Jody Ellenby

Major: Ethnomusicology
Hometown: Miami

Why ethnomusicology? I have been studying classical voice since eighth grade, and I entered Northwestern as a vocal performance major. However, I knew that my passion for music did not stop at performance. I wanted to understand the context of the music that I sang and loved. After taking World Music Cultures, taught by an ethnomusicologist, I was enthralled by the subject. Northwestern offers an undergraduate degree in ethnomusicology, which allowed me to further explore my interests and use music’s diverse and multifaceted lenses to study culture.

Top accomplishment: My senior thesis. It has tied everything together for me. It’s about early childhood music cultures. I observed 15 different adult-child music classes throughout the Chicago area. I tried to expand my research beyond uniform demographics and branch out into different neighborhoods. I explored the interactions of adults and children guided by informal music learning and play. By observing children’s play, we can attempt to see the deviation from the adult culture and the autonomy of the children’s culture. The class setting serves as a microcosm of the child’s music culture.

What have you learned through your fieldwork? I have to work with children. I believe a child’s inherent creativity is something that needs to be fostered. I think I’m the right person for that job.

What’s next? I’m taking a year off before graduate school to work in some sort of arts education setting, such as Music Together, an international early childhood music program through which I received my certification to become a teacher.

Greatest adventure? Spring quarter of sophomore year I withdrew from school to work for five months in Cochabamba, Bolivia, with an independent artist collective called Colectivo Katari. My sister lives there permanently and is a teaching artist with the collective. I taught music and theater to children in a completely different language and culture.

Fun fact: I grew up on my family’s tropical fruit farm in South Florida. My father is a sustainable-organic fruit and bamboo farmer in Florida and Belize. I am a local, organic, genuine farm girl, and I incorporate these ideals into my everyday life.