Graduate bassoonist Susan Lawrence McCardell is from Appleton, Wisconsin.
“I began playing bassoon at age 10 and didn’t actually know what I was saying “yes” to when I said, “Sure, I’d like to play that strange-looking instrument!” I was significantly shorter than the bassoon but had no trouble playing it and have been enjoying playing ever since. I especially love playing in orchestras and chamber music groups as well as teaching and coaching students of all ages.
“I chose Ball State because of bassoon professor Dr. Sweger’s excellent reputation as a teacher, his approachable manner as a fellow bassoonist, and his understanding of my unique goals as a nontraditional grad student. I pursued various non-classical music endeavors following my undergrad degrees in bassoon performance and French literature, but then returned to bassoon playing with a passion while working as an IT editor and raising our daughter Carolyn with my musician husband, Stephen McCardell. I then had work opportunities in music teaching part-time at the college level and was sought after as a private bassoon teacher, but I knew there was more to know about the complexities of my chosen instrument that would make me a better musician and teacher. I had been considering grad school for at least 15 years after getting back to playing bassoon, as I looked forward to improving my bassoon playing and reed making, and therefore my teaching, and also wanted to fill in the gaps in my music theory and history background through grad-level courses.
“A unique aspect of my situation was my already having a studio of private students and part-time jobs teaching undergraduate students, based in Appleton, Wisconsin, where Stephen taught music theory at the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music. Thus, it was critical for me to stay connected to my home life almost 7 hours away from the Ball State campus. There were other schools closer to me than Ball State, but my husband and I agreed that if I was going to finally get myself back to school for a master’s degree, it needed to be the right place with the right teacher, and that was clearly Dr. Sweger at Ball State.”