Bio Programs Schedule Lessons CD Gallery Links Presskit Mailing List contact Wanda Degen Home
  Wanda Degen - Biography
  Folk Music Specialist, Performer, Educator, Arts Organizer

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


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



RESUME - Miss Wanda, Music Teacher

Wanda Degen
500 N Magnolia Ave
Lansing, MI 48912
Telephone: (517) 337-2264
E-Mail: Web site:

Career Objective:

To obtain a position as a music teacher at the preschool or elementary school level.

1971 - 1972 Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan
Justin Morrill College, Liberal Arts
1986 - 1989 Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan
Music Education major
Employment History:
1978 -

Self-employed, Lansing, Michigan

Folk Musician

Performing as a soloist presenting assemblies at elementary schools around the state and giving family concerts at festivals, libraries and museums. Also performing in various groups: the trio Lady of the Lake; The Troublesome Lasses; and as a duo with Kitty Donohoe, Dan Giacobassi or Pete Wittig. As of 2013, partnering with Kay Rinker-O'Neil as The Catbird Seat.

1978 -
Elderly Instruments, Lansing, Michigan
Private lesson instructor of autoharp, hammered & mountain dulcimers.
1980 -
Music teacher at the Okemos Nursery School, Okemos and Abbott Nursery School, East Lansing.
1987 - 2011

East Lansing Art Festival, East Lansing, Michigan

Performance Coordinator

Responsible for two stages for two days of community-oriented entertainment.

1989 - 2008

Michigan Wolf Trap Teaching Artist
associated with the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts, Vienna, VA

Leading one week and seven week residencies in preschools and kindergartens, working with both teachers and children at incorporating the performing arts into the classroom; conducting workshops for teachers around the state.

1998 - 2003 Performer - Michigan's Great Outdoors Culture Tour, in northern Michigan & the Upper Peninsula, sponsored by the Michigan Humanities Council and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.
1994 - 1999

Michigan Early Elementary Center/Michigan Early Childhood Center, Lansing, Michigan

Music Teacher

Twice weekly music sessions working with 18 month old to 5th grade students. 1st to 3rd graders received hands-on mountain dulcimer lessons once a week. 4th and 5th graders received recorder instruction as well as singing.