Dr. Kelsey Nussbaum // Class of 2009

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to play such a wide variety of orchestral repertoire during my tenure in GDYO. 

Dr. Kelsey Nussbaum currently teaches undergraduate and graduate coursework in music education at the University of Washington. She spent five years teaching string orchestra in public schools in Austin, Texas and continues to maintain a private bass studio. Nussbaum earned her PhD and MM from the University of North Texas and her Bachelor’s from the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Nussbaum pursues an active research agenda that explores institutional, structural, and societal barriers which may be impacting access, equity, and inclusion within all levels of music education.

What was your favorite GDYO experience or memory? Do you feel that GDYO had an impact on your life?

My favorite experience with GDYO was the 2007 tour to China. It is still hard to believe that we had access to such a spectacular experience. I am also incredibly grateful for the opportunity to play such a wide variety of orchestral repertoire during my tenure in GDYO. Going on to be a music major and perform professionally, it was very helpful to have already performed so much of the “standard” orchestral repertoire. 

Tell us about what you’ve been up to since graduating from GDYO.

I taught orchestra for 5 years in Austin and then decided to pursue my PhD in music education at the University of North Texas so that I could teach future music educators at the collegiate level. While in Austin, I also regularly performed with the Austin, Round Rock, and Temple Symphonies. In the 2021-2022 school year I have been teaching music education courses at the University of Washington in Seattle.  

What life achievements are you most proud of so far and why?

Completing and defending my dissertation. Going through the process of earning my PhD was the most challenging and rewarding experience in my educational and professional life. 

Tell us about some of your personal and/or professional goals for the future.

My main research interest is to examine institutional, structural, and societal barriers which may be impeding students from participating in school music programs. As such, I want to support and build initiatives that broaden access to music education while also challenging traditional structures of music education to be more accessible and inclusive spaces. Forms of musicianship that are most valued in our society are very expensive and emphasize European cultural traditions; I would like to help future and current music educators expand the boundaries of what music education in schools can look like. 

Who or what inspires you?

Token cheesy response, but I’d have to say my students. The state of education right now is precarious and those working in education have been struggling for the past few years. But conversations with my students (future music teachers) keep me motivated to push ahead. 

Any hobbies, fun facts, or life highlights outside your career you’d like to share?

Growing up, one of my favorite things to do was play card games with my friends from orchestra. We would all gather at someone’s house on the weekend and play for hours on end. I still really enjoy playing games and puzzles of any form. I recently was gifted Wingspan and am currently obsessed. Also, whenever I travel, my partner and I will try to go to at least one escape room wherever we are visiting. 

What advice would you give to current GDYO students?

It’s ok ease up and take time to have fun. I remember growing up in North Texas along with the other overachiever types. Everything felt so high-stakes in high school due to the pressure of competition and AP (or IB) courses, but life only gets more complicated after high school. Strike a balance, take a class or do an extracurricular just because you wanted to and not because you felt you should. Also, don’t feel like you need to be an expert just to try out a new hobby or activity. You did not start out sounding amazing on your instrument, but you were able to find joy among the squeaks and crunches. 

THANK YOU DR. NUSSBAUM FOR STEPPING INTO OUR ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT! 

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW WOULD BE INTERESTED IN SHARING THE ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT OR WOULD LIKE MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE GDYO ALUMNI ASSOCIATION, CONTACT CHARILYNE ROJAS AT CHARILYNE@GDYO.ORG.

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