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The M. Paula Survilla Collection of World Instruments

The M. Paula Survilla Collection of World Instruments

Explore the world of music right here on campus!

Map of where our instruments originate


The instruments are meant to be representatives of their types; it was not possible to obtain all authentic examples. So, for example, the didgeridoo is made of synthetic material, not wood--but a wood didgeridoo is cost-prohibitive for our budget, and would also require more care (and incur more fines if damage occurred). The highest quality as appropriate to a lending item was chosen in each case; the collection is meant to inspire interest and we hope it will do just that.

Cultural Appropriation:

Care was taken to research the sacred nature of instruments, and some instruments were not chosen for this collection due to the religious or cultural beliefs of the people groups of whom those instruments are a part. Of course, knowledge and realizations are always increasing, so as our perception of the appropriateness of these instruments changes, you will see that reflected in a change in the collection.

There is also the question of the colonialist-type relationship between ethnographer (usually white and Western) and the culture they study; the field of ethnomusicology is wrestling with these questions itself. We will of course adjust our own collection accordingly! We believe the collection's namesake, Dr. Survilla, would welcome these questions and heartily support prioritizing the vulnerable and the cultures to whom the instruments truly belong.

Curriculum support:

The primary courses this collection supports are IS201 World Music, MU 252, and Music Therapy fieldwork.

About the collection's namesake:

Photo of Paula Survilla, courtesy Eric Wachmann

Photo courtesy Eric Wachmann

Dr. Maria Paula Survilla was many things: a Wartburg music professor for 24 years, a respected ethnomusicologist, the executive director of the Center for Belarusian Studies, a creator and purveyor of whimsy with her knitbaahpurl company, a dancer, a true colleague, and a friend. She was taken from us too soon in April of 2020 due to the development of a sudden, rare condition, but her spirit lives on in all she inspired to love music and the world more mindfully. Paula assisted in developing the original collection in 2013, and we chose to name it after her following her passing in 2020.

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