The Center for World Music is delighted to profile World Music in the Schools teaching artist Laurel Grinnell-Wilson.
Originally from Northern California, Laurel has been an avid musician since childhood. After exploring the piano, flute, and violin, she started on the drum set when she was 15, playing in her first band with her brother, San Diego bassist Justin Grinnell.
Laurel graduated from Sonoma State University, earning her BA cum laude in jazz performance studies. While teaching and working freelance for several years, she discovered a passion for world music, bringing together her love of anthropology and her love of music. She went on to earn her M.A. in ethnomusicology with honors at San Diego State University.
Laurel has studied Balinese, Sundanese, and Javanese gamelan, performing in Indonesia and throughout Southern California. Since 2007, she has been training intensively under the guidance of renowned gamelan composer, performer, and teacher Djoko Walujo Wimboprasetyo. Laurel has also studied West African drumming, Senegalese kora, as well as Zimbabwean mbira and marimba. With a deep interest in the ways in which cultural-linguistic context and music inform each other, she continues to broaden her expertise in ethnomusicology.
Currently, Laurel is a lecturer and director of the Javanese gamelan ensemble at San Diego State University. In her role as a World Music in the Schools teaching artist, she serves as assistant director of Canyon Crest Academy’s Javanese gamelan ensemble, supporting the director, her mentor and CWM master teaching artist Pak Djoko. In addition, she continues to perform as a freelance jazz artist and as percussionist for musical theater productions and the San Diego Women’s Choir. She has appeared with artists such as Allison Adams Tucker, Lori Bell, Steph Johnson, and Monette Marino.
When she’s not performing or teaching music, Laurel is a mother to two children and an artisan soap maker.
Here’s a short YouTube clip of Laurel playing bonang barung with the SDSU Javanese gamelan, accompanying dancer Casey Lee Sims:
— Contributor Evan Ludington is a student at Canyon Crest Academy and an intern for the Center for World Music.