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Featured Faculty: Dr. Wendy Freeland

Dr. Wendy Freeland, Professor of Music, has been teaching for eighteen years. Though she is from Mannington, WV, she earned her Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance at Florida Atlantic University and both her Master of Music in Piano Performance and Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance from the University of South Carolina. After graduating with her PhD, she learned about a job offering at JSU through a friend who connected her to retired JSU professor Dr. Gail Steward, who in turn allowed her to interview and audition.

Currently, Freeland is teaching Applied Piano, Class Piano, and Music History. When asked about her favorite, she responded, “I like them all!  Class piano is fun because I like being in front of a group and enjoy the group dynamic. In applied piano, I work one-on-one with the student, and we get to dive deep into the music. Music history for graduate students is great because it is an opportunity to explore music that is not a regular part of today’s culture, for most students. Graduate students are serious and focused, and I can help them discover some very special music and the events that caused their creation.” She also serves as the Director of the JSU Music Academy (which provides music lessons to children and others in our community) and plays as the accompanist for JSU Chamber Singers. Their ability to keep her engaged with the music students and community at JSU causes her to enjoy them both.

From 2012-2014, Freeland served as President of the Alabama Music Teachers Association. She says that she learned a lot about piano teaching and leadership, as the organization represents over 400 teachers (the majority of whom teach piano). Freeland is also the creator and director of the Foothills Piano Festival, which brings a wide variety of talented performers to play at JSU.

Freeland likes working in the Music Department because of its shared devotion. “Our faculty gives so much of themselves and of their time. They wouldn’t have it any other way. They are committed people, doing the best they can every day.” She also loves that students that come seeking discipline and knowledge, “full of pride for the years of success of the Marching Southerners.” The best thing about her job is planning, creating projects, and handling details. She even enjoys the opportunity to work alone. “While I like being around people, I am very happy working alone. This probably contributed to my being a pianist in the first place, with it requiring years of daily, solitary practice.”

At this time, Freeland intends to research how mental health ties into specific works by three Early Romantic composers. She is also hoping to be able to perform with Swedish singer Stina Ohman, a good friend of hers, in the next year.

Freeland’s favorite performance dates back to her time at USC. When asked, she told us, “The second act of Mozart’s The Magic Flute opens with a stoic male chorus. I served as rehearsal pianist for that opera when going to school [at USC]. On opening night, I received a phone call during intermission that my favorite aunt had passed away. I’ll never forget hearing that opening chorus and feeling very secure, right, and connected with her.”

In her spare time, Freeland enjoys reading and cooking. She follows “a vegan diet, and explore[s] Italian, Asian and Indian influences in cuisine.” In addition to those two activities, she has started walking on the McClellan Bike Trail and thoroughly enjoys it.

If Freedland were to give advice to her past self, it would be “To not have been so hard on myself at times… to realize I am part of a big picture—a unique, important part, but just a part.”

The advice that Freeland has for her students is just as comforting: “Do what [you] love and give it [your] best. Do not worry about how things will work out. Just know, that they will.”



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