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Why KU

Janelle Decker"I am extremely grateful to all of my professors and friends at Kutztown University who helped make my time there such an invaluable experience. Each and every one of them helped prepare me to take on the world not only as a music educator, but as a performing musician as well. Kutztown University has a very unique music program in that it offers students endless opportunities because it is a collaborative department. Therefore, I was able to participate in the marching band, concert band, wind ensemble, orchestra, jazz 1, chamber ensemble, and percussion ensemble in a majority of my semesters at KU. Participating in all of these ensembles and taking my core music classes exposed me to the diverse teaching styles of our professors and helped me gain a wide range of skills that I needed and have been using in my career as a music educator and a director of various instrumental ensembles. The professors at KU also do a tremendous part in aiding students in gaining experiences outside of the University. Through my professors, I was granted several performing/touring opportunities (both domestic and international), two conducting internships, and two student teaching placements that helped build my resume and make it stand out. I am confident in saying that my education and experiences at Kutztown University helped me land my first full-time teaching job only two short months after I graduated."

Janelle Decker
Orchestra Director and Assistant Band Director
North Pocono High School
B.S. in Music Education '15

Matt Haelig"I couldn't be more thankful and feel more fortunate when I reflect on my time as a student at Kutztown University. From the moment I arrived, I was greeted with a friendly, supportive, and collaborative music department where faculty and upperclassmen alike were sincerely invested in my success as a musician. Within the first week of class, I was approached several times by senior musicians who wanted to practice with me to ensure that I'd develop good practice habits and that I'd always be prepared for ensembles. Dr. Cadieux and Dr. Ogletree taught classes with a lifetime warranty, encouraging all of their students that they would be willing to answer and help in anyway they could upon graduating; something I have graciously taken advantage of since becoming a music educator. I haven't had a class of theirs' in almost five years.

I came to find that I had an enormous amount of playing, performing, and gigging opportunities while a student at KU. Dr. Jeremy Justeson t made sure that, even though I was studying to be a music teacher, I was using my time to work towards playing at the level of a gigging, professional musician. You can only teach as well as you play. I found myself constantly performing every semester in jazz ensemble, jazz combos, saxophone quartets, Marching Band, Wind Ensemble, University Orchestra, and Trombone choir. Performing on both brass and woodwind instruments has given me an extreme advantage in applying for instrumental music jobs, and I owe a lot of that to the performing opportunities at KU.

Kutztown University is the only music school in Berks County, and as a result, I was able to find plentiful music activities beyond the classroom to boost my resume and my aptitude as a musician and conductor. Under the devout tutelage of Professor Neuenschwander, I learned how to efficiently and effectively run a music rehearsal His passion and dedication to his art served as the biggest motivator in my time at KU. Additionally, he and the University have set up several agreements with area orchestras, community bands, and school districts that provide great opportunities to conduct, teach, and rehearse beyond campus limits.

Kutztown University proved to me that being a music teacher was right for me, and I am forever grateful that I enjoy my job everyday as a result."

Matt Haelig
Instrumental Music Teacher
Allentown School District
B.S. in Music Education '13

Matt Tanzos Photo"The experiences that I was able to be a part of while a student within the Kutztown University Department of Music were second to none. There are not many schools in the country in which a student can travel and perform on 3 different continents in 4 years as a member of a renowned Percussion Ensemble Program, but that is exactly the kind of experience that Kutztown offered me. Additionally, the music faculty and student body are a very close-knit group, which helps to provide students with an extremely personable, friendly, and encouraging environment in which to get their education."

Matthew Tanzos

Director of Bands
Whitehall High School
B.S. in Music Education '08

Marquis Wall Photo"Not only has Kutztown University's music program guided me through the daunting high school to college transition, it has also helped me with the even more challenging college to career transition. The words of Dr. Willis Rapp, Dr. Frank Kumor, and Dr. Kevin Kjos continue to stick with me to this very day. From Kutztown's Jazz 1 program to Broadway national/international tours, from Broadway shows all the way to an NBC national broadcast, Dr. Kevin Kjos' words continue to heavily influence my on-stage and off-stage conscience.

However, the greatest lesson I learned in Kutztown's music program was not about musical technique or theory, but rather the profound importance of work ethic and a positive attitude. More frequently than I can remember, I've received job offers based on more than just my musical talents. In a competitive city like New York, getting work often comes down to off-stage attitude and ability to work well with others. Had it not been for the principles instilled in me by Dr. Kevin Kjos, it would likely be years before I learned these important life lessons.

Kutztown University has reinforced my love and respect for music in more ways than I can imagine. And for this, I will be forever grateful."

Marquis Wall

Rent, Spring Awakenings, on Broadway
Performed on Memphis, Lysistrata Jones, Godspell, on NBC Television, Smash

Photo of Dustin Shirk

"The education I received while attending Kutztown University is invaluable. Currently in my 7th year of teaching music I can say with certainty that the values I learned in combination with the musical journey I experienced, was top notch.

When I arrived to Kutztown University in 1998 to begin my freshmen year, the option of majoring in Music Education was not available. Because of the endless hours of hard work and dedication of Willis Rapp, Chair of the Music Department, not only does Kutztown University offer Music Education, it has quickly become one of the most renowned programs in the state.

Fall of 1998 included more than just the beginning of my college journey. It was also when Dr. Kevin Kjos, Kutztown University Jazz and Trumpet Instructor, began his. This was the beginning of a monumental shift for the program. Since then, the Jazz Ensemble has recorded numerous albums, toured all over the country, performed with professional Jazz artists and gained international acknowledgment.

This Jazz Ensemble goes beyond performing and recording the best charts there are, it is home to some of the sweetest, hardworking and intelligent people I know. The camaraderie among this group is not only felt by the members, but clear to anyone who comes in contact with them. I feel that Dr. Kevin Kjos is largely responsible for this friendship. If ever a friend or student of Dr. Kevin Kjos, you have heard or will become aware of his biggest and most important philosophy - "ALWAYS think about the other guy first." It is because of this there is no worry of ego or ignorance; all are able and all are welcome. This isn't bound to those current students, it extends to all alumni as well. I feel welcome and appreciated every time I visit despite how long I may have been away.

At Kutztown University, you are guaranteed to receive exceptional education, pedagogy, musicianship and most importantly outstanding values as both a person and musician. As a graduate of Kutztown University, I felt confident entering my career, proud of the person I became and appreciative of the family and friends I had gained."

Dustin Shirk '05

Director of Bands
Kutztown Area High School

Marybeth Kern"As a working musician, I contribute a large part of my success to the variety of opportunities and experiences Kutztown University provides. By the time I earned my degree, I felt well rounded and musically prepared; comfortable and confident enough to take advantage of every prospect and challenge that presented itself to me. As a woodwind instrumentalist, I participated in a plethora of ensembles, some of which included playing the alto saxophone in Jazz Band, clarinet in Orchestra and flute in Wind Ensemble. The Jazz Studies Program offered by Kutztown University is unparalleled. Through this program I acquired an invaluable amount of professional recording, performing and touring experience. The department itself feels tightknit, like a family yet  large enough to be in a healthy, competitive atmosphere. I'm so excited to watch this program grow and expand, keeping pace with the ever-changing and evolving music industry. My years in Kutztown University's Music Department have proved to be some of the most formative and exceptional years of my early professional music career, and for this I will ever sing their praises!"

Marybeth Kern '08

Andrew Smouse"The music education program at Kutztown University is truly one of the best-kept secrets in Pennsylvania, providing me with a strong musical foundation.  As an aspiring educator, I had the opportunity to get first hand experience and immediate feedback from renowned music educators. As a percussionist, I had the opportunity to travel the world and perform at a professional level while still a student at KU. The faculty of the music department truly tailor the program for each individual student. They helped me to improve my weaknesses and allowing my strengths to flourish to new heights. Even today, many of my former professors freely offer their help and suggestions, continuing my growth as a musician and educator years after graduation. I credit my success as a musician, educator, and professional to the program and faculty in the KU music department."

Andrew Smouse '09

Michael Scales"One of the aspects of getting my degree at Kutztown that has proven to be invaluable was even though it is a close-knit department where everyone is recognized as an individual, there is also an incredible array of opportunities to perform and expand as a musician. The faculty is extremely driven in helping to mold not just great musicians and educators, but more importantly people of great character, and my experiences at Kutztown have been nothing but beneficial in my journey as a pianist."

After finishing his degree at Kutztown University where he studied under the incredible Dr. Maria Asteriadou, Michael went on to complete a Master of Music degree in Piano Performance at James Madison University. Since moving to New York City in 2010, he has gone on to become music director of New York Theatre Ballet, where he performs regularly with the company in New York and around the country. Michael has also been invited to play at Kaatsbaan International Dance Center's Extreme Ballet program, as well as at the Julliard Dance Division.

Michael Scales '07

Bachelor of Arts, Piano Performance
Music Director - New York Theatre Ballet

Trevor Davis"The Kutztown University Music Department is an excellent choice for any student interested in music. After going on to bigger schools for graduate school I realized how many more playing and performing opportunities there were available at Kutztown, particularly for students interested in more than one style of music or more than one instrument. The faculty at Kutztown are supportive and engaging. The improvements in the quality of the students I witness when I return for visits is evident of a music program moving in the right direction."

Trevor Davis, '06
Bachelor of Arts, Saxophone and Clarinet
Assistant Professor of Music - Louisiana Tech University

Michael Evangelista"Getting a degree in music from Kutztown University provided me with serious know-how for becoming a successful musician. The discipline required to maintain performance-worthy abilities, and the humility needed to create fruitful working environments were among many of the crucial traits instilled in me through the teachings of the music department. I express my deepest gratitude toward the hard working faculty and student body, and I owe my success as a professional musician to them."

Michael Evangelista, '10
Bachelor of Arts, Bass