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Wanda Degen

Wanda Degen is a professional folk musician with over 35 years experience, educating and entertaining audiences all over her home state of Michigan and as far away as Ireland, Norway, & Canada. Her appearances in the U.S. include Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia & Wisconsin. She was born and raised in the small town of Montague, Michigan, nestled along the shores of Lake Michigan, and moved to East Lansing to attend Michigan State University as a young woman. She has called the Lansing area home ever since.

Wanda has performed in several "all-girl" groups over the years: Wanda & the Whippets, Lady of the Lake and The Troublesome Lasses. In the fall of 2013, Lady of the Lake celebrated their 30th anniversary with a reunion concert at the Ten Pound Fiddle Concert Series.

In early 2013, Wanda began a musical partnership with Kay Rinker O'Neil who adds guitar, flute & voice to Wanda's dulcimers, autoharps & vocals. The duo is called The Catbird Seat and is known for their sweet harmonies and lively blending of ancient tunes & contemporary songs drawn from a repertoire of Celtic, Folk, Great Lakes, & early Pop music.

"Wanda Degen is a legend around these parts." - MSU's Progressive Torch & Twang radio show, WDBM

A dedicated teacher, Wanda has taught workshops at Swallow Hill School of Folk Music (Denver), Old Town School of Folk Music (Chicago), Dulcimer Days II (Duluth) and Mountain Laurel Autoharp Gathering (Newport, PA). She has taught private lessons on autoharp, mountain dulcimer, & hammered dulcimer at the internationally renowned music store, Elderly Instruments, in Lansing since 1978. Most summers find Wanda teaching workshops at many of Michigan's traditional music festivals, including: Hiawatha Music Festival in Marquette; Midland Folk Festival in Midland; the Original Dulcimer Players Club Funfest in Evart; and the Wheatland Music Festival in Remus.

"Your workshop was the icing on the cake!" - Participant, Mountain Laurel Autoharp Gathering

Professional Highlights 

Musician performing in national and state parks and campgrounds in northern Michigan including Isle Royale. ‐ Michigan's Great Outdoors Culture Tour 

Teaching Artist guiding teachers in Michigan at incorporating the performing arts into the Early Childhood curriculum. ‐ Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts, Vienna, Virginia 

Local Teaching Artist with the Michigan Art Project. Training and working closely with the Lincoln Center Institute of New York to create inquiry‐based activities preparing students to more deeply experience a work of art, music and dance. Lansing School District, Lansing, Michigan 

Performance Coordinator of the East Lansing Art Festival for 25 years. ‐ East Lansing, Michigan 

Winner of the Great Lakes Regional Mountain Music Autoharp Competition at the Flint Bluegrass Festival. ‐ Flint, Michigan 

Finalist at the Walnut Valley Festival International Autoharp Contest. - Winfield, Kansas 

Sample Lesson Plan

The Great Lakes State ‐ Sing it, Play it, Write it!

Social Studies/History, Music, Language; Grades 1st ‐ 3rd 

Learn to sing & play traditional Great Lakes songs from the lumbering & sailing eras with the mountain dulcimer ‐ an easy 3‐stringed instrument provided by the instructor. Explore songwriting with the class & then, with a partner, play & sing a new Great Lakes story. 

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