Ben Wahlund, part-time music instructor at College of DuPage, has been named the College-Wide Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Member for the 2018-2019 academic year.
Representing the Arts, Communication and Hospitality Division, Wahlund will receive a $500 award from the College of DuPage Foundation, which annually recognizes outstanding teaching achievement.
Wahlund, a Grammy-nominated music educator, composer and performer, serves as the Director of Percussion at COD and is a full-time instructor at the Northern Illinois University School of Music. His music compositions have won numerous international awards and are performed by professionals around the world. He graduated from NIU with a master’s degree in music theory and composition and a performance certificate in percussion.
The Aurora resident was drawn to COD because of the College’s diverse background.
“I can’t stress enough how powerful I believe the COD experience can be for people,” Wahlund said. “There is such a rich and diverse group of students here. We have those who are looking for a cost-effective model for education, students who simply want to grow and community members who are interested in augmenting their life experience. It’s great to celebrate that diversity.”
He expressed gratitude to the College community for awarding him with this year’s distinction.
“I feel like the community is reciprocating the appreciation I have for our students. It is quite touching to know that the special relationship we have with our students in the Music program is being recognized.”
Wahlund creates lessons and performances that allows for the different levels of experience and knowledge that students have in music. In doing so, he creates an environment that celebrates all students and their skills.
“If you went to a doctor who refused to see you because you weren’t easy to work with, they didn’t do any healing,” he said. “As teachers, we also can’t be picky about who we work with. I teach the people in front of me and that’s a terrific job.”
Wahlund said that he keeps students engaged by simply allowing them to explore and be themselves.
“I just try to help them find a vision, get the right tools, and I get out of the way. My goal is to celebrate curiosity. If an environment does not foster that, we won’t have any fun. I need to let the students bring their personalities to the table before I bring my own.”
Wahlund finds motivation in the opportunity to improve the world by empowering students to create music that makes people feel better.
“What inspires me as a teacher is that I know when music is being made in the right spirit,” he said. “Sometimes things can get challenging for all of us, and activities like music—and creating music—can make being alive more rewarding. Every day, I am working with students to stand for something that is good. We’re in the business of making beautiful things and I don’t wonder at night whether I spent my day doing what’s right.”