‘Written for me’: Catching up with WKU’s newest piano professor


Arthur H. Trickett-Wile

Jessie Welsh, a pedagogical assistant professor of music and piano at Western Kentucky University, poses for portraits in the recital hall at the Ivan Wilson Fine Arts Center Thursday evening, Sept. 8, in Bowling Green, Ky. Walsh, a recent hire at Western, moved to Bowling Green from Dallas, Texas with her husband and son. “The hardest part was getting my pianos moved over,” she said.

Michael Crimmins, Administration reporter

Jessie Welsh was waiting patiently in an Office Depot for some of her piano materials to be ready when a WKU job listing caught her eye.

Welsh remembered thinking the job was meant to be – “like it was written for me,” she said.

Fast forward to the present and Welsh has officially been installed as the Department of Music’s new pedagogical assistant professor of music and piano.

“Pedagogy is usually called the art and science of teaching,” Welsh said. “For instance, my doctoral degree is in piano pedagogy so it’s all about not just performing, but also about how to teach the piano.”

Welsh, who has been teaching for 14 years, said the job at WKU did not “fall into her lap.” For her, it was a long, arduous journey.

“One, the academic job hunt is always a very rigorous one and I certainly expected it to be a several year long hunt, so I feel very fortunate to have landed a tenure-track job right out of my degree,” Welsh said.

Her husband was originally against moving to Kentucky. Welsh said her husband had worked in Nashville and had gone to Louisville, which ended up being a bad experience for him.

“That was the only experience he had of Kentucky,” Welsh said. “[But] as I was reading more about the city and sending him him links that by the end he was like ‘even if you don’t get the job, we should move to Bowling Green.’”

Welsh was hired in August. She moved to Bowling Green in June, enough time to get things settled, she said.

Currently, Welsh is teaching eight classes at WKU ranging from group piano to vocals.

Welsh is also a published author, mostly of pedagogical nature, she said.

“I have written and been published in several magazines,” Welsh said. “I love to write. Everyday I practice the piano, but I don’t have the luxury of getting to write every day.”

Welsh has had a marriage to music all throughout her past. 

Born and raised in Orlando, Florida, Welsh earned her dual undergraduate degrees in music education and performance at the University of Central Florida. She then moved to the Dallas area in 2014, partially because of the music schools there.

“It was the music schools, and also my husband is a diesel mechanic by trade…and we were looking for really good music programs and [a] good transportation industry,” Welsh said. “So that is why we landed in Texas.”

Once in Dallas, Welsh earned two master’s degrees from Southern Methodist University, earning one of them while teaching at SMU.

“I call it my bonus year at SMU because I did a master’s in performance and pedagogy,” Welsh said. “And I had the opportunity to stay as basically an adjunct professor and then continue a master’s of performance. I think I found a loophole to be honest, I got this extra little benefit of this additional year while working for the school and still being able to take lessons and perform.”

Welsh said she tried to stay on as a teacher after graduating from SMU in 2016 and 2017. 

“I thought, ‘I think I really want to teach at a university level,’” Welsh said. “I had been in the running for a lecture position at SMU and they told me, ‘listen, we think you’re great for this, but the field is going such that you need a doctorate.’”

Welsh drove roughly 45 minutes to Texas Christian University to audition for a position there.

“[I] ended up auditioning and got accepted at Texas Christian University in 2018 and decided since my husband’s job was still in Dallas [and] we had a house there, my studio was still there, I didn’t want to uproot that,” Welsh said. “So I actually commuted almost an hour each way everyday for three years.”

She left TCU after finishing her doctorate and having her first child. From there she came to WKU, and said she has every plan to continue at the university.

“What I love most about Western is my colleagues and my students,” Welsh said. “From the moment I had my interview here I just felt so enveloped and welcomed by [my colleagues].”

Administration reporter Michael Crimmins can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @michael_crimm.