The Doctor Is In

Katherine Goins Frewen ’01, DMA

In West Hartford. Connecticut, Katherine Goins Frewen ’01 has taken her 10 years of post-graduate musical education and college-level teaching experience into a public school serving city-living teenagers.

“Katie” earned a doctor of musical arts (music education) at the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s in music performance (piano) at the University of Ohio. She traces her journey to music teaching to the early 1990s, when she heard the touring choir of Eastern Mennonite High School (EMHS), directed by Jay Hartzler, perform at Zion Mennonite Church in Broadway, 10 miles north of EMU.

Katie was enrolled in public school. “I turned to my mom and said, ‘I want to go there,’” Frewen recalls. Her family was a newcomer to the Mennonite tradition. From singing at EMHS, Frewen progressed to organ, piano, and voice instruction at EMU. She became the piano rehearsal accompanist for the Shenandoah Valley Children’s Choir and sang with the Chamber Singers.

In 2009, three years after completing her doctorate, Katie married Thomas Frewen, an Irish man she met while teaching at The New School for Music Study, a piano preparatory program in Princeton, New Jersey. Thomas was doing post-doctoral research in chemical engineering at Princeton University. She liked the fact that Thomas was an observant Catholic. She has joined him in attending mass regularly in West Hartford. She stresses that she is not abandoning her Mennonite upbringing, but enlarging on it.

Katie says she loves her work—and based on a visit by Crossroads staff to her classroom of beginning music students—she is an inspiring teacher. Katie says she draws upon the model provided by Kenneth J. Nafziger and other professors of visualizing the final product one wishes to shape and then setting up sequential steps to get students to arrive at the desired completion point. “Even masterful musicians need training to become excellent teachers,” she says. “You have to know how to break down what you are trying to achieve, how to start at the beginning, and how to lead your students through the process, putting it all together at the end. Ken showed me how you can do that.”

Katie did not visualize herself in a middle school classroom when she was performing difficult piano pieces as a graduate student, but she has learned that it pays to be multi-talented when one is trying to earn a living through music. “Earning a living as a concert pianist is incredibly difficult. The performing musicians I know supplement their income by teaching privately and performing or accompanying in lots of settings—churches, schools, marriages, funerals, entertainment spots. They have to be flexible, and they have to be willing to work nights, and weekends, and to travel to gigs. I am really happy to be in a situation [as a salaried schoolteacher] where I have regular hours, appropriate compensation, supportive administrators, and nice colleagues.” Katie and Thomas are expecting their first child in March 2011, another reason for Katie to be pleased with having a sane work situation this year.

Katie’s two siblings are also EMU alumni, with terminal degrees. Matthew Goins ’00 is an anesthesiologist at one of Harvard’s teaching hospitals, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. And Joanna Goins Myers ’04 earned a law degree at George Washington University and is a tax attorney at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP in Washington DC.

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