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I am Tammy Evans Yonce, and This is How I Work

Today, I am inviting Dr. Tammy Evans Yonce. Dr. Yonce, an Atlanta native, is a flutist, collaborative musician, writer, and professor. She is a dedicated new music performer who is particularly interested in the commissioning and teaching of new music. Dr. Yonce has commissioned over a dozen works involving flute, many with a specific focus on creating new music for the Glissando Headjoint. Dr. Yonce is Assistant Professor of Music at South Dakota State University, where she teaches applied flute, woodwind pedagogy, and courses in musicology. She recently designed and taught an interdisciplinary Honors colloquium, which explored music in connection with neurology, therapy, global studies, technology, politics, and the arts. A first-prize winner of the Atlanta Flute Club Young Artist Competition, she holds degrees in flute performance from Kennesaw State University (BM), Indiana University (MM), and the University of Georgia (DMA). Dr. Yonce can be found on Twitter @TammyEvansYonce and at her website:

Current Job
: Assistant Professor of Music, South Dakota State University
Current Location: Brookings, SD
Current mobile device: iPhone 8, iPad for scores
Current computer: MacBook Air

Can you briefly explain your current situation and research to us?
I’m an assistant professor of music. My teaching load consists of applied flute lessons, world music, early music history, woodwind pedagogy, music appreciation, an honors colloquium on interdisciplinary topics in music, and a continuing education course for music teachers. My research is better described as “creative activity,” which consists of me performing on campus and around the world. I primarily focus on the performance of new music and often work with composers on the commissioning of new music for flute. I also specialize in the Glissando Headjoint, which is a relatively new piece of equipment that allow for unusual, unexpected sounds on flute. Secondarily, I write on the topic of flute pedagogy.

What tools, apps and software are essential to your workflow?
My flutes, tuner and metronome apps, Skype for meeting with people who are not local.

What does your workspace setup look like?
I have an office at the university where I teach, do admin work, and practice. I often work at the local coffee shop downtown for a change in my environment. When I’m performing, these events happen at different locations around the country and world. I’m currently working on an album, so my workplace also includes the Performing Arts Center here on campus where the recording is being done.

What is your best advice for productive academic work?
By setting lots of small goals that lead to the larger ones. I set 6-month goals, which helps me manage my day-to-day decisions. I’ve recently established longer-term goals and make sure that everything I do leads to those bigger goals. I feel like I’m still refining those long term goals.

How do you keep an overview of projects and tasks?

I use a white board in my office to keep a quick overview of a performance calendar. I also list big projects there but keep track of the smaller steps involved in those projects on separate lists. I also list potential collaborators there. The white board is just a quick at-a-glance reminder of what I have going on.

Besides phone and computer, do you use other technological tools in work and daily life?
I use a pedal and iPad to display my music scores. I also use tuners and metronomes, which are now apps on my phone. I also use MailChimp to manage my newsletter. My website ( provides a centrally-located description of my projects, which allows me to promote the music of the composers I work with and advertise performances of that music.

Which skill makes you stand out as an academic?
The number of high-quality projects I’ve been able to produce in the past few years. I work fairly efficiently, even though there is definitely room to refine that skill. I’m also good at connecting music to other seemingly-unrelated subjects.

What do you listen to when you work?
Nothing. As a musician, I cannot concentrate on other tasks if I’m listening to music.

What are you currently reading? How do you find time for reading?

I just finished a book about Theodore Roosevelt’s time in the Dakota Territory, working as a ranch owner. I found it interesting because I live in that general area of the country. I’m in the middle of a book called The Israelis: Ordinary People in an Extraordinary Land because I recently returned from a fellowship to Israel. I tend to read a few books at a time and generally focus on non-fiction. In terms of finding time, I set a reading goal each year and am fairly consistent about reading a little every day. This year I will read at least 35 books.

Are you more of an introvert or extrovert? How does this influence your working habits?

Introvert for sure. It works out really well when I need to practice because that is essentially a solitary activity. I do a lot of networking and communication online because I am geographically isolated; as an introvert, this also works well. I’m still able to make the fantastic connections but can do so on my own time instead of as a forced social interaction.

What’s your sleep routine like?

I have very young twins, so my sleep schedule leaves much to be desired. On the days I teach early classes I probably get 6 hours of sleep at the most, with a couple of wake ups during the night. When I have a later class, I probably get 7 hours. I sleep as much as I can on the weekends. I look forward to healthier sleep as the babies grow a bit.

What’s your work routine like?

Every day is different, which I enjoy. It keeps me energized. My teaching is generally done in the morning most days. Admin and service work seem to be crammed in wherever they fit. My practice schedule is somewhat different and depends on what performances I have scheduled. I prioritize those pieces of music usually by performance date but sometimes by difficulty if it’s a piece that I know will take longer than usual to learn. On a macro level, I usually give a recital tour in the fall and attend a variety of conferences in the spring and summer. Most of the summer is spent planning the next academic year in terms of performances and big projects. I also get some writing done in the summer.

What’s the best advice you ever received?
Two things come to mind. One was to teach whatever classes I had the opportunity to teach as an adjunct, even if they didn’t line up exactly with what I had learned or taught before. This advice helped me develop the skills required to do my current full time job. (I have a DMA [Doctor of Musical Arts] in flute performance, but I teach much more than this.) The second piece of advice was to think big. Really, truly big. Plan projects on a large scale. Broaden your impact and scope.

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