Master Class: Dr. Christin Schillnger, bassoonist from Ithaca College

Master Class: Dr. Christin Schillnger, bassoonist from Ithaca College

Academic Year:
2019 - 2020 (June 1, 2019 through May 31, 2020)
Funding Requested:
Project Dates:
Chair Uniqname:
Overview of the Project:
As part of a national series of celebrations and recitals in honor of my primary teacher Bernard Garfield, former principal bassoonist of the Philadelphia Orchestra, I am hosting four guest bassoonists (all former students of mine) who have each carved a unique niche in the larger discipline of bassoon performance and who are all "grand-students" of Garfield. I am seeking assistance from CRLT via the Instructional Development Fund to cover the honorarium of one of these guests, Dr. Christin Schillinger, Assistant Professor of Bassoon at Ithaca College. Dr. Schillinger is an advocate for women composers and women bassoonists, having recently released a compact disc dedicated entirely to music by women, including many newly commissioned pieces written especially for her. Other past recordings have covered a wide range of contemporary compositions for bassoon and piano, bassoon and percussion, and bassoon with voice. Dr. Schillinger has appeared as a featured guest of the Meg Quigley Competition, an event that offers master classes and a competition to young women bassoonists from across the US. Dr. Schillinger has recently published a historical survey of reed making for our instrument titled Bassoon Reed Making (Indiana University Press 2016.)
Number of Graduate Students Affected Annually:
2 graduate students
Number of Undergraduate Students Affected Annually:
14 undergraduate students
Proposal PDF:
Additional Supporters:
Sally Fleming Master Class Fund (for SMTD faculty) $1700 (includes honoraria for the other three guests, plus hotel costs for Schillinger)
SMTD Dean's funds: $1200 to assist with airfare for three of the guests.
In kind: I will be housing the three male guests at my home in my guest room.
Budget Administrator:
Jeanette Bierkamp
Final Report Fields
Project Objectives:

The visit from Dr. Christin Schillinger was one of four master classes given over the course of the Winter 2020 term to the bassoon students at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance. We invited Dr. Schillinger to speak about how she balances the day to day duties of teaching music performance with her activism on behalf of women bassoonists within the larger music world. 

Project Achievements:

Students were inspired and invigorated by Dr. Schillinger's teaching and her example. Some students specifically appreciated her advice on developing communication skills within chamber music rehearsals, especially her exercises that developed listening skills without ever actually playing the music being rehearsed. Others mentioned that they were eager to try her suggestions about pushing each other in a positive way to achieve a higher outcome. My teaching assistant wrote, "It has always been eye-opening and inspiring to watch others teach, but I was especially motivated by Dr. Schillinger's enthusiasm and absolute devotion to the bassoon. Since entering the Doctoral program in the bassoon studio last semester, I have been tasked with teaching several students at the University in the Bassoon Methods course for music education majors, and I have also started teaching several middle and high school students in the Ann Arbor area. It is always very helpful for my to observe the way in which others teach their craft and the masterclass given by Dr. Schillinger is one that will stick with me as I further develop my own teaching techniques and philosophy. Immediately following her masterclass, I taught a lesson to one of my middle school students, and I was delighted to be able to bring aspects of Dr. Schillinger's class in the form of enthusiasm, encouragement, and intention into my own teaching. My student responded very well to the addition of these new teaching techniques, and I believe that my future students will benefit from them as well. I look forward to being able to continue exercising these newly acquired teaching strategies as my own education and eventual career develop. 

In terms of her work on gender issues, one student said, "It's so important to see a woman Doing the Thing and succeeding." On the other hand, one of the freshman women wrote, "I have never been one to ask, 'Since I'm a woman, what can or can't I do?' My principal teacher in high school was a woman but I looked up to her because she was a master musician, not because she was a woman musician." A sophomore male student said that the reason he found the discussions on gender enlightening was because until he came to Michigan, every one of his music teachers was a woman and he had never worked with a male bassoonist until now. This class made him more aware of the unique experience he had compared with other students in the studio. 

As this class was one of four masterclasses this term, the studio had discussions after each of the classes and compared the guests' four very different careers that all began in similar undergraduate programs at different universities and conservatories. We discussed the importance of mentorship in music, of the need to seek out individual paths in order to find a niche in a broader discipline, and how to create communities of similarly motivated artists. One of the students altered the focus of her senior recital upon finding repertoire commissioned by Dr. Schillinger, and another has decided to apply for a Fulbright scholarship in the future to explore issues of economic disparity in music education in different countries in Europe. Many of the students have joined Dr. Schillinger's Facebook group Fempower to continue to work on gender equality in music.
The class continues to resonate among the members of the studio and we have engaged in personal exchanges with Dr. Schillinger's students at Ithaca College. Before the virus pandemic we were in discussions about a selection of collaborative projects between the studios and we hope to restart these discussions once we are able to gather together again to make music.
Advice to your Colleagues:
It can sometimes be difficult to propose projects that address the highly traditional art of teaching private music lessons within a unit like CRLT that emphasizes non-traditional approaches to teaching and learning. I greatly appreciated the advice provided to me by Malinda Matney in shaping a successful proposal.
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