Composer Spotlight – Jodie Blackshaw

Jodie Blackshaw Headshot

Jodie Blackshaw is fanatical about producing quality, meaningful works that offer students the opportunity to create as well as perform. She recently graduated with a PhD in Music Composition from the Australian National University, studying with indigenous composer Dr. Christopher Sainsbury and American wind band icon Professor Craig Kirchhoff. Jodie is also an egalitarian and in late 2018 launched ColourFULL Music ( ColourFULL Music aspires to encourage wind band directors to look beyond the regular repertoire channels and program music by a wider array of composers. This is achieved through a collection of diverse concert programs generously donated by leading conductors in the field. Visit to learn more.

Interview with Jodie

Part 1:
  • Introduction
  • Where Jodie grew up
  • First instrument
  • Early composition training
Part 2:
  • Early career
  • Compositional process/style/voice
  • Educational philosophy
  • Expectations and programming
Part 3:
  • Jodie’s recommended works
  • Made-for-school music
  • Institutional influences on compositions
  • Different approaches
  • “Quality”
Part 4:
  • Systemic/Institutional obstacles
  • Inclusion
  • Advocacy/Mentorship
  • Sexism
  • Female composers list
  • ColourFULL
Part 5:
  • Where to find Jodie’s music
  • Listener question: chamber music
  • Wrap up

Jodie’s Recommended Works

Grade 1-2

Belah Sun Woman 

Salon Morisot (*NEW) 


Grade 2-3

Letter From Sado 


13 Moons 

Jodie’s complete works –>Click HERE for more info

Jodie’s Advocacy

CoulourFULL Music 

  • Project to diversify concert programs
  • Sample programs from well-known conductors


Female Band Composers 

  • Works for Grade 1-4 Band
  • Includes links for listening, scores, and contact info


“Apprenticing Musicians”

“Always put the broccoli on the plate”

Other Recommendations by Jodie

Hubert Hoche 

  • German composer
  • New Ears Wind Orchestra

Thorp Music Publishing 

  • Female-owned company based in Australia

Ivan Trevino

  • Percussionist and composer

Harmony Bridge

  • Chamber music

Author’s Notes

It was truly a joy speaking with Jodie Blackshaw. She is a passionate and thoughtful composer with a keen understanding of how students come to understand music. If you have not programmed her music yet, I can personally attest to the quality and distinct voice she has as a composer. Jodie’s works have a constructivist bent and her lesson plans put students first. 

One point I’d like to highlight from conversation is the issue of “tokenism.” It is not enough to simply program a piece of music because it checks the box of female, person of color, or LGBTQ. Nor do I believe it acceptable to use the phrase (or its many variations) “I don’t care who writes it, I try to pick quality music!” In my opinion, the former doesn’t reach far enough to celebrate diverse people or voices. The latter warrants examination of the gatekeeper’s (teachers, publishers, methods authors, etc) influence on what is considered “quality.” I recommend Jodie’s post about the history of the word:

A perusal through J.W. Pepper’s 2020 Editor’s Choice includes 209 pieces for Concert Band. Less than 10 are written by a woman or person of color. NYC teacher, Jeff Ball, with the help of Christian Michael Folk and Rob Deemer, looked into the NYSSMA Concert Band list and found the following:

  • 33 pieces out of 750 by women or composers of color = 4.4%
    • Of those, 18 by Anne McGinty (2.4%)
    • Of those, Only 10 by African American Composers (1.3%)
    • Of those, 0 by Hispanic/Latinx Composers

It begs the question what we would find in our own music libraries. 

We need to examine the traditions and systems entrenched in our field that leave us with a repertoire of composers out of balance with the population in our classrooms. The rich history of Western band composers has been mostly homogenous but we have a duty to bring our music in alignment with society because Art should be a reflection of it. This is a proactive pursuit!