Snapshot: Interview with Marlo Williams

Age: 35

Pursuing: Masters in Double Bass Performance

From: Oklahoma City, OK

Favorite Brew: White tea; coffee that’s not bitter

Carrie Rexroat: How did you get started with music?

Marlo Williams: When I was in 3rd grade there was a recruiting concert at my elementary school to get kids to join orchestra in middle school. I was about knee-high to a cricket at the time, but I fell in love with the bass and I begged to play it. While at the instrument rental shop, the woman there said I was too little, and that I needed to play the violin; I was completely devastated and almost quit. But, when we went back to return the violin, the man who ran the place was there instead and he asked to see my hands. When I held them out for him he said, “you’ll make a fine bass player, I have what you need!” So, I started playing the bassette until about 7th grade, and eventually moved to a regular sized one.

CR: That’s so nice! Specific to Michigan, what’s your overall experience been like here at the music school?

MW: Overall I would say it’s been really good. I’ve had a lot of serious turmoil going on in my life these last few years, went through a divorce, moving, just all kinds of heavy stuff. But, my professors and Dean Racine have been crazy supportive! I’ve been in Dean Racine’s office several times, and the level of help, support, and understanding I’ve gotten has been unbelievable. I fully expected to get kicked out of school because I was falling apart, but they helped me make a plan, break things down, and get through the dark time in my life.

CR: Wow, I’m really happy for you that you’ve had support! In relation to wellness, have you taken advantage of any of the resources that are offered?

MW: Well, they’re pretty good about inundating us with email *laughter*, but because of my kids’ schedule I haven’t gotten to take advantage of any of it yet. That said, I will finally get to go to one of the MedSport Clinics; I’m pretty psyched about that! I’ve been having back problems, and I don’t know if it’s bass related or otherwise, so I figured I’d have them take a look and see if I’m doing something weird that they can fix!

CR: Great! In all of your years doing music, what’s your fondest memory?

MW: That’s a surprisingly easy question for me to answer! When I was a senior in high school in Oklahoma City, the State Legislature was going to cut teacher pay, nothing new. But, that year about 20,000 teachers went on strike and went down to the State Capitol to surround the building the day of voting. My jazz band director called some of us and asked us to go down to the Capitol to play because people were getting rowdy; he figured if there was a band of cute kids playing some rock tunes or something that people would feel a little better. So, we got there, stood on the steps of the Capitol, started playing in front of 20,000 people! I mean, who gets to do that when they’re 17 and not Justin Bieber. I don’t think that high has ever worn off; It’s been almost 18 years since that day, but that was THE experience for me. Best part was is that they didn’t cut the teacher’s pay, so all was well in the world!