the advisor for a student organization, the Future Music Educators Association (FMEA), which is one of her favorite roles at Luther. “The list of guest speakers the officers and I have been able to host through Zoom over the past year alone is pretty astounding. These students are also wildly impressive when it comes to creating community as well as encouraging and supporting one another,” she says.

Invested in the Broader Community

Wilson is a shining example of how Luther’s faculty are immersed in their communities through active involvement both inside and outside of Luther. She is in her last year of a six-year term progression as president-elect, president, and vice-president of the Iowa Choral Directors Association, having previously been repertoire and resources chair for treble choirs and editor of their publication, The Sounding Board. She also recently served on the Iowa Music Education Association board as teacher education chair and was co-chair of the Iowa Fine Arts Standards writing committee. Lastly, Wilson is proud to be a Modern Band fellow, thanks to the Little Kids Rock organization!

She sees the strong benefits of being actively engaged and is always seeking to grow in her skills as an educator. “It’s so important to be involved in professional organizations,” she shares. “I’m sure my students are tired of hearing about the next conference or workshop!” 

A Part of Something Larger

Wilson’s commitment to her students, community, and her own professional development are integral parts of her identity as a music educator, and her contributions to the Luther community are evident. She feels fortunate to belong to a campus community filled with people who continually strive for the greater good. She says, “Plain and simple, the people make Luther what it is—from students to faculty to staff to alums—and I feel very fortunate to be surrounded by amazing colleagues and young people on a daily basis.”