ASU alumnus shares Fulbright experience


Article by Maya Ramirez '16

Jason Pockrus, Fulbright Scholar, with several woodwind faculty after his recital at the Sichuan Conservatory of Music

Jason Pockrus with several woodwind faculty after his recital at the Sichuan Conservatory of Music.

During his Fulbright Scholarship in China, Adams State University alumnus Jason Pockrus '08 explored the possibilities of transcribing traditional Chinese music for saxophone.

"It was a challenge," Pockrus said. "Saxophonists and traditional instrumental musicians thought it was impossible." However, his persistence paid off and his sceptics later complimented him. "Many saxophonists would often say they plan to include this type of music on their next performance."

Pockrus appreciated the interaction with Chinese students. He had the opportunity to give lessons to several of the students who were all very interested to see the differences between Chinese and American styles of music. "I found that one of the big problems Chinese students face is a lack of resources."

Many web sites, such as YouTube, are inaccessible and not being proficient in English hinders their use of websites. "Many of the students are unable to access recordings and thus have never heard the masters of their instruments," Pockrus added. Often when he would play a recording during the lesson, it was the first time a student had heard the piece performed.

Although his Fulbright Scholarship has ended, Pockrus will spend a year in Beijing as a visiting researcher at the China Conservatory continuing to study performance practices of Chinese traditional music and how to translate those practices to western instruments.

In 2008, Pockrus received a bachelor's degree in music education from Adams State; he earned a master's in instrumental performance at the University of New Mexico; and is a doctoral candidate, ABD, at the University of North Texas.

Pockrus said attending Adams State provided him with many opportunities. "Band, choir, jazz and classical, anything and everything that I was interested in was available and I could participate in at any time."

Participating in all the ensembles and events at Adams State proved useful. While at the University of New Mexico he supported himself "gigging with local Ranchera bands."

One of Pockrus's greatest Adams State mentors was Dr. Tracy Doyle, professor of music. She was his primary lesson teacher as well as instructor for several academic classes. After graduating, she kept in touch. "Without the support of Dr. Doyle and many others over the years, none of this would have been possible," Pockrus said.

According to the website, Fulbright, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the largest U.S. exchange program offering opportunities for students and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and primary and secondary school teaching worldwide. The program currently awards approximately 1,900 grants annually in all fields of study, and operates in more than 140 countries worldwide.