Trombonist and music educator Benjamin Yates is Associate Professor of Trombone at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. At UL Lafayette, Dr. Yates teaches lessons; coaches brass chamber music; conducts the trombone and tubaeuph ensembles; and performs with the Louisiana Brass Quintet. Previously, he taught applied low brass at Luther College (IA), Marian University (WI), and Silver Lake College (WI).
As a trombone clinician, Yates presented master classes throughout the U.S., Austria, Brazil, Japan, Dominican Republic, and the United Arab Emirates. Students of Benjamin Yates become successful professional musicians and music educators throughout the United States and the world.
Yates is a member of the Service Organization of Music Professors, which raises funds and collects donated instruments, music, and music equipment for music programs in disadvantaged communities.
Yates performs regularly with Louisiana, Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin area symphonies, bands and chamber ensembles including the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra (LA), Acadian Wind Symphony (LA), and Chorale Acadienne (LA). He has performed with the Grammy Award winning Lost Bayou Ramblers and the Grammy nominated Bonsoir, Catin. As an active soloist, Yates performs and presents master classes and recitals at high schools, colleges, and universities around the United States.
Yates’ teachers include David Gier, Jonathan Allen, Elliot Chasanov, Michael Smith, Bard Mackey, and Roger Rocco.
Dr. Yates is a M&W Custom Trombones artist and a MADPipe trombone mouthpiece and lead pipe system artist.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
In my personal, family, and professional life I am passionate and take actions on diversity, equity, and inclusion. That passion drives me into social and political scenes which require me to challenge the assumptions surrounding higher education. Before drawing on specific ideas or experiences, I want to share how important it is to support one's passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion with wisdom. Wisdom comes from continually being influenced and informed by a diverse group of people in the workplace, community, and greater world. Wisdom comes from seeking information. Wisdom comes from remaining curious and open-minded to contextualizing all experiences. As a result, with wisdom, I work toward both my individual and professional goals as they pertain to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
I understand that my trajectory and success are influenced by my race and by the opportunities available to me because of these advantages. That makes thinking, speaking, and writing about equity difficult. This realization and awareness about myself and my situation was not immediate. I am still learning. As a person, faculty member and student mentor, I seek opportunities to grow.
Working to develop equity in the studio is an important goal for me. It begins with my awareness of the overall diversity and spectrum of individual differences in the studio setting. Not all students come from the same starting place. Some students have family or other financial assistance, private lessons, and other instrumental advantages for entrance to the collegiate degree program. Students facing barriers in these areas should not be considered less. My understanding of what it means to find a place of equity in the studio will continue to change and evolve.
I provide a studio community where each person can achieve and expand knowledge, regardless of their social, racial, or economic background. I provide the necessary resources and support to welcome students and meet all individuals where they are. Sometimes this means providing mouthpiece samples, so students do not need to purchase multiple mouthpieces just to find one that works for them. I also keep a library with extra music originals so students can use those when not able to purchase music quickly. I also keep a large assortment of mutes students can use for school and professional commitments. As I continue to evolve in my understanding and intentions, I will continue to seek the formal and informal training that is required to further equity and inclusion in the studio, creating an equitable learning space that informs my teaching, performance, and recruiting.
Finally, for diversity, equity, and inclusion to really be a point of consideration at the institutional level, faculty cannot just invite people to the table. We must ensure the table is ready for all. Systems must be in place for all students, staff, faculty, and members of the community to be supported and able to find success. In my current position, the university has created programs specifically for first generation students to learn how to navigate academic life in college. Additional systems that provide donated professional clothes to students at no cost for interviews and performances.
All experiences, lack of experiences, and different versions of experience need to be taken into careful account. I am passionate to see what the tables look like as we move forward together.