Music Huskie Spotlight

Huskie Spotlight: Khadija Nagi, Jazz Performance, ’25

Khadija Nagi

What did you want to be when you were growing up? When I was growing up I think I knew I wanted to do something with music before I even knew that was possible. I remember when I turned seven my aunt got me a cheap keyboard from a garage sale and I wrote my first song on it called “Spiders from Space.” Though it was silly and short and I had no idea what I was doing. I think that’s when me and my family knew that music would be a big part of my future and alas, here I am pursuing it.

What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study? I am currently a first year jazz performance major and I play the trombone. I decided on studying jazz because I’ve always loved how personal this style of music is and I love all the communities I’ve met through it.

What is your favorite thing about studying and/or playing music at NIU? Without question, my favorite thing about playing music at NIU is the people I get to play with. It’s a beautiful thing when everyone around you is just as passionate as you are. I believe that music is meant to be shared with other people and it seems like everyone around me follows the same ideology.

How have you connected with other students at NIU? It’s so easy to connect with others and make new friends when you find something in common.  There’s always little circles and communities forming everywhere you look. I’ve found new friends through my theory classes, other jazz majors, my ensembles, and other trombone players. There’s so many groups that I find myself fitting right into without even trying.

Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? One of my favorite instructors is definitely Reggie Thomas. He teaches my jazz studies class and is also the head of the jazz department. He makes an effort to make a connection with his students and has been a wonderful and understanding resource for anything I need help with. His clear passion for what he does makes me excited to come into class in the morning and I’m so grateful to have him as a professor.

Why did you choose NIU to study music?  I’m from DeKalb so the obvious reasons for me to have chosen NIU are, of course, the location and the affordability, but above that it’s that I knew the school and the alums that came from it and I knew that I would love to be a part of that group. I knew the faculty would be fit for me to grow and learn. I knew the facilities would cater to what I needed. I knew that the community would be as nice and strong as it is.

Where is your favorite spot on campus or in the community? My favorite spot on campus is definitely the Music Library. I admit that I’m a little biased because I’m also a student worker there, but I genuinely think it’s such a great spot to study or to take a break between classes. It’s also just such a good resource for help with anything I need.

What advice would you give to a student who is applying to colleges? When you’re applying to colleges, don’t be afraid to reach out to talk to faculty or even visit! Especially for music students, getting to know your potential professors, facilities, and ensembles is a great way to feel more sure about your decisions and to help with the fear that always comes with a new chapter.

What do you do to relax or recharge? To relax, I usually play music whether it be practicing something productive or something just for fun. I think I’m lucky that the way I relax is also productive to what I study. Other than that though, I also like to bake in my free time!

Coming to college, what is something that you have had to learn to do differently? The biggest thing was remembering to take care of my body above all else. In high school there’s a set time for me to eat every day but coming to college, I kept forgetting to eat at the beginning and it would just end up hurting me more than anything else.

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