Graduates of the Music Program pursue successful careers as professional performers, college and university faculty, public school music teachers, private studio instructors and in allied fields within the music industry. They are pursuing graduate studies at The Juilliard School, Indiana University–Bloomington, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Iowa State University, the Eastman School of Music and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
Gary Ruschman (BM Performance - Voice, 1997) is an ASCAP award-winning composer, with music featured on BBC Two and commissioned by Minnesota Opera and the American Composers Forum. He currently serves as music director of St. Timothy Lutheran Church, Ovation Chamber Choir, and Mixed Precipitation's annual Picnic Operetta in his home of the Twin Cities.
Gary enjoys an international performing career, recently appearing in concert in Prague, Paris, and Urbino, and released his solo debut album, Biggest Sky, in December of 2019.
Why did you choose to study at NKU SOTA?
I began at NKU as a visual art major but quickly moved over to the music program due to the hands-on interest of the faculty into my future as a performer, and the camaraderie of fellow students. I came out prepared for a graduate program in voice and professional singing work, and once out working in the industry, I found that my musical education was comparable to colleagues from some of the top music schools in the country.
My experience at NKU was vital to my current success as a band director. James Bunte, my saxophone instructor during my time at NKU taught me so much about not only how to play and perform, but also how to teach. With the faculty connections I was also able to garner a lot of teaching experience in the NKY area which helped me hone my teaching skills before I ever stepped foot in the classroom. I also developed great relationships with my fellow students during my time at NKU, and many of those friends are current band directors in the area or they have helped me as instructors at Beechwood.
The best thing about NKU to me was the wealth of opportunities that were available, both to perform and to teach. I was able to immerse myself in numerous musical performance opportunities as well as develop extensive connections via teaching in the NKY/ Cincinnati Area.
Natasha maintains a full-time schedule of private and group piano teaching in Ohio and Kentucky, including building a group program through the Northern Kentucky University Music Prep Program. Natasha also serves as Co-President of the Northern Kentucky chapter of Music Teachers National Association and actively performs as a soloist and collaborative pianist.
Natasha’s Experience at NKU:
My education in the Piano Pedagogy program at NKU allowed me to rise to the next level as a teacher, musician, and music professional. The pedagogy coursework gave me a more intimate knowledge of pedagogical and business practices associated with private and group teaching. My piano studies with Dr. Diana Belland helped me make great strides, both technically and musically, as a performer. While at NKU I developed close relationships with faculty members that I value greatly.
I came to NKU having already earned a Bachelor's degree in piano performance, but ready to focus on building a full-time teaching career. The structure of the program let me attend my required classes during the day and teach in the evening. The Music Teachers National Association Collegiate Chapter at NKU led me to many opportunities for professional development and networking. In addition, the NKU music faculty has worked to utilize university and community resources to help students establish their careers. These opportunities are directly responsible for the teaching positions and professional relationships I hold today.
While my music degree officially includes a piano emphasis, I became very involved with music composition starting in my second year at NKU. I got to study under some wonderful faculty.
Even though I have pursued a non-musical career, my music studies at NKU greatly prepared me for both grad school and the business world. The work ethic, ability to work both individually and within a group context, and systematic approach to solving a problem that result from a musical education have greatly helped me in my career. No other area of study requires the same degree of dedication and self-discipline as music. I owe a great deal to the music faculty at NKU for instilling these principles in me.
My favorite aspect of the NKU Music Program is the individual attention given to students. The Program is optimally sized so that students receive abundant one on one time with applied lesson instructors and other professors, while there are still numerous potential ensembles and performing opportunities to become involved with.
Currently attending the University of Chicago Graduate School for Musicology (History/Theory) with an emphasis in 20th century American Music, specifically John Cage, philosophy and music, and music and film.
Joe’s Experience at NKU:
NKU’s Music Program shaped me into the musician that I am today. In high school, I spent little time on music outside of jazz. Outside of my theory knowledge, I knew very little about music. In fact, before making the change from the sciences to the music program, I had virtually no understanding of what constituted an aural skills class, or the difference between Bach and Wagner. My knowledge of music was essentially nil. The music faculty helped me transcend my inadequacies and shifted my ignorance into knowledge. The small class sizes allowed me to have personal conversations with various faculty members leading to discussion-based classwork, an important facet of graduate studies.
The most positive attribute of the Music Program at NKU is the daily interactions with highly capable professionals in the music field. Whereas in some universities, it takes weeks to schedule an appointment to converse with a faculty member, all of the faculty that I had experience with were more than willing to interact with students at any given time. In addition to meeting in an office, I often had conversations in hallways, in Greaves Concert Hall, and even in the parking lot. The size of the department may have a slight impact, however it is overwhelmingly evident that the faculty cares not only about the intellectual growth, but the personal well being of students as well.