“What can we do to help support women and non-conforming
folks? How can we change the music world from a boy’s club to a more inclusive
and supportive environment?”
These are the questions that drive senior bassist
Jeanette Adams through all her various musical roles. You can find her doing
almost everything including teaching private lessons, playing bass in orchestra
and jazz ensembles, working on tech crew, interning at the Fox Valley Symphony
and running the popular Tiny Box Series. Passionate about building supportive
communities through music and empowering spaces for marginalized voices to be
heard, Adams brings this philosophy of inclusivity into every role she has.
“The music world is not very diverse right now,”
explained Adams. “I want to use my position as a female bass player to help
other girls and non-conforming folks realize their potential in this field.”
For Adams, this passion for inclusive community building
through music can be traced right back to the beginning of her musical roots.
She began playing the bass in fifth grade so she could hang out with her
friends in orchestra. In eighth grade, however, music began to become a more
serious thing, and her family ended up relocating to a bigger city where Adams
could have more musical opportunities and actually take private lessons.
Encouraged to continue, Adams became involved in anything that needed a bass
player, from jazz ensembles to her city orchestra.
However, despite having access to more opportunities,
things were not always easy. “Growing up, I was the only female musician and
often the only bass player. It was definitely a source of teasing that made me
want to quit. I felt out of place for so long.”
Things changed, though, when Adams came to Lawrence
University. While at first she didn’t think she was good enough to try for a
performance degree, it was her parents who encouraged her to audition. Once at
Lawrence, Adams was struck by the supportive community of the bass studio,
which she credits to the kind understanding of Associate Professor of Music and
teacher of string bass Mark Urness, and the fact that half the bass studio is
Now with her own small studio, Adams hopes to give back
in the same way.
“I have two female bass students and all I want is to
help them realize they are capable, and that nothing anyone can say can change
that,” Adams emphasized.
Next year, Adams will be serving as a music teacher at
various Title I schools in Roaring Fork Valley, Colorado, through the
ArtistYear program. Affiliated with AmeriCorps, this program places arts
graduates from a variety of disciplines at low-income schools in order to
ensure all students’ equal and public access to an arts education.
You can catch Adams in her upcoming senior recital on
March 30 at 3 p.m. in Harper Hall.