This month, Brenda Wilder, assistant professor of music at Tougaloo College, will present her research project, "The Effects of Music for Mental, Emotional and Physical Healing of Residents on the Mississippi and Louisiana Gulf Coasts Following Hurricane Katrina," at the Hawaii University International Conference on Arts and Humanities.
"Music is very healing to the body," Wilder says. "That's what makes music so wonderful in our everyday lives. It's therapy for us, and it's something everyone can use."
Before Wilder began teaching at Tougaloo, she taught at Hinds for seven years and at Belhaven University for 12 years. Wilder remembers becoming interested in music as a young child.
"I had a neighbor who had a piano at her house, and we would go over and visit, and she taught me a little song--a very simple song on the piano." That was how it all began. Wilder fell in love with music. She pretended her table was a piano until finally her mother offered to find piano lessons.
"Mama never had to make me practice," she says. "I would just go and practice, and I progressed very rapidly. I've been playing ever since."
Wilder received a bachelor's degree in music education from Mississippi State University, a master's of music education from Mississippi University for Women and a doctorate in higher-education administration from the University of Mississippi.
When she is not teaching music theory and piano, she enjoys the mental and emotional rides of Ludwig van Beethoven.
"His music is exciting; it's beautiful. He expanded the expression of music from the end of the Classical period and opened the door for the Romantic period," she says.
"Beethoven had a lot of different moods, and his music portrays those moods... I really enjoy playing his pieces."
Her other favorite genre of music is church music; she identifies herself as a church pianist. She likes to improvise with hymns and loves being able to use her music as a blessing to other people and feels church music is a great way to worship God.
Wilder has two adult children and is a grandmother of eight. She resides in Clinton. She is listed in the 2000 edition of "Who's Who of American Women" and was one of the featured performers in the National Steinway Tour in 2002, which was hosted by Allegrezzo Music Company.
Teaching is one of the highlights of Wilder's life. "I love Tougaloo and I'm thankful for the opportunity to teach here," she says. "I want to encourage my students to be the best as musicians and as people, so that they have a relationship with God and serve their fellow man in their church and their community."