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College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Teaching Tunes: Itawamba Transfer Student Pursues Music Education

Ashley Winstead likes to play the flute, but her true love is teaching music.  To reach that goal, she is pursuing the master’s degree in music education at The University of Mississippi.  Yet her path to UM included significant musical experiences in high school and also important mentorship at a community college.

A native of Union, Winstead described her hometown as a “band town.” At Union High School, she not only played the flute but also was a drum major.

“Ever since the fifth grade, I was always pretty good in band,” Winstead said. “While I enjoyed it, I didn’t consider pursuing it as a career until after I attended a local band clinic in my junior year. After that, I knew that I wanted to learn from the best so that I could also be one of the best at teaching others after me.”

Winstead’s desire to pursue music education as a career led her to Itawamba Community College where she was greatly inspired by the UM alumni on the music faculty there.

“My time at ICC stands as some of the best years of my life,” she said. “I got a quality education from great music teachers and made the best friends I will ever have. ICC prepared me well for Ole Miss.”

Winstead is well-rounded, prepared and stays on top of her game, said Brian Gillentine, a UM alumnus and ICC band director who taught her.  “She sets her mind on what she wants, and she does it. She was a real good student,” he said.

Her desire to learn from the best, the strength of the music department’s reputation and the encouragement of her ICC music professors led Winstead to transfer to UM. She then distinguished herself as a member of the university’s Pride of the South Marching Band and said she has learned much from the music faculty.

“David Willson is known as ‘the band director’s band director,’” Winstead said. “There are a lot of really good teachers here. I’ve learned not only the material I’ll eventually be teaching but the best manner in which to teach as well.”

A recipient of the Marcus Elvis Taylor Memorial Medal, which is UM’s highest academic award, and the Krista Vernon Memorial Scholarship in Flute, Winstead maintained a 4.0 grade-point average during her tenure at the university. Besides playing in the marching band, she also participated in a number of extracurricular activities, including UM Symphonic Band, the Lafayette/Oxford/University Orchestra and Women’s Glee. In 2008, she served as a student instructor for the university’s Color Guard. She is a member of Sigma Alpha Iota, Pi Kappa Lambda music honor society and Gamma Beta Phi honor society.