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Music at EMU

Alumni Voices

Sarah SutterSarah 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 HolsappleCaitlin 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

EMU music alumnus Phillip MartinAt 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.

EMU music alumna Meg Smeltzer MillerI’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.

Eastern Mennonite University music graduate Kelley Schroder

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.

Eastern Mennonite University music graduate Heidi Bauman

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.

Eastern Mennonite University music graduate Andrew Claassen

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.

Eastern Mennonite University music graduate Sam Kauffman

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.

Eastern Mennonite University music graduate Steve Kniss

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 life.
Stephen Kniss is a 2011 vocal performance graduate from Chicago, Ill. Stephen is currently working as promotions producer at TV3 in Winchester, Va.

EMU vocal performance music graduate Benjamin Bergey

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.

EMU music education graduate Kara Glick Tann

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.

EMU music and violin performance graduate Bebhinn Egger

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.

Eastern Mennonite University music graduate Jonathan Keener

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.

Eastern Mennonite University music graduate Nathan Bontrager

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.

Eastern Mennonite University music graduate Bethany Blouse

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.

Eastern Mennonite University music graduate Mike Dezort

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.