The spring class of 2020 hasn’t had a traditional conclusion to their studies, but they do have a lot of great stories.
Over the summer months we’ll be profiling some of them.
Degree earned: Bachelors in Music Education with a focus on instrumental studies
Hometown: Braidwood, Ill.
High School: Reed-Custer High School
Transfer from: Joliet Junior College after earning his associate degree in general education with studies in music technology
What are some of your best memories of your time at NIU?
The music building is right next to the lagoon and I would take the time in between classes to walk around the lagoon or walk around the older part of campus where Altgeld Hall and the law building [Swen Parson Hall] are. Those were some of my best memories, especially during the summer, spring time, or early in the fall semester when it was just really nice out. It was like a break from music but it was refreshing for sure.
What’s next for you?
I am teaching some private lessons for clarinet, and saxophone here in my home town and in the school district. I’m also substitute teaching before all the pandemic stuff happened. I’m still applying for full-time band director positions, mainly high schools and middle schools in the state.
What’s one piece of advice or something you learned that you know you’ll be leaning on as you start the next phase of your career?
A phrase that I take with me is “putting energy into the things that I can control.” There’s a lot of things that happen just in life and in the world, whether it is in our jobs or academics–things that we can worry about and ponder and be stressed about that don’t necessarily help us and take away from what we’re really trying to do. I know that’s kind of been the case, especially now with all the pandemic stuff. You should definitely put the energy into job applications. As I work in teaching my students, I’ll be asking myself what could I do better for them?
How was your experience at Northern different than what you expected when you started?
I thought I was going to come in and it was very much going to be like my community college experience. That there was going to be very small group of people that I knew and hung out with. That was very much not the case. When I got to Northern I found a group of friends that were all musicians and educators that I was with, but mostly the whole School of Music that I was a part of. There’s so much diversity. For example, we had a lot of people from China. We had people from South Korea, we had people from Trinidad and different states across the US. Even the people that were brought into master classes were from around the world. That always surprised me. I didn’t think it was going to be like that. I thought it was going to be much more centralized. NIU definitely put me out of my comfort zone as far as exploring things. So much so that I went overseas last summer to study abroad in Salzburg, Austria. I’ll always cherish that experience. NIU pushed the boundaries of diversity and expanded my comfort zone.
What was the experience in Salzburg like?
I did a two week stay to kind of fill a music history requirement. It was a two week stint out there doing a program called the Mozart Project. Salzburg is the hometown of Mozart. I researched the initial developments of the clarinet and mechanical advances as well as looking at Mozart’s clarinet concerto, which he wrote later in his life. He specifically wrote it for an individual virtuoso clarinet player called Anton Stadler who he worked very closely with.
If you could thank someone, or more than one person, that you didn’t get a chance to thank before you left, who would it be and what would you say?
I would definitely thank my private lessons instructor Dr. [Greg] Barrett. He is such an interesting individual, and he’s always so cheery and excited to talk about the clarinet and to hear what students are doing. He really expanded my knowledge of the clarinet and gave me plenty of things to work on. Things that I can bring to my younger students in the classroom. Those are all things that I really latch on to, especially now that I’ve been teaching a lot of my students digitally.
What’s something you’d like to come back to do one more time?
I would have to say that I’d like to walk around the lagoon one more time on a nice, clear, sunny day.
What are some of the things you’re most proud of from your time at Northern?
I think one of the coolest moments I had at Northern was last spring, I was part of the Defiant Requiem. At the end, after the last couple of chords in the requiem, I was in a clarinet solo starting out, and then the choir joins in and everybody starts to leave the stage one at a time. It was a great experience for all of us on the stage and the people in the audience.
If you could give some advice to the high school class of 2020, what would it be?
The idea of putting energy into things you can control should reverberate with them. Don’t take anything for granted. I think I definitely did that at Northern. I took a lot of things for granted, especially when I started to student teach. I grew so close to so many people, and I got so busy teaching every day at high schools and middle schools, that I kind of lost touch with some my friends and faculty to some extent. There wasn’t like the small talk that we would have in between classes or something like that. I definitely missed that. Take those opportunities to go hang out with friends, too. You definitely don’t get those things back once they’re gone.
Keep an eye out for more profiles of the NIU College of Visual and Performing Arts class of 2020.