For Amy Pollard, the bassoon is an instrument unlike any other.
Pollard, an associate professor of bassoon at the Hugh Hodgson School of Music, picked up a bassoon in middle school after playing the flute for a few years. She was intrigued by pictures and music literature about the instrument that she found in her band class and asked to play it.
According to Pollard, the instrument truly is diverse—able to blend with woodwinds, play alongside percussion parts or stand on its own as a solo instrument.
“I think it has a really fascinating sound,” said Pollard. “The bassoon can create a lot of different tonal colors and a lot of the octaves sound very different. When we play in orchestra, we most often play parts with the other woodwinds, but we also get to play with the strings and the brass sections. Usually with each piece, we have a role within all of those areas, and we get to collaborate with a variety of sections in a way that other instruments don’t.”
Much like the instrument, Pollard serves diverse and varied roles as a faculty member at the School of Music. As the bassoon professor, she teaches students in hourlong individual weekly sessions, but also teaches bassoon studio class, a reed making seminar and a First-Year Odyssey course on managing performance anxiety; coaches a woodwind quintet; and teaches graduate pedagogy and literature courses.
Beyond teaching, she also plays bassoon in a host of solo, chamber and large orchestral performances each year—at UGA, with professional orchestras and as a visiting performer to other universities. She’s even the principal bassoonist for the Atlanta Ballet.
Despite the busy teaching and performance schedule, the most rewarding part of the job is being able to get to know her students on an individual level.
“I’m able to help them realize their goals in a very specific way that maybe isn’t possible for faculty members who teach very large classes,” said Pollard. “I see my students for four years, if they’re an undergraduate, or at least two years if they’re a graduate student so I’m able to form a personal bond with them and help them, not only in their careers, but also in their personal lives. I can help them learn how to schedule their time and how to take steps toward achieving their individual goals. Feeling like I have an impact on them in a very specific way is an amazing feeling.”
Pollard, who has been at UGA for 10 years, really appreciates the collegial atmosphere among professors at Hodgson.
“The faculty that I work with are really wonderful. They’re not only excellent musicians, but great people as well,” she said. “Everyone is very supportive of each other here, attending each other’s performances and collaborating on chamber music pieces, but we are all also very invested and focused on student success.
“We are all trying to keep students’ interests in mind and determine the best educational experience for our students,” Pollard said.