Beyond the Classroom : Dr. Jeff Womack

Music professor does double duty as teacher and performer

By Aubree Bailey
On February 23, 2018

Dr. Jeff Womack is a professor in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at ASU.

"My official responsibilities are as a professor of oboe and bassoon, and I’m the music history professor," Womack said.

Womack also teaches a core class.

"Additionally to those, I teach a section of Introduction to Music online every other semester. In the alternate semester, I teach a section of Introduction to Music that is for music majors in the fall, which is a little bit more demanding."

He also holds applied lessons, where he instructs students one-on-one with their chosen instruments.

Womack’s early interest in music started in an unusual place.

"I didn’t start band until the eighth grade, but as a kid we watched cartoons like Bugs Bunny and Road Runner, and also The Smurfs," Womack said. "I was always very engaged by the music. Those musicians were phenomenal, and I heard this sound in one of the cartoons, and I asked, ‘What is that?’ A friend was there, and he said, ‘Oh that’s a bassoon.’ And I said, ‘That’s what I want to play."’

"I was very interested in classical music even before I knew what it really was," Womack said. "There was a commercial on TV for a collection of romantic orchestral music, and I asked my parents for that for my eighth birthday."

Womack attended Berea College to obtain an undergraduate degree in Music Education before he pursued post-graduate education.

"I got a master’s and doctorate from Illinois State and Louisiana State." Womack said. "My doctorate is in music and music performance, specifically of the bassoon."

In addition to instructing classes, Womack also gives a faculty recital on campus at least once a year, most recently on Jan. 30. He was accompanied on percussion by Trent Shuey, ASU’s assistant director of bands and percussion instructor.

The performance was entitled "Contrasts: Music for (mostly Solo Bassoon)," and they played "Bachalicious" by Ryan Hare, "24th Caprice" by Niccolo Paganini, "Le Tombeau de Mireille" by Henri Tomasi, "Blues for Contra" by Michael Burns and "Pimpin" by Jacob Ter Veldhuis.

Womack said his favorite part of the job is"all of it; it’s very interesting. Most of us in the department are teaching faculty. In addition to that, many of us also perform professionally in one capacity or another."

Although maintaining both aspects of his career can be difficult at times, Womack said they are immensely beneficial to each other.

"The demands of performing professionally are very high, and continuing to be able to work at that level helps me constantly keep fresh all the things I need to remember while playing, which carries over directly into teaching."

Womack described his job overall as the perfect career for a musician.

"It’s kind of an ideal situation because I love to perform, I love to play my instrument, but I am especially enthusiastic about the teaching because I love seeing the students get it and lights click on and great stuff starts happening."

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