Katie Carlson ‘19
All Stories

As Carthage graduates make their way in the world, the experiences they receive at Carthage stick with them on their future journeys. For Katie Carlson ’19, her time at Carthage helped prepare her to continue her education at Florida State University. Now after completing her Masters of Music Education, Katie will continue learning through her new teaching position at Golda Meir in Milwaukee. I spoke with Katie about her graduate program, her time at Carthage, and what students can do to take advantage of Carthage’s unique opportunities.

How was your graduate program at Florida State?

Just amazing. Of course there was a pandemic, which threw a wrench into it, but overall it was an amazing experience. I am so glad I went at the time that I did; I think it was the perfect time to continue my education. It has prepared me perfectly for my new position at Golda Meir.

How did Carthage prepare you to succeed at Florida State?

In general, Carthage being a liberal arts school gave me opportunities to explore different areas of music. At Florida State I got to spend some time working with undergraduates whose goal was to become music teachers. I think the method courses outside my specialty, strings, prepared me for both graduate level studies and my work with undergraduates at Florida State. I think that ties into what Carthage represents with its liberal arts education. You get to explore multiple options while still pursuing your degree. I think my experiences with Carthage and Florida State are a perfect example of that.

Is there anything you would have done differently at Carthage or Florida State?

At Carthage, I regret not being in choir, because I realize how much I love to sing. That is something I wish I had more time for at Carthage. For FSU, I wish that I had explored more of their performance options. My degree at FSU was a Masters in Music Education and I played in the university symphony my first year at Florida State, but I wish that I explored their other performance opportunities. They have a wide variety of eclectic styles like steel pan or world music, which are well known around campus. I wished I took the opportunity to explore those styles when I was there.

Has there been a faculty member at Carthage that has had a profound impact on your education or your growth as a person?

As far as music education, I would say Dr. Kawakami and Dr. Ripley had a large impact. Both were really supportive as I transitioned to graduate school. I have contacted both of them since the start and end of grad school. Their conducting and music education courses certainly prepared me for graduate school.

What are you excited about with your position at Golda Meir?

I am so excited. Golda Meir is a public school in Milwaukee with grades 3-12, which is a unique opportunity for their students. I am really excited to work with a wide variety of ages from all over Milwaukee.  I’ll be their orchestra teacher which is awesome. I am most excited to meet all of my students. It is a difficult time for everybody through this pandemic, so I am curious to see what is going on in that school regarding their orchestra and seeing what they want to build as they take me on.

What has been your favorite experience at Carthage?

My favorite experiences would be my two J-Term trips. For my first J-Term trip, I went to Austria and Hungary with Dr. Garcia-Novelli for the Kodaly J-Term trip. That was an amazing experience where I was able to see the Kodaly method up close. It was such an eye-opening opportunity. The Kodaly training we were exposed to there actually helped me at the master’s level. The other highlight was the Philharmonic trip to Austria and Germany which was just a blast. Getting to play our repertoire in historical venues was such a great experience.

What is some advice you would give to current Carthage students?

I would say two things. Firstly, ask questions, because people are there to help you. You do not have to do everything yourself. Whatever you’re struggling with has likely been done before, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Ask for help. That is why you are in school. Secondly, be involved in as much as you can, even if you don’t think it will directly help your career. During the Kodaly trip, I was unsure what I would use the Kodaly method for if I was not teaching general music, but sure enough I am using it to this very day. I think being involved in as much as you can will expose you to as many things as possible. It is what makes our liberal education special and is why you come to Carthage.