Meet Your Professor: Gretchen Peters

Department: Music



Story by Jessie Tremmel, Staff Writer

Jessie Tremmel: What departments do you teach in?
Gretchen Peters: I teach in music and theatre arts and American Indian Studies.

 JT: What courses do you teach?
GP: I teach music history courses, or courses that deal with music and culture and cultural contexts. So for music majors I teach a lot of music history courses about Western Classical music primarily. And then I teach a world music class, that is GE, and open to everybody. I teach part of an American Indian expressive cultures course. I teach a women and music class and then I teach different types of topic courses that would fall under music history.

 JT: What is your favorite class to teach?
GP: That’s hard to answer. I think I say in a lot of my classes that that’s my favorite class to teach. Honestly it’s very hard for me to pick one that I like the best. For example, I teach Medieval and Renaissance music history. I love the music for that, probably the most. When I teach the women in music class I just love thinking about the gender issues and how they intersect with music. They are always shifting. Maybe what speaks to it is, I teach a music history seminar for upper-level music students and that topic can always be changed, it can be whatever I want it to be. So that is maybe where my truthful answer lies. Next year I am offering two different music history seminars, one of them is on gender issues in music and the other is on what I call exoticism in music. So those, currently, are two of my favorite topics to think about.

JT: What brought you to UWEC?
GP: I’ve been here a long time now, it’s about 15 years. My husband actually got hired here first and so I was here finishing my dissertation and then a job opened up for a music history position. So I guess my husband’s job brought me here first, but I actually grew up here in Eau Claire. I graduated from Eau Claire Memorial, which is very unusual. Then I went away for college and graduate school. But then this job opened up for my husband for the flute position, and we thought, ‘Uhh you know, do we come back to where I actually lived. That’s a little odd,’ but in the end it’s a really nice music department, it’s a really nice university and we have two jobs in the same department. And so it worked out pretty ideally. The odds of that working out are one in a million.

JT: If you weren’t teaching, what do you think you would be doing?
GP: I would like to be an archivist because I have always enjoyed archival work. But actually, now, I would probably choose something that would have to do more with politics and international work, non-profit work, that type of things. So that I would feel like I was acting on my social values.

 JT: What do you like about UWEC?
GP: What I really like about UWEC is that I think the students are a really nice combination. You get students who are not presumptuous and they aren’t pretentious. In fact, I think I said the other day that if you acted a student to be pretentious, they probably would just look at you like ‘what are you even talking about?’ And that is great, if you are a teacher and your students aren’t pretentious, but they are open to all sorts of ideas, they are engaged in a very good way and really lay themselves open for new ways of thinking.

 JT: Where is your favorite place in Eau Claire?
GP: My favorite place in Eau Claire is the farmer’s market. I feel like that’s just a place that has been totally transformed. When I was a girl growing up, that was just an awful place, a place where the two rivers came together. And for so long it was just ignored and just sat there looking industrial. And then it gets transformed, and we actually invested in a very positive way. So now it is special, I loved to see the transformation of it. For years, nobody ever floated down the river. The river was clean but nobody would float down it because they didn’t have a place to start from. You clean the park up, and all of a sudden people are tubing. Good things come from good things.