The symphony of education

Charlotte Wilkins. Photo by Rachael Rosenberg.

For the Applied Music Program (AMP), students have to audition for a spot in the program by demonstrating skill within their instrument. The auditioning process can be competitive for aspiring music majors looking to join the AMP.

Guiding them through the process is Applied Music Program Director Charlotte Wilkins. She is both the director and a professor, teaching a variety of orchestral music classes.

Wilkins is also a community college graduate who received her associate degree in instrumental performance. She then transferred to California State University Northridge, where she got both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music with an emphasis in flute performance.

Although Wilkins has been the AMP Director for only two semesters, teaching music has been a lifelong goal. Wilkins has been a part of Pierce College faculty since the Fall of 2017.

Her dedication to music education was proven when Wilkins accepted the position as AMP Director in the Fall of 2022.

“They approached me and asked if it was something I would be interested in,” Wilkins said. “I was thrilled at the opportunity to do it. It was just another way for me to connect with the students and contribute to the department.”

Wilkins recognized her passion for teaching music when she realized the potential of bringing students from different cultures into the same room. 

Wilkins said that collaborating with her students allows her to see the creative potential in them.

“It’s a way for me to see the creativeness in my students,” said Wilkins. “Their passion is shown to the audience through their creativity. It makes me excited to collaborate with other people.”

Aside from teaching at Pierce College, Wilkins is also a freelance musician. She’s been hired to perform for a variety of Netflix and Peacock productions. 

Not only that, but she also has a private flute studio. She spends her mornings teaching at Pierce, and then throughout the week she meets with flute students for private lessons.

Annie Yolo is a student and member of the Applied Music Program at Pierce. Yolo also practices the flute, just like Wilkins. 

Yolo said that Wilkins is like no other professor she’s ever had. Not only does Wilkins care about her students’ progress regarding music, but also their well-being.

“She’s a professor, but also a really great mentor,” said Yolo. “I’ve known her for a long time, even before going to Pierce. She’s someone who’s there for you, who advocates for you. She has your best interests in mind. I think that speaks to how great of a person she is.”

Yolo said she admires the hard work and effort that Wilkins puts into the Applied Music Program, and that deep level of care that Wilkins demonstrates for her students speaks volumes about both her character and her educator performance.

“Being a director of anything isn’t easy,” said Yolo. “There’s many of us in the program with various different instruments. I feel like she’s handled this position with grace and poise.”

Yolo also hopes that the future of the AMP program has more students involved, and  that the leadership of Wilkins will influence newcomers to join the AMP.

“Our program is starting to grow, which is amazing,” Yolo said. “Hopefully we can get even more people to come in and see our music program. The family we’ve made is really great.”

Department Chair of Music and an Associate Professor of Music Wendy Mazon said that she admires the dedication that Wilkins has for her profession.

“I think she’s doing a great job. She works really hard and puts in a ton of extra hours for our students,” Mazon said. “She’s created numerous workshops, including a transfer workshop to help with the transfer process.”

Mazon also said that Wilkins has made many improvements for the program. 

According to Mazon, not only does Wilkins care about the students wellbeing, but she’s also improved streamlining the paperwork process for instructors.

“She definitely has a student’s first philosophy,” Mazon said. “ Through her diligence and student support, she’s going to continue to help build this program.”

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