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Meet Jocelyn Gould… Rising Guitar Star, Bandleader and Guitar Department Head



Jazz Guitar Today’s Women in Guitar Higher Education series continues with Jocelyn Gould, Head of Guitar Department at Humber College.

JGT’s Women in Guitar Higher Education Series continues, Beth Marlis interviews Jocelyn GouldHead of Guitar Department at Humber College.

Above Photo Credit: Simeon Rusnak

Beth: Could you briefly give our readers an overview of your career to date? 

Jocelyn: I’ve performed and/or recorded with Michael Dease, Diego Rivera, Jon Gordon, Randy Napoleon, Freddy Cole, Etienne Charles among others.  I released my successful debut album as a leader ‘Elegant Traveler’ in March 2020.  I’m endorsed by Benedetto Guitars.

What initially drew you into higher education leadership?

I’ve always been really drawn to the mentorship process that is so strong in jazz culture. There is a lineage of mentorship that can be traced back through the generations of jazz history, and in my opinion, this is part of what makes this music so special. As a student, I experienced this mentorship culture in a particularly impactful way upon moving from Winnipeg to Michigan to pursue my Master’s degree at Michigan State University. The culture of mentorship in the Michigan jazz scene is really strong. My teacher at MSU, Randy Napoleon, takes mentorship very seriously and I feel that I owe much of what I have achieved to his generosity and passion for passing knowledge to the next generation. Especially as a younger student, simply having a mentor who believed in me unequivocally did wonders in helping me achieve my potential. One of the things that I unintentionally gained from that relationship was a passion for becoming a mentor myself. When the opportunity arose to become the Head of the Guitar Department at Humber College, I was eager to begin my process of becoming a teacher. 

Can you talk about the emergence of women into guitar education leadership roles? What are your observations about why and how this paradigm shift took place; and do you see it continuing?

There have always been some really amazing women that I have looked up to in guitar education roles, although I have never had the opportunity to study with any of these women. Coming up, I always really loved Sheryl Bailey’s playing, which I was introduced to quite early in my own development. Emily Remler was a huge model for me as well, and I watched lots of videos and read interviews of hers. I absolutely see this paradigm shift continuing. I think that every woman that gets into a leadership position within the guitar world is making it easier for a whole new generation of women to do the same.

Have you seen an increase in the number of women guitar professors in higher education in recent years?

Although I know that there are several high-profile women involved in higher education (who are also being featured in this series of articles), I haven’t seen an increase in women guitar professors in my day to day life. It has struck me that, although there are many women that I love who are doing this, we are all spread out around the world, and I don’t frequently get to interact with other women guitarists in my day to day life. This is something that I am feeling really hopeful will change over the next generation or two!

College level Jazz and Contemporary Guitar Program enrollments still tilt strongly towards a majority male student body. You’ll also find this same disparity among the guitar faculty and senior leadership positions.  Has this situation evolved at your institution? 

One of the most amazing things, from my perspective, is that the year that I began my role as Head of the Guitar Department (Sept. 2019), we had a record number of young women audition to get into the program. As a result, we currently have a more gender diverse group of first-year guitar students than I have seen in any institution that I’ve been at. I’ve also had many women from other instrument areas at Humber reach out to me about taking guitar lessons. Additionally, I have connected with a lot of young women from around the world who have gotten in touch with me to take lessons. It’s been very powerful for me to start connecting with the younger generation. It is also a simple reminder to me that representation is extremely impactful, and that every student deserves to see themselves in their teachers.

As college educators, most of us go about our day-to-day responsibilities without thinking about gender; we do our jobs with utmost professionalism and work to support the growth of our programs, students, faculty, ourselves as leaders and our impact in the community.  Nonetheless, you are a powerful and visible role model for everyone under your purview and far beyond.  Do you have any comments you’d like to share about encountering and successfully overcoming institutionalized sexism or misogyny as an educator and/or professional musician?

I have so many thoughts that I wouldn’t know where to start! What I can say, quite definitively, is that I’m gaining clarity as I get older. When I was a younger student and was still piecing everything together while trying to grow on my instrument, I found sexism to be an almost insurmountable obstacle a lot of the time. As I have grown and learned more about sexism and its constructs, I am learning that these are external problems with the system, and these problems have nothing to do with me or my playing. This realization has been a helpful shift for me, because I am realizing how much I can do to create safer spaces for students to grow.

What are some other obstacles that need to be overcome in order for the guitar world to become more inclusive?

I think that whenever barriers get broken down for women, bipoc (Black, Indigenious, People of Color) women are always the last to see the benefits of these strides. The guitar world won’t be whole until folks who experience intersecting layers of oppressions also have equal space to voice themselves and hold positions of leadership.

Tell us what are your go-to guitar(s) and amp(s) these days?

I play a Benedetto 16-B which I got last year after a visit to the Benedetto shop in Savannah. It’s a really beautiful instrument and I feel so lucky to have it! As far as amps go, I have two Henriksens that I use all the time, as well as a Fender Deluxe Reverb. I also use a Revv D20 quite often for my livestreams.

What are your goals and plans for the future? Is there anything you might want to share with our readers about upcoming gigs, projects, sage advice or final words of wisdom?

I have felt really excited to recently start doing some booking for 2021! I am planning to come out with my second album in the spring of 2021 and will be planning to tour as soon as traveling becomes more doable. My plans are to continue to improve on my instrument, to continue to study the great guitarists that I love, make records, and tour!

For more information on Jocelyn Gould or at Facebook and Instagram

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