Skip to main content

Faculty feature: Dr. Jeffery Crowell

| Denise Olson

Photo caption: Dr. Jeffery Crowell joined the UW-Eau Claire faculty in 2002 and teaches applied percussion and percussion techniques. He also conducts the UW-Eau Claire percussion ensembles and leads Jazz Ensemble III.

When he's not busy teaching classes, leading jazz and percussion ensembles or working with the Blugold Marching Band, Dr. Jeffery Crowell, a professor of music at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, might be off performing or recording music with his quartet of music-industry friends. 

And this quartet isn't just creating music, it's creating Emmy-winning music.   

Pana Percussion Quartet members are Crowell, Ryun Louie, Alex Stopa and Eliseo Rael, who met one another through various teaching and performing experiences throughout their careers. They now have been playing together for 18 years, and it seems they've "made it big" with their music. 

Top industry award

At the 49th Annual Pacific-Southwest Emmy Awards in June 2023, Pana Percussion Quartet's performance of Stopa's original composition "Spiral" received three Emmy nominations, winning two of these in the categories of Arts and Entertainment and Director — Short Form Content. Watch the "Spiral" music video here

"The Emmy win is the icing on the cake of a great project with my friends and colleagues. It was so much fun to record and shoot the video in Las Vegas, and the final result speaks for itself," Crowell says. 

"I'm honored to be part of the group and this project really reflects how the four of us work together, all bringing our own strengths, yet coming together cohesively. The award was a wonderful surprise." 

Crowell's recent award is just one example among the many Blugold faculty members sharing their craft and expertise far beyond campus, ways for Blugolds and the greater community to get to know them even better. We asked Crowell to tell us a little more about his career and time in Eau Claire. 

What led you to get into teaching? Tell us about your path.

I originally went to undergrad to be a professional musician. Freelance work in Los Angeles was my goal, but toward the end of my freshman year, I started teaching at a local high school and really enjoyed the experience. I continued to do that and realized that teaching at the collegiate level would be so much fun — engaging with students choosing this aspect of their education as a significant focus of their life, getting to coach percussion ensembles and still being able to be a professional musician outside of my campus job. 

I then went to get my master's degree at Eastern Illinois, taught for one year at Purdue University, another at Chadron State College in northwest Nebraska and realized then I needed to get my DMA. I then went to the University of Southern California and got another job after at Montana State University Bozeman. During my first year there, I auditioned for and was offered the job here at UW-Eau Claire. I’ve been here ever since that fall of 2002.

What's one thing you want every student coming into your classes to know about you? 

That I want every student to engage in the learning process and know that I’m totally vested in helping them achieve their goals. I am as much a mentor as I am a teacher, and I want them to know that I care about them as musicians and individuals. I’m here for them in every aspect of their lives while enrolled at UW-Eau Claire. I want everyone to reach their maximum potential and I’m their biggest fan!

What is something you've worked on at UWEC that you're especially passionate about?

Keeping a positive and supportive environment for my percussion studio and the greater department, as much as I can. I really think we learn best when we are guided, supported and encouraged, and I continually strive to make sure that the students, ensembles and faculty I engage with see that facet of me. 

What do you enjoy most about being part of the UW-Eau Claire community?

The campus atmosphere in and around Haas Fine Arts is fantastic. I love the collegiality of the faculty and how we are all so driven for excellence while keeping the student experience our priority. That focus creates a great learning atmosphere. In addition, the way we teachers all get along with each other sets the tone  for students and provides them an encouraging environment to be their best.

If you hadn't become a professor, what would you be doing for a living?

I'd be a professional musician playing music for a living. Or maybe something with animals like a vet tech; I love animals. Possibly something in archaeology; I’m fascinated by that. But I feel like teaching chose me and I chose teaching; it worked out the way it should have.

When you're not on campus, where in Eau Claire is your favorite spot to be?

Many places — it depends on the season!  I especially like to be sitting outside enjoying the spring or fall weather in my backyard with my dogs running around.

What was the last thing you read? Would you recommend it?

My last read was "Stillness is the Key" by Ryan Holiday and it's great — I highly recommend it. It really relates to the information overload of our world and so many points of input in our daily lives. Wonderful book.