The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

NW adjunct overcomes obstacles for love of music, piano

By Frances Matteck/editor in-chief

Echo Wilson, a NW music adjunct, has played piano since she was 4 years old and been losing her hearing for even longer.

When she was a baby, she contracted German measles. She awoke with a 106-degree fever that took three hours to bring down.

From that point on, her hearing was significantly diminished. To compensate, she began reading lips.

“My parents did not really know totally until I was four,” Wilson said.

One day, her father happened to speak to her with his hand covering his mouth. Wilson had to move his hand to understand what he was saying. That’s how he knew, she said.

Despite her limitations, she didn’t have any trouble learning piano.

Her mother, a piano teacher, began teaching Wilson around the same time her disability was discovered.

“Mom had a baby grand,” Wilson said.

It was situated in a closet so the sound reverberated in such a way that she could hear it.

Wilson liked the challenge of learning to play despite her hearing loss.

She actually counts her disability as an asset. Unlike other accompanists she’s observed, she doesn’t overpower the soloists she plays with.

“Because of my hearing, it makes me a better accompanist,” she said.

She attended Texas Christian University, where she earned her bachelor’s in piano performance and a master’s in piano pedagogy. She later attended Texas Wesleyan University, where she earned another master’s and a certification in teaching.

NW music adjunct Michael Reed attended TCU with Wilson and studied under the same school of piano playing.

Reed admires her tremendously, he said. He compared the work she’s put in to overcome her personal obstacles to the work Helen Keller put into hers.

“We can overcome so much if we work and discipline ourselves,” he said. “If Echo doesn’t speak, you don’t know she has a disability. What may have been a handicap, she’s turned into a strength.

“She’s a real asset to the music faculty.”

Wilson used to teach on South Campus. While there, Peggy W. Gates became one of her piano students. Gates already taught piano out of her home but was trying to get a degree in music and possibly music education. So she turned to Wilson.

“I had met her through Carla White and found Echo to be kind, creative and intelligent,” Gates said. “She enjoys music, and I knew that was the teacher for me.”

Even though Gates lives close to South Campus, she drives out to NW Campus to continue taking lessons with Wilson.

“I followed her out here,” Gates said.

Wilson uses her skills to accompany local students at state-level music competitions. In the past, she has also taught music at the elementary school level.

She gets involved in the local music community as the vice president of student affiliates for the Fort Worth Music Teachers Association, president of the Fort Worth Piano Teachers Forum and on the board of the Van Cliburn Piano Competition among others.

She considers music an important aspect of elementary education.

“I believe very strongly that music has a lot to do with math and reading,” Wilson said.

She also thinks that if children enjoy something at an early age, then they were meant to do that.

“If they’re drawn to music, that means that was in their soul,” Wilson said.

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