Wanda Degen

Instructor of Music, Interlochen College of Creative Arts

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 and Canada. Her appearances in the U.S. include Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and 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 including: 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 East Lansing, MI. In early 2013, Wanda began a musical partnership with Kay Rinker O'Neil who adds guitar, flute and voice to Wanda's dulcimers, autoharps and vocals. The duo is called “The Catbird Seat” and is known for their sweet harmonies and lively blending of ancient tunes and contemporary songs drawn from a repertoire of Celtic, Folk, Great Lakes and early Pop music.

A dedicated teacher, Wanda has taught workshops at Swallow Hill School of Folk Music (Denver, CO), Old Town School of Folk Music (Chicago, IL), Dulcimer Days II (Duluth, MN) and Mountain Laurel Autoharp Gathering (Newport, PA). She has taught private lessons on autoharp, mountain dulcimer and 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.

Professional highlights include:

  • Musician performing in national and state parks and campgrounds in northern Michigan including Isle Royale as a part of “Michigan's Great Outdoors Culture Tour”
  • Teaching artist guiding teachers in Michigan to incorporate the performing arts into the Early Childhood curriculum through Wolf Trap Institute’s Early Learning Through the Arts in Vienna, Virginia
  • Teaching Artist with the Michigan Art Project in the Lansing, Michigan School District which included training and working closely with the Lincoln Center Institute of New York to create inquiry-based activities preparing students to more deeply experience art, music and dance.
  • Served as the Performance Coordinator for the East Lansing Art Festival for 25 years
  • Winner of the Great Lakes Regional Mountain Music Autoharp Competition at the Flint, Michigan Bluegrass Festival
  • Finalist at the Walnut Valley Festival International Autoharp Contest in Winfield, Kansas