Sarah Sutter, 2016 music and biology graduate
“The combination of being a double major and not declaring my music major until the end of my sophomore year made scheduling difficult, but the music faculty made it a priority to help me meet my requirements in four years. They moved classes around for me, allowed me to substitute equivalent courses, and were encouraging and patient throughout the whole process.
I enjoyed getting to sing solos in Handel’s Messiah and Bernstein’s Mass (were performed as part of the EMU’s Gala concerts), taking voice lessons, and being part of Chamber Singers and Emulate."
Caitlin Holsapple, 2016 music interdisciplinary studies graduate
“I’ve also enjoyed the variety of music classes I’ve taken during my four years, such as Conducting, Listening to Film and Music Technology. I appreciate being exposed to the spectrum in which music can be applied—because there really is more to music than just history and theory.
I love the close relationships that I have with my music professors! It’s awesome to know that they have my back and want me to succeed, and that they care about me on a greater level than just me as a student. It might seem kind of cheesy, but I definitely consider some of my professors to be friends as well as teachers."
Other music alumni
At EMU I appreciated the deep relationships I built with my music professors. They see you
not only as a musician but as a person with varying interests. Highlights for me included
teaching in the Preparatory Music Program and getting the opportunity to accompany
a wide range of vocalists and instrumentalists.
Phillip Martin is a 2013 piano performance major from Mount Joy, Pennsylvania. He is currently touring with Ted Swartz’s newest play “Listening for Grace”, as the pianist, and taking piano lessons with Rita Sloan at the University of Maryland.
I’m thankful for the close-knit nature of the EMU music department, which allowed me to form friendships with many students and benefit
from the direct support and guidance of each professor. I also appreciated the diverse
performing opportunities I experienced, from solo and chamber settings to musicals,
worship services, and events in the community.
Meg Smeltzer Miller is a 2013 violin performance major from Harrisonburg, Virginia. She is currently teaching violin lessons through the EMU Preparatory Music Program, and well as working part-time at Friendly City Food Co-op.
Over my four years at EMU I was given the opportunity to grow as a musician, a teacher, and a leader. The music department became my community very quickly as they were intentional about providing opportunities for department gatherings in Washington, D.C. and at various faculty homes. My professors made my studies meaningful in the way that they truly invested in me as a student. They saw my needs and worked with me to help me grow as a musician and future educator. Most importantly, however, are the relationships that formed between myself and my peers and the faculty. I am grateful for the time each faculty member invested in me and I always look forward to sharing those experiences with others.
Kelley Schroder is a 2013 music education graduate from Leesburg, Va. She is currently a General Music Teacher at Fairfax Villa Elementary School in Fairfax County, Va.
I’m so thankful for the time I’ve had at EMU and am especially grateful for the ways in which my experiences in music have helped
me to grow. I’ve enjoyed unique opportunities that I might not have been able to have
at a larger school, such as performing an aria with the EMU orchestra and helping to teach violin at a local school. The relationships I’ve built
with my music professors has been integral to my time, as our one-on-one interactions
have guided me and helped shape me into the musician I’ve become.
Heidi Bauman is a 2012 music education graduate from Sassamansville, Pa. She is currently teaching choir and musical theatre at Stonewall Jackson High School and North Fork Middle School in Shenandoah County, Va.
During my time at EMU I became a much better musician. In my years here I saw more growth and development
than in the ten previous years combined. The faculty has a great reservoir of knowledge
and a great passion for their craft that is readily evident.
Andrew Claassen is a 2012 interdisciplinary studies graduate with concentrations in guitar performance and recording technology. Andrew is currently working at Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center.
At EMU I’ve had many opportunities to perform and to have my compositions performed, and
I’ve built strong personal and professional relationships with some of the music faculty.
The Music Interdisciplinary Studies program worked out very well for me. Its versatility
allowed me to transfer to EMU as a junior and still complete a double major in music and computer science on time.
Sam Kauffman is a 2012 interdisciplinary studies graduate with concentrations in composition and computer science. He is currently a programmer at Vista Share, LLC in Harrisonburg, Va.
The EMU Music Department offers a great experience to young and upcoming musicians. The faculty
are unmatched in their quality and there is a great amount of freedom for students
to experiment with and discover new forms of music and performance. My vocal performance
major helped to shape me into the musician I am today. It has increased my appreciation
of all types of music and will be something that I take with me for the rest of my
Stephen Kniss is a 2011 vocal performance graduate from Chicago, Ill. Stephen is currently working as promotions producer at TV3 in Winchester, Va.
Music at EMU is filled with joy, growth, and opportunities. It’s a small school, and you can be
as involved as you like. The faculty are outstanding and dedicated to their students, mentoring them inside and outside of the classroom. I enjoyed it all, including
the extra things I was able to do related to conducting – such as independent studies
and assisting in conducting the community orchestra.
Benjamin Bergey is a 2011 vocal performance graduate from Harrisonburg, Va. Ben is pursuing his masters in music for orchestral conducting at JMU and teaching strings part-time at EMHS in Harrisonburg, Va.
My time at EMU was filled with many opportunities to develop as a musician and as a leader. I especially
appreciate the chance to teach private lessons and groups in the preparatory program,
as well as other leadership opportunities in conducting classes and small string ensembles.
I enjoyed performing, solo and in groups, from orchestra to smaller chamber groups
and even being part of other music student’s projects! EMU was a wonderful experience!
Kara is a 2008 music education graduate. She teaches strings and general music at Northwood Academy Charter School in Philadelphia, Pa.
Music at EMU has taught me the importance of connecting with others. To me, this is one of the
most valuable things to be learned in life. We’re not on this journey alone, but we
must find concrete ways in which to react to others. Music, as they say, is the universal
language. I have grown so much as a violinist.
Bebhinn is a 2009 music and violin performance graduate. She is a Suzuki violin teacher in Front Royal, Va. She also directs the Front Royal Youth Orchestra.
Though the music program is small, I had many opportunities to perform and accompany and to not feel lost in a crowd of too many other pianists. I had great relationships
with my professors and they’ve given me much individual attention in my studies. I
will miss EMU and the friends that I’ve made here!
Jonathan Keener is a 2007 piano performance graduate and EMU honors student from Lancaster, Pa. Jonathan is currently working at Christian Performing Artists’ Fellowship in Winona Lake, Ind.
My EMU experience could be described in so many ways, both as a music major and a student
at large. Most beneficial for me was the freedom to explore a wide variety of musical pathways, both within the required curriculum
and beyond. Not only have I surprised myself by looking towards graduate school, but I have
learned to play upright bass and jazz piano, to conduct, compose my own music, and
many other things. I don’t think too many graduates of other schools get to finish
with such an affirming experience of both professionalism and eclecticism.
Nathan Bontrager is a 2007 music graduate with concentrations in cello performance and music education. Nathan has a master’s degree in modern cello from the University of Maryland. He is completing his second master’s degree in early music at Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen, Germany.
The performances I was able to participate in made a huge difference in my life, including
touring with Chambers, singing The Messiah, being part of The Music Man, three opera
scenes classes, and lots of noon recitals. All of these opportunities helped me grow and mature as a musician.
Bethany Blouse, a music education major from Stuarts Draft, Va., is currently the Choral Director at Stuarts Draft High School. She is also Ministry Director at Blue Ridge Church of Christ in Fishersville, Va.
The beautiful campus and friendly people drew me to EMU. I love music, and hope to be performing somewhere or teaching on the college level
when I graduate. Classes here are challenging, but the professors are very helpful
and understanding. Most of my music classes only have five to 10 people in them and
that means a lot of one on one time with the prof.
Michael Dezort, is a vocal performance graduate from Normalville, Pa. He is currently living in New York City working in the musical theater industry. Michael is a member of the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players.