31: Breaking the Barriers as a Women Band Conductor with Julia Baumanis

Show Notes:

Everywhere aound the world, generations of women have been paving the way toward a society that fosters inclusivity, diversity and equality.

In this episode, we’ll get a chance to listen to Julia Baumanis. She’s going to share with us how her initial passion for music became the guiding light to her career as a band director.

Aside from discussing her rise to the musical world, she’s going to elaborate on her aspirations, navigating through the pandemic and why she is embracing her gender as a medium to raise awareness and encourage more women to be leaders in their expertise.

Dr. Julia Baumanis is Assistant Director of Bands at Rutgers University, Mason Gross School of the Arts and is the first female band director in the university’s history. Previously, she served as Assistant Director of Bands and Director of Athletic Bands at the University of Central Missouri and served as Multicultural Chair for the Missouri Music Educators Association. 

She has presented her research nationally and most recently has focused on developing a conductor’s baton that records data collected from a conductor’s expressive gestures. She is a graduate of Florida State University, where she received her PhD in Music Education and Instrumental Conducting.

Audio Editing: Podcast Engineers

Links Mentioned in Today's Episode

Email: j.baumanis@rutgers.edu

Instagram: @JuliaBaumanis


Instagram: @theconductorspodcast @tingchaowen

Website: www.chaowenting.com

Facebook: Chaowen Ting

Chaowen: 0:02
Hi everyone, this is Chaowen recording in May 2023, after finishing the first season of The Conductor’s Podcast, I have decided to give this podcast project, a dedicated website with more user friendly functions. So now we have a brand new website called theconductorspodcast.com. Straightforward, right? And now we also have its own Instagram handle. It’s also the same, @theconductorspodcast. So all the show notes have been moved to the new side. And I invite you to come check out all the resources and happy listening.

Julia: 0:49
I want to be liked and loved because I have set up in an environment for my students to feel safe so that they can be successful. That’s the biggest thing I again, I went into this not thinking I was going to be a band director. I thought I was certain I was not going to be a band, I would be anything but. And here I am. band director for life, right. I am in school literally for the rest of my life because I work at schools. So accepting that and understanding that at the core of what I do, music is the tool for which I create the space for others.

Chaowen: 1:28
Hey there, welcome to The Conductor’s Podcast. I’m your host Chaowen Ting, a conductor with over 20 years of experience working with professional symphony orchestras, opera houses, new music groups and vocalist. I’m also founder of Girls Who Conduct and has mentored hundreds of conductors from across the globe. I created The Conductor’s Podcast to share all the behind the scenes secrets with you, while I interview conductors, musicians and business gurus from around the world. This is a space created for conductors, conducting student musicians. And now musicians who are curious and interested in learning more about the profession, craft, industry and business.

Chaowen: 2:15
Shy away from the real talk? No way. Money, hardship, growth and the roller coaster of a conducting career are all topics we discuss here will give you a simple, actionable step by step strategies to help you take action on your big dream. Move through the fear that’s holding you back and have a real impact. Now, pull up a seat, make sure you’re cozy and get ready to be challenged and encouraged while you learn.

Chaowen: 2:53
Hi, there, welcome to another episode of The Conductor’s Podcast. I’m your host Chaowen Ting and I’m so glad to have you here with me. Happy April and happy Thursday if you’re listening on the day when this episode is released, and as always happy any day if you’re just catching up and listening to the past episodes. In the classical music world. We have been hearing a lot of the first woman holding signs or positions. And while it’s sad to see still a woman being the first of something in the 21st century, the first is slowly a great thing to celebrate.

Chaowen: 3:39
My guest today Dr. Julia Baumanis was the first for every single position that she has held. And today in our conversation she is going to share with us her experience as a woman band director at the college level. She is currently the Assistant Director of Bands at Rutgers University, Mason Gross School of the Arts, and she is the first female band director in the university’s history. Previously, she served as Assistant Director of Band and Director of Athletic Bands at the University of Central Missouri and also served as multicultural chair for the Missouri Music Educators Association.

Chaowen: 4:27
She has presented her research nationally and most recently has focused on developing a conductor’s baton that records data collected from a conductors expressive gestures. She is a graduate of the Florida State University where she received her PhD in music education and instrumental conducting. We had so much fun recording this episode with our shared experience as the very author The only or one of the few women in the field. And without further ado, that dive into the conversation. Welcome, welcome, Julia. I’m so excited to welcome you to The Conductor’s Podcast, and also for the fact that we finally have time to get together to talk about really important things.

Julia: 5:20
Yes, absolutely. It’s kind of been a, you and I are both so busy. So this is cool that we finally made it happen.

Chaowen: 5:27
Yeah, I’m so super excited. But before we get started though, can you give everybody just a brief intro of your background and how you get to where you are right now?

Julia: 5:36
Yeah, sure. So right now, my current position is Assistant Director of Bands at Rutgers University, you and I were just talking off camera a little bit that I wear many hats here, I conducted the symphony band, which is as we speak an 87 member ensemble, it’s really, really big and comes with challenges, but also comes with really nice, beautiful sounds. And we like being a robust ensemble. I teach music education courses here. So basic conducting and rehearsal skills and how to be an orchestra and band ensemble director at a school level K-12. And then I assist with Athletic Bands, so I assist with our big marching band. But I run the pep band program here at Rutgers, which we’re in the middle of March Madness. So it’s kind of a heavy athletic band side right now, how I got to all of this was honestly I call it happy accidents.

Julia: 6:30
I didn’t think I was going to be a band director. I was always good at music, I joined middle school band, just because I liked music. I had inherited a piano from my grandmother, my father’s mother. So it took some lessons here and there. And I figured, okay, if I’m in school, what’s a great way for me to continue music and band was the option. So I played clarinet and join middle school band went into high school, I was always really good at it. But I was never going to be a music major. I thought I was going to be a business major. My mom’s a college business professor, I thought I was going to be a doctor, a medical doctor, that was really into things like that. But then I kept getting scholarships for music. And I kept finding like my, you know, they trap you, right? They’re like, Oh, you could do what you love forever. And it’ll be great. It’ll be fine.

Julia: 7:15
So I wound up going to Florida State University on scholarship for music. And still, then I had no idea that I was going to be a music teacher, I thought I was going to be performance. Um, I was looking at musicology for a little bit music therapy for a little bit. But I will always blame lovingly, my band director, Dr. Patrick Dunn, again, who said, You’re not a music ed major, you need to change that right now. And then he just walked away. So I did, I changed and I did music, and still not sure about it on my went all the way into my student teaching semester where you go, and you are placed in a school for a year. And then I met students, and I loved that light bulb moment for students who you can influence how they discover music and see them go through the process. And I was hooked. So I blame the kids. I never looked back I actually I was my first teaching job after I was an intern at that school, JP Taravella high school, they offered me the position. So I’ve never looked back. And then I guess I just continued, but I really wanted to teach future music teachers how to teach and to do that you become a college band director. So that’s sort of where I am now. It really was not my plan at all. But I’m happy it turned out to be that.

Chaowen: 8:27
I love how you say it’s it was happy accidents. I had a friend who had a similar analogy. She said my life turned smoothly, unexpectedly. Yeah, that’s yeah. But I really want to congratulate you on winning the position at Rutgers. And it must have been really interesting. Get in a position during the pandemic, and you have to start everything sort of back. But with very different and uncertain circumstances. Can you talk a little bit about that was like,

Julia: 9:00
Yeah, again, another happy accident pandemic, nobody, you know, none of us. I mean, I guess we sort of saw it. I’ll leave that to the scientists and the people who were supposed to make decisions about that stuff. But none of us realized that we were going to have to transition so quickly to doing what we do, which is a social activity, a live social, visceral activity to online, and none of us quite had the resources. I mean, there’s always been, I think, some people in our field that have incorporated technology more I’m married to a sound engineer. So his world is all about music and technology. But it was strange. It was very strange.

Julia: 9:40
At that time, I was teaching at University of Central Missouri. That was my first college gig. And it’s a smaller school. It’s nothing compared to the size of records just to different populations rural. So a lot of my students didn’t have like, internet that really worked like they were home. They were you know, so we work through a lot of things too. gather. And I think it helps me bond with those students more when you go through something like a struggle like that which all of us were going through, you come out, bound a little bit tighter to the people that you go through it with. So I wasn’t looking, I wasn’t planning on going anywhere. I was my second year or no, it was my first. My second year, everything runs together and COVID years, I had only been there for a couple years. So when my mentor sent me the job posting for Rutgers and said, Listen, you should really think about this. It was sort of a on the whim type thing. I threw in my hat for it thinking, Okay, well, let’s see where this goes. And I got the first round interview, which was via zoom. And they asked me to sign up for a time and there’s like, 50 time slots, it’s like, okay, there’s a million people applying for this job. There’s no way I’ve been college teaching for just a second. So Fine, I’ll do the first round, and then just leave it at that. And that was, I think, in February, I mean, I did not hear anything until May.

Julia: 11:02
So when that amount of time passes, you just think, okay, they didn’t consider me. And I’ve now learned now that I’m serving on committees, that’s not always the case. Many things have to happen, and many parts have to be put together. So I get this weird phone call from New Jersey, on my cell phone. I was like, I don’t know anybody in New Jersey, this is spam, just let it go. And mainly because at the time, that was the time when vaccines were becoming available to the elderly, and my in laws, who we hadn’t seen family in a long time, just like many of us, finally got vaccinated and drove from Florida, where they live to Missouri to come visit us, their retirees so they could do that. And they were super careful. And they were vaccinated. So they had just showed up to my apartment. I’m in my kitchen hugging my mother in law, and I get this weird phone call from Jersey and I’m definitely thinking it’s spam. And if even if it’s not a I’m not going to pick it up because I haven’t seen family and forever. But then it kept on calling and then there was voicemails, and I’m like, okay, spam usually doesn’t leave voicemails. Then I got an email and it was Todd Nichols from Rutgers University. And the message was, Hey, Todd Nichols. Here. We’re almost done with the process of vetting candidates and you’re one of two finalists. Can you give me a call back?

Julia: 12:17
Like one of two finalists? Isn’t there like a step in between? Like, isn’t there like, Okay, now we’re gonna, we narrowed it down to like 14, 15, not 50. So that was pretty cool. And I told my in laws and my husband, they all looked at me like, answer the freaking phone, like, pick it up, call back. So I did. And we had planned this whole trip together, like sort of doing outdoor tourist activities, going to gardens and zoos. And we had all of this planned out, because we’re so excited to your family. And while I was in the middle of this, like trip, this family trip hanging out. I’m like doing interviews, I’m making negotiations. And something about the way that Todd Nichols and Bill Berz and Steve Kemper, Todd Nichols is the Director of Bands at records. But Bill Berz was the director of the department. And Steve Kemper is now the new director of the department, something about the way they talked to me and something about how they were interested in finding out who I was as an artist, and as an educator, and something about how they valued my heavy background in music education, as well as my artistry for conducting. It just clicked. Something was okay. These people are speaking my language, I always say that I’m a conductor educator. And some people say, Oh, I’m, I’m a conductor, or I’m a music educator, and that they don’t marry the two.

Julia: 13:39
And I think very much. So if you’re in charge of people who are musicians, and you’re teaching them how to teach, and you’re teaching them how to do group social music, it’s all the same, right? And we’re in the business of dealing with people. So they were saying a lot of words that were people first language, which is much am I really like that. And they knew exactly what they’re doing, because they found out who my husband was, and that he’s in the grad. He’s in the Grammy Recording Academy, and he’s a sound engineer, and he like revives music studios, and gets them producing again, and he has a couple albums under his belt. And they said, also, we found out who your husband is, and there’s a position for him here as well. That was the thing that really was the I don’t want to say nail in the coffin because that sounds kind of morbid, but the thing that got us here, my husband’s industry shut down just like all of ours, but shut down even more so because he’s into live recording and mixing and mastering and when you can’t bring people together to play music, you can’t do your job. So his industry shut down.

Julia: 14:45
He was doing some virtual stuff, which was incredibly helpful, but definitely not the same. So he was hunting for jobs and you know, we’re all going through stuff and we all had loss and he was experiencing loss as well so I couldn’t turn to my husband. and say, Hey, I passed up this gig that’s about an hour away from Manhattan for what you do. And also they wanted to hire you. But I just passed it. Now I couldn’t do that to him. It was hard leaving my students and it was weird accepting over zoom. But everything just felt right. And it was a leap. But it was a leap that we felt comfortable with. And I think it’s because of the way that people at Rutgers were talking during the interview process.

Chaowen: 15:23
So during the interview process, you’ve never connected the band, it was just Oh, zoom and talking. Yeah, I had one of those positions, too.

Julia: 15:31
Yeah, it was all, because they weren’t meeting. Rutgers was completely virtual throughout the entire pandemic. Unlike my university, my university was meeting and doing live rehearsals, of course, was like mitigations, bags, instrument, metal covers, masks, instrument masks, distancing, all the things besides putting my students in a bubble. They weren’t meeting so they’re even if I could, they could not. So they and again, that was sort of a thing that helped me make the leap is that they trusted my video, and they trusted my materials. And they accepted me sight unseen, almost. So to have that much faith in what I do, and to believe in me without even knowing me, was sending me good energy to come here.

Chaowen: 16:14
But I also want to emphasize because I know when you’re the candidate is feel so vulnerable, you’re being judged or have impact. But now I’ve served on quite a few committees, it’s also for you to trust them, because you know, like moving your family leaving your current position is a lot to ask any candidate. And for you to feel comfortable knowing that this transition, were worth your time with all the changes and your family and everything. It’s a mutual thing that just like they had faith, and you also had faith in them. That was fabulous. So how did it feel? You have everything, suddenly everyone’s back? That you’ve never met them? Did you feel that you needed some time? Because that usually between the previous director and the new director, there is a little bit weirdness between transitions? Did you feel any of those?

Julia: 17:06
You know, it’s interesting, I’ve had, I think, unusual circumstances at any position that I’ve taken over. So my first high school job that I took over, I was the student intern, so the students knew me before I was hired. So that was easy. And the guy retired, so they knew he was leaving for good reason he had been teaching there for over 20 years. And he was very much loved. But they wanted to keep me because the students knew me. My second position, the person that I took over for left on very sudden terms. So they were and then they had a grad student take over that position. So the students understood that that grad student was new, and that he did a really good job, but he was still in school. And it was very temporary. So they welcomed me with open arms because I was a constant. And then here as well, the person that I took over for got another position. And then they were without a person in my position throughout the pandemic. So it had this buffer time, this transition time of so many different things changing. And so I wasn’t the only change. So there hasn’t been really any resistance at all.

Julia: 18:15
And I want to also say to that had there been no buffer, and had I been the thing that changed for them, I still think they would have accepted me with open arms. These students are incredibly intelligent. It’s Rutgers is almost an Ivy League school, they’re very forward thinking progressive thinking students, they advocate for themselves very well. And that is at the root of what I teach as well. I like to empower my students to stick up for themselves, and to make that transition just fine. And when they go from student to professional musician. So when they saw that I speak like that, and they also speak like that the energies just click. I mean, I’ve been on a bus with 30 of them for last few weeks. And it’s been the most enjoyable group of students ever. They’re just what do you need? Oh, this is cool how we did that? Oh, that’s really interesting. They want to know about the process. And these are music majors and non music majors as well.

Julia: 18:15
I’ve had it really easy. I’ve had it really lucky. I guess the transition thing that I have to get used to is I went from a smaller college to a larger college. So although the work amount is still the same, it’s on a bigger, more public scale. So there was this article released about me just a couple days ago about me conducting the pep band and the they call it the trapezoid of terror arena, because it’s one of the loudest like decibel loudest arenas in basketball and college basketball. And then they transitioned it into my ensemble in my story and you know, I’m the daughter of two immigrants and that kind of stuff, and it I’m not a person that’s like, I go viral, and like I don’t even know what tick tock is or how to use it, but like this really blew up.

Julia: 19:51
And as I’m in Indianapolis this past week for the big 10 Basketball conference, I had people who were from the Alumni Association who have nothing to do with music come up to me and say, You’re the girl from the article, you’re the girlfriend. So that is the weird thing for me that I’m getting used to being in the public eye a little bit more, because it is a higher profile University. So that’s a little thing to get used to. But I don’t have to do it alone. My students are also on TV with me and my colleagues are also on TV with me. So all of us have to deal with the strange a little bit together.

Chaowen: 20:36
But as you’re saying that the people will look at you, oh, you’re the girl. That’s an article, did you feel that you were singled out? Because you were also happened to be a woman in the department and a boys club? And in a sense, because traditionally band and band directors people look up to a man generally, how does it feel from your experience?

Julia: 21:01
Yeah, oh, 1,000%, I was the article title was pep band director behind earth shattering chance shatters glass ceiling, it was something like that. And it was released during women’s month and all that. So of course, that’s absolutely part of it. You know, I used to shy away from that kind of stuff. Because I want to be known. For me, I want to be known because I’m good at what I do. And it’s taken me a long time to say I’m just really good at what I do. And I have grit to get through the hard stuff. And that has nothing to do with my gender, my gender identity, where I come from the fact that I am a daughter of two immigrants. None of that translates to what’s on my job description, none of it.

Julia: 21:48
But it’s so much a part of who I am visually, to the people looking in. Because there are not many people that look like me and what I do. And I used to shy away from it, but I stopped shying away from it. And now I’ve sort of turned my work into creating spaces for us to highlight people like me, so that I’m not the only one. And the goal to me is that there’s so many people who look like me and what I do that we don’t have to talk about firsts anymore. I don’t want to be the first anymore, but I have been the first female band director at every place that I’ve ever worked since I started high school, middle school, college, all these different things, every position that I’ve ever held, I’ve been the first one. And that’s just the female side of it. That’s also the bipoc side of it, too. I have to embrace that. Because for some reason, even though I never had a female music teacher, I never thought what I did was going to be impossible. I never felt like oh, you’re gonna have to work harder, because then I now realize that, but I’ve sort of been like naive to the whole thing.

Julia: 22:59
And I think it’s because I saw my mom, who is a college business professor, I think I talked about, she’s five foot something. She’s a small Filipino woman, she grew up in extreme poverty. And now she’s an International Business and Management teacher and like runs companies like she’s a CEO. And there are really not a lot of you. I don’t know if there’s anybody else like her in what she does. I think she might be literally the only one in the world. So I saw her as a young girl. I saw her go through that stuff where people would call the house and ask her doctor about mantis. And she say this is Dr. Baumanis. It’s like, oh, I’m looking for your husband.

Julia: 23:35
So I saw her go through these things. And whether I realized it at the time or not, she went through these crazy things that I think fortunately, you don’t have to go through as much anymore nowadays. But that was always something that was processing. And I think in the back of my mind, now that I’m in a position and now that I realize how unique I am to my field and exactly what I do. I embrace it. But having her as a role model made me realize that I don’t have any barriers because she did it. I can do it too. And she did it in like crazier circumstances. So I want to say lucky again, happy accidents. I feel like that’s a theme for me. But you know, a lot of I do know of girls who say they never had a female music teachers. So I never had a female music teacher, but I had my mom as a role model.

Julia: 24:25
But that’s not the case for everybody. So if I could be that for whoever needs it, then more power to it. You know, I mean, while yes, I was in this article 1,000% It was highlighted that I’m the first female band directors at Rutgers University, which has been established as university in some situations, or in some case, since 1766. first female conductor band director at Rutgers. I lean into it now because I know that I don’t want to be the first anymore. That is awesome.

Chaowen: 24:59
I wasn’t the first but I was very often the only woman and my department for five years. And then for a lot of like workshops, like I was the only girl and all that, but I felt you when you say it’s like, at the beginning of my career, I would hate the label that that was the first woman or that woman conductor. I’m a woman of color. But then I think one point I just say, Screw it. A lot of men got the position because they were men. Why do I have to feel bad? If I got a position because I’m a woman, I just good. And I’m good at what I do. And I just need the chance to prove myself. But I love that how you say it about role models, because that’s how we are hearing specially from Girls Who Conduct as well that a lot of girls told us that they never thought it was possibly because they never see people join and, and it wasn’t something that bothered me at all. I never thought I couldn’t be a conductor. Because I didn’t see anyone that was not

Chaowen: 24:59
Yeah, I don’t know. So I couldn’t really relate to that. But as a field now, I think you point out the ratio of men and women and college band directing is nine to one. What do you feel that we can do? Or are there shared challenges between those folks? Neither women or non binary or like anyone included that we can bridge out to more people like making it more like to say we don’t want to be the first we want to be one of the 10 or one of the many?

Julia: 26:31
Yeah, I think things like Girls Who Conduct the work that you’ve done, the work that women band directors international does, they have a mentorship committee that starting up that I’m going to be on. LaToya Webb from University of Texas, Austin is doing fabulous work about empowering female conductors. And the research is nine to one, right. And that’s my own research. Along with LaToya Webb and Dawn Farmer, we looked at divisions, one, two, and three of NCAA NASM accredited schools in the United States. And we found everybody who was a band director, and we looked at what their gender was. And we looked at what their position was, and we looked at, are they tenured are they associate are they lecture, and the ratio is nine to one.

Julia: 27:16
And it’s still nine to one, because I started that research in 2016, with just Division One schools, it was nine to one in 2016, it’s nine to one and 2021, which is when we just did this expanded study. And that’s disheartening to say to somebody, right, but to me, it’s you got to read into the research a little bit more. Most of the females in that study held the position of assistant or Associate Director of Bands, meaning they’re one step away from the top full professor, Director of Bands. And most of those women are younger, which means they have some more years in their career. So I think it’s going to flip very soon, I think this is going to overturn very soon to where the ratio is not going to be nine to one, I don’t think it’ll be even. And I definitely don’t think it will be, you know, the majority, I don’t think that will ever happen quite honestly. Nor do we want it to. You know, we want it balanced. We want everything balanced, right? We want it so balanced, that it’s not even a topic that we talk about anymore. That’s the goal, right? So I think that there’s hope for it. When I had another journalist reached out to me about the article that came out about me and said, Are you the only female band director in the big 10?

Julia: 28:36
And the answer is no big 10 schools have quite a bit of female band directors. And that was really cool when I went to Midwest band and orchestra clinic. And we went to a big 10 athletic band directors meeting. And I saw all these females in the room like for the first time, I was like, Oh, my gosh, there are so many of us. And I pointed it out. And I think it was Tiffany galenson, who’s at Indiana. And she said, Oh, yeah, that’s kind of normal for the big 10. I was like, that’s so cool. Because I’ve never had that experience before. So one of the most storied in history and legendary conferences in NCAA has a beautiful representation and a lot of women who are at the highest level of what they do. To me, it’s just signs that everything is about to be more balanced. And the fact that we’re talking about it to this wasn’t a thing that we always talked about, right?

Julia: 29:28
When you and I first started out, we didn’t want ourselves as women, we didn’t want to talk about it. So I think the talking about it, the projects around it, the presentations, the advocacy. I also want to point out that every mentor that I’ve had, has championed me you can’t do what I do without somebody to open the door for you. Like you can try to do it on your own. But at the end of the day, you’re gonna get the big gig because somebody who’s your mentor who is in a big gig big position, makes the phone call for you. and speaks on your behalf. It is a vetting reference thing, let’s just be clear about that.

Julia: 30:06
A lot of what we do is about who we know. And if our work is good, and it speaks to ourselves, and these champions in our field can champion us because of our work. You’re in, right? So I’ve had fabulous people make phone calls for me, they’ve all been men. I’ve had fantastic mentors, they’ve all been men. And they’ve always told me, I would never be the one to bring it up. But they’ve always told me, you know, it’s very, very, very, very cool that you are doing what you’re doing. And do you have any idea how much this is going to mean to future women in this field? They would point it out, which, as a man, I think you have to have some bravery to do you have to have some vulnerability, because it’s not your wheelhouse, right. But they understand that it’s not a men versus women thing. It’s not a problem for women ourselves to solve. It’s everybody in the communities issue to figure out just like it is for why is the race gap still here? Why are we only teaching this type of music? Why are we not expanding to these different composers or styles in our why are we so married to the western classical field? Why is there no balance. So all of these things are community issues, and I just have been a part of a community that’s been really good about helping lift me up. And I don’t even have to ask for it. They just knew. So if we can continue to do that, if people in the leadership positions, whoever they are, can help to bring the next generation up. And whatever we use their power for good. I see this as not going to be a big issue anymore in 20 years,

Chaowen: 31:49
I didn’t know the details of the statistics. And I’m so glad that you shared the research side of it. And I wanted to echo on that, because we see it in professional orchestral organizations and positions as well. What we found is there are a lot more women getting assistant or associate positions where principal guest conductor or resident conductor, while they are all younger, probably before 40ish. That also tells us I don’t know, like it felt like for some organization, it felt safer for them to put women at an assistant role or of helper role, and then also checks their diversity box. It also tells us that the women have a little older generation more experienced, maybe even more qualified or not getting chances they deserve, because they don’t look as young or as helpers. And that’s what I’m hearing from a lot of the those women before me, but I hope that’s another. That’s probably where’s the talk of like a whole month.

Chaowen: 32:59
But I wanted to circle back from what you said about your mentors, because I was, I had a similar experience. Every single one of my teachers were men. But they never said anything to me differently because I was a woman. But somehow that didn’t prepare me into the jobs in the sense that they didn’t understand what obstacle, what barriers were out there. And they kept telling me as long as you’re good, you win it. As long as you have really sharp techniques. You’re a great musician, you win it. When I go out. And we have a Chinese expression. It’s like it’s a little bunny into the giant wood like, I didn’t know how to respond to some of the things that happened to me. Or I didn’t know they were not okay, because I had never experienced or was not prepared for it. Do you have any similar experience? Or do you mind sharing some of the stories?

Julia: 33:51
Yeah. Our male mentors. I feel like they can’t prepare us for that. Because they’ll never have to go through that. Just like my friends who are white and not a bipoc person can’t ever understand. Just like I could never understand their experience. You know what I mean? So I think that’s part of the issue is that there aren’t people who look like us who are yet the top mentors. When you and I get there, we could start something. That’d be like, okay, the things that nobody else talked about. Let’s get into it. And I think that’s kind of what you’re doing here with this podcast. And there have been times where they are a little bit short sighted on their reality of things where, oh, they didn’t mean it like that. And I was like, Oh, really? Because this is how it translated to me a woman person of color in this field. Yeah, absolutely. Oh, you know, it’s really cool that they allowed you to do this. It was like, well, am I just the token on the podium at this point?

Julia: 34:53
So I feel like I’m talking about microaggressions here in my mentors. I’ve all been of an older generation. So again, I think the way we speak now is different from how they were taught, they would say, I remember some stuff when I was in high school where we’d have like an old school conductor come work with our ensemble. And it’s like egregious things that if they said now, no way, no way at all. But to deal with the microaggressions. What I do is I go to the people who also have those experiences.

Julia: 35:27
I have a very, very dear friend who has been a really almost a mentor to me, she was never officially my teacher, but she should have been. Her name is Dr. Ingrid Larragoity-Martin, she teaches in Colorado right now. But she’s been a college band director, high school director of these fantastic, outrageously good ensembles that she’s on the ideas Committee for National band Association, she takes things and initiatives that need to happen and makes them happen in she gets the funding for them. And she gets the people on board and she gets government officials and she doesn’t like so effortlessly. She’s just like, a people person, like she knows how to bring people together. So whenever I go through this stuff, I call her because she’s half American, half Chinese. I want to say she’s 10 years older than me. And people always think that we’re sisters. That’s how much we look and act the same way. And so she went through it 10 years ahead of me. So she’s been through more of the junk, more of the aggressions more of this more of that. And because she’s been through it, then because she had her experience and how she dealt with it. And then also dealt from the blowback of how she dealt with it or the successes of how she dealt with it. She can say, Okay, well, this happened to me, and this is how I handled it. And that’s how that turned out. So maybe go the opposite way. Or no girl, this is like too much of a thing. You need to not allow this to happen, don’t make this part of the culture. So I turn to that person.

Julia: 37:01
And I also have another person who was never my teacher, but a fabulous human being an educator and leader Pat Sester, who is in Missouri. She was one of the first women band directors in Missouri, the actual state in the 70s. And she’s shared her story with them and band directors international during their summer conference last year, where there was a news crew that like snuck onto her marching band field, and had a news story about her because they’re like, oh, my gosh, a woman teaching. Are we all doomed? It was like, supposed to be a doom and gloom story.

Julia: 37:33
And they’re like, we’re in the bushes filming her. And I’m like, Pat, how did you just not pack up and quit? And she’s like, what would that do for my kids. And she’d take her marching band, which was a fabulous marching band, which one everything always to competition. And all of the other bands would be set aside by five yards from her band. The band directors made them stand five yards away from her band, like she was a disease or something. And I said, What did you tell your kids? And she says, I just told them, this, isn’t you, this is me. And she said, I stopped going out onto the field with my kids so that they would treat my kids fairly, and to hear stories like that of grit to get through the BS, is that puts it in perspective for me, when I have something happened to me, that’s like a microaggression tokenism moment.

Julia: 38:27
I remember the stories I call my people, and it puts it in perspective for me, and it sort of resets that, okay, why am I here? Why am I doing this? It’s for my students, it’s for the art, those people are going to fade away very quickly, because I’m going this way. And I’m taking all these wonderful people with me. So that’s the way that I deal with it. And I know that my male mentors and male colleagues won’t ever truly understand. They’re all allies, but they won’t ever truly understand. And I can’t fault them for that. I can fault them for what I tell them. This is wrong, and they don’t try to actively make a change. But those people aren’t my mentors.

Chaowen: 39:08
Yeah, I love hearing those stories, because I had so many and then. Yeah, as I say those microaggressions. And sometimes they don’t know it, and they don’t mean yet, but it doesn’t mean what they are doing this okay. Or, but it’s also I think it’s a shared responsibility. We have to let them know it’s not okay. They didn’t know because no one had told them and it’s not too late, as long as we know, kind of it’s an educational experience. I felt. Yeah, yeah. And I wanted to ask you a question because I was asked about that and an interview, and I didn’t have that experience. So I wanted to hear your thoughts. So I was asked one time, if I felt now I’m a woman conductor or also a conductor of color, that I had to act in that way. category was like, I never thought that I was a woman. And then now because everybody thinks you’re a woman conductor, you should act or like do certain things.

Julia: 40:10
Like, first of all, what the heck does that mean? Like? I’m a woman? Oh, my gosh, I had no idea. Okay, so like now that I’m a woman, I have to let you know. And then you like, what mold exactly are they asking you about? So like, if somebody? Yeah, sorry, go ahead.

Chaowen: 40:27
No, I wasn’t, for the interviewer. I think she got that idea from some of the people that she interviewed. So somebody conducts a share that they never felt they were a woman until they were labeled, and started to be expected to do a certain thing. And that was shocking for them. And so she asked if I had that experience, I say no. And also on the racial side, because I grew up in Taiwan. So I didn’t feel that racial tension growing up. So I never felt that I was different. I was a minority that my kids are going through. But I was just curious.

Julia: 41:02
I used to get asked, What does it feel like to be a woman conductor?

Chaowen: 41:06
No, I get the as that a lot too. Or I got asked, Do you feel you are discriminated because you’re a woman? I say I don’t know. Because I was, I was never a man. So I don’t know how they were treated.

Julia: 41:17
Well, and my response, and I think I said it a couple of times, but like I have to be careful. But now that I’m older, and I’m like in a gig, if somebody asks me it, I, I do a little tongue in cheek because it is kind of like, that was something people asked me like a long time ago, more so than they asked me now, they’re a little bit more tactful about their question. But when I used to get the question, how does it feel to be a woman conductor? I just want to say, I don’t know, how does it feel to be a man conductor? Or I just went, Oh, my gosh, my ovaries get in the way all the time. Like I get on the podium and my ovaries just say, Nope, this is going to be hard for you. Like nothing about what we do. Right? has anything to do with our gender. There’s no tie between my genetic body parts.

Julia: 42:05
And you know what? So it’s always it’s, I giggle when people ask me that. And then they’re kind of like, oh, yeah, that was kind of poor. For me. I was like, I understand. There’s a thing for me call. And it’s really I want to give a shout out to Clifford Madsen, who was my music ed mentor, and basically my grandfather, everybody who went to FSU, who is music ed, like, this is their grandfather. And he just announced his retirement finally, in the spring, and all of us are sad, but all of us are so happy for him. He taught us all about intention versus function.

Julia: 42:35
So when somebody asks me a wackadoo, question like that, which I think it’s a weird question. I say, Okay, first of all, Julie, and this is all my brain Calm down. What is their intent? Right? And is it matching how it’s functioning for you? And is this a person whose intent is great? And if you told them, Okay, listen, I know that you’re intending to ask me about what it’s like to be a little bit of a minority in my field. And if I have, you know, but it’s functioning as a little bit icky, because there’s really no difference of me, like, I don’t turn into like a literal Superwoman with a cape on the podium. I’m just me, I just step up and get a little bit taller. That’s the difference, right? Is this person going to be a person that I can make this into a teaching moment for?

Julia: 43:29
Or is this person’s intent? Not a good intent? And is the function matching up to be this is not a good place? And is this person just going to be deaf? To what I have to say? Are they not here for the lesson? So I started like that, because I used to fight every battle, like it was a war. I grew up with two sisters, everything was a competition. We’re in a very highly competitive household. So I was like a fighter, right? And a little scrappy fighter. So I used to fight everything. And that turns a lot of people off to your message, right? If your message is to say, Listen, yes, we do need to talk about this. And yes, I am a minority in my field, but quite honestly, I am just me as I am. And those parts of me that are female and bipoc are stuff that I just can’t it’s just my packaging that I came with, the contents are unique because they are Julia or they are whatever my soul is made up of, right? Is this person going to be open to that? Or is this person not going to be open to that? And if they’re not going to be open to that they’re not worth my time?

Julia: 44:38
So I always ask the intention versus function question, what’s the intent and how’s it functioning? And then I go from there, and then I say, okay, is this person going to be open to the message, but I have been asked that question. I mean, I do a lot of interviews and articles about being a female in my field. I also think that when these people are like, well, you have to step into a female role on the podium, I’m curious as to what they think that role is like, do you have to be more soft spoken? Do you have to, like be pretty and like flowy with your conducting or whatever I’m interested to see, like, what they think that is, because I am the exact opposite. And I have been since I was born, my mom used to call me wild child. Because I was loud. I was wrong. I was a crazy kid, I nobody wanted to babysit me when I was little, because I would just like yell at the top for no reason. I just love to, like, make a scene. So I’m like a very extroverted type human, and that if we’re gonna like grossly stereotype what these people might think about the female persona on the podium, I’m not that I also don’t have children of my own. So I don’t know if I’m, I mean, I guess I’m nurturing to my students, but like, I don’t have the experience of raising children of my own. So I don’t know if I’m, like this nurturing type thing that people put on Mothers all the time, right?

Julia: 46:04
I would say in a lot of ways that my husband is a lot more nurturing than I am, because I’m just like, figure it out. I gotta go do this. So it’s all silly. And I approach it sort of like with lightheartedness, because I don’t want to make that person who’s asking the question, if their intent is good, I don’t want to make them feel scared to talk about these things. Because again, if we talk about these things, and we spread the message more, I think there’s going to be more of an understanding of what truly this is.

Chaowen: 46:33
So looking back to all this amazing things that you have done, what is your biggest takeaway? What’s the most important thing that you learned?

Julia: 46:42
The most important thing that I learned, I have two things, I have stuff that deals with people around me. And then I have stuff that’s just like Julia, the thing that I learned for the environment in the community that I serve, which is always my students, right? And when I say my students, I call them my kids. And it’s a term of endearment. It’s not, you know, to put them down or whatever. And they call me Mom, sometimes I just had an email coming from a pep band kid that said, Mom, when are we leaving for the day, you know, that kind of stuff. So I think the biggest thing that I learned is that what I do does have an impact on the people around me.

Julia: 47:19
So I have to not take it so lightly, I have to be kind with my words, I have to be clear with my words. And I have to be clear with my expectations. I feel like a lot of young teachers go into it, and they want everybody to like them, they want to be the teacher that everybody likes, and nobody wants to be hated. Like, that’s weird, right? Unless I guess you’re like an internet troll and you like feed off of that kind of stuff, I guess I don’t know, not me, and definitely not teachers. But I want to be liked and loved because I have set up an environment for my students to feel safe, so that they can be successful. That’s the biggest thing I again, I went into this not thinking I was going to be a band director, I thought I was certain I was not going to be a band, I would be anything but and here I am band director for life, right? I am in school literally for the rest of my life because I work at schools. So accepting that and understanding that at the core of what I do, music is the tool for which I create the space for others, just like any other teacher of any other subject uses their tool, or any other leader of a group or community organization uses that as their tool to create these spaces right for these people. So that’s the thing that I learned the most for the people around me. The thing that I learned about myself, and I’m just now realizing this is that it’s okay, Julia, for you to say that you’re good at what you do. That you are a badass at what you do. I think part of it comes from my parents who are immigrants.

Julia: 48:57
Part of it comes from being perhaps a woman minority in my field and my training part of it comes from not wanting to be so showboat it, and part of it, I think comes from you know, not wanting others to think like, Oh, she’s such a show off kind of stuff. A lot of times I say, Well, I came into this, like I’ve been a designer, he came into this a happy accident. I can you know, and I put a lot of how successful I am on the back of fate and circumstance. But I’m getting better at saying you know what, Julia, the reason why you’ve gotten from this point to this point, this point, yes, right place right time. But the journey between the destination points was you and you’re good at what you do. And that’s okay to say that you’re good at what you do and that you had the grit to get through the bs. Because I think that’s an important message for my students. To you got to be good at what you do. You have to have the grit to get through the bs that comes with what we do, right musicians are, we’re taught to be A perfectionist and perfection is not attainable. It’s not a real thing. But we’re taught to be that way.

Julia: 50:07
So it’s a lot of stuff. And I think a lot of this comes with impostor syndrome. You know, somebody does something great. They posted on social media, like, oh my gosh, they’re five years younger than me, what have I been doing with my life? Ah, right. No, stop, take a breath, celebrate that you are doing big things. And it’s okay to advocate and say, you know, what, I’m good at my job, I’m really like, I’m not just gonna, I’m really good at my job. Because it gives me a push up, right to my soul. Like, I’ve lifted yourself up a little bit. And I know there’s a lot of I’m in a really supportive place. But I know there’s a lot of people who are not in supportive institutions, and they don’t have the resources and everything that I’m fortunate enough to have. So who’s going to be your cheerleader? I have a lot of cheerleaders. I’m very fortunate and privileged that I have a lot of very good cheerleaders for me, lots of people don’t. So you have to be yours.

Julia: 50:58
But I’m doing that for myself, to also make sure that I’m not self sabotage imposter syndrome, which is like a completely other podcast that we could go on for hours about. But that’s something that I’ve learned literally in the last three years to, except to say that I’m good at what I do, which is bonkers, right? So that’s my biggest like, take away from my own individual growth.

Chaowen: 51:23
But that is something sometimes so hard. I’m also in the learning of acknowledging that I was good as well. Like I just came back from Paris and I. After I stopped at quarterfinal I spent a whole day kind of reviewing what I did wrong, or what I could have said differently, or how I could have been better until a mentor said to me, you know, you weren’t good. You didn’t have to you were different. You didn’t do some things that others did. It didn’t mean that you should be because you’re you. And that Gumby thing was like yeah, I I seldom give myself credit for the good parts that I did. And but that’s so important, but you have to be really good at what you do. And to be able to take those happy accident. Those out I feel, but I will put this in the show notes, but I wanted to my audience to listen at from you. So can you share where they can find you if they want to reach out to find a happy mentor or cheerleader?

Julia: 52:23
Yes, I’m getting better at the social media thing. But right now if you wanted to email me, the best way to email me is j.baumanis, which is my last name j.baumanis@rutgers.edu. That is like I’m an email fiend. I used to check like Facebook when I first woke up. Nope, it’s my email. And I it’s probably an issue of some sort. But I love answering emails. It’s like checking something off of a checklist. It’s very strange. I probably need to talk to somebody about it. So if you need me, reach out, you can do email. I’m also on Instagram, @JuliaBaumanis. One word. I’m also on Facebook, Julia Lauren, Baumanis Lauren, my middle name. It’s spelt like Lauren, but it’s pronounced Loren like Sophia Loren, which is what my mother named me after, which is kind of cool. Like, you know, this old like Italian sex pot kind of thing. Like, you named a child of this kind of racy mom. So you can find me at all those places. I do have a TikTok. I will never post on it. So sure if that, great, I don’t have a Twitter. I’m working on that. I promise.

Chaowen: 53:34
I don’t tweet. And I decided I’m not going to try. It’s enough for me.

Julia: 53:39
The Instagram and the Facebook and the email is like about as much as I can handle right now.

Chaowen: 53:44
Yeah, no, I admire people who can handle all that. I just can’t. Yeah, it’s too much. But thank you so much, again, for coming. It’s such a wonderful chat. We should do it more often.

Julia: 53:57
Oh my gosh, I can’t wait to like I can hang out with people not on the internet, and then just leave me for hours, you know? So.

Chaowen: 54:04
Yes. Thank you. Yeah, thanks. Here you go, my friends. I hope that our conversation inspired you if you’re a conducting student, or a young conductor is still working up the ladder. And if you’re an experienced conductor, that you found some common ground and our experiences, or that you share and agree with our visions, and helping the current and the next generations of conductors of color, minority conductors, or women conductors. I can only speak for myself, but I certainly don’t want to be the first and or the only women in my field anymore.

Chaowen: 54:50
I know we still have a long way to go before women can perhaps one day become the majority of the dominating gender in this field. But I’m really glad that we are working toward at least some gender parity on the podium. And it’s really comforting to know that there are a lot of colleagues, both men and women, white and people of color working towards this mission. If you haven’t already, I would really encourage you to check out the website of Girls Who Conduct and a lot of great organizations working towards more diversity, inclusion and equity in the field, including the one that Julia is involved with the Women Band Directors International. Again, I’ll put everything in the show notes and you can find things at chaowenting.com/31 and I will see you next week at the same time, same place. If you’re loving this show, please don’t forget to subscribe and or leave a review on Apple podcast and that will be the best encouragement for me. Thank you and bye for now.