Alumnus returns to teach in the Music Department

Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Kate Heidemann ’04, an alumna of the College, has returned to the Hill as the newest addition to the Music Department. This fall she is teaching “Music Theory III” and “Deconstructing Popular Music”, a class that she proposed. Her story is one that accentuates the values not only of academia, but the importance of music as it relates to “aspects of life, society [and] culture.”

Heidemann came to the College initially from the town of Wilton, Connecticut. She came to the Hill, because in her words, “I knew I wanted to go to a small school…I really liked the small class size.” In addition, she desired to be in the Northeast, near her family. Her sister and niece, also residents of Maine, are now attending the Jacobs School of Music in Indiana.

For her four years at Mayflower Hill, Heidemann gained a love for her studies and the community. “It was such a welcome change from high school,” she said, “Academically, it was really exciting.”

Heidemann was a double major in music and philosophy, and while she “really enjoyed philosophy” she spent most of her time in Bixler Art and Music Center—home of the Music department and her new office—studying music. She loved her professors and warmly considered her group of peers to be a “little family of music majors.”

Explaining her interest in music, Heidemann stated: “I think music’s really great…It just made me happy.” Interestingly, her love of music did not stem from family traditions. Heidemann is the only musician in her family, aside from her grandmother, who taught her how to play the piano.

Nevertheless, she dove into the practice wholeheartedly during her time at the College. The majority of her academic and extracurricular ventures concerned the musical world—whether they were the orchestra, the jazz band or her time with the Bangor Symphony— though she did cite a “very brief stint in water polo.”
Though she had had no definite plans for graduate school before becomign an undergraduate, she decided during her junior year that it would be the best course of action.

After graduating from the College, she attended Columbia University in New York City, where she received her doctorate. She characterized the school as a “really intense place,” before going on to add, “that intensity was also really enriching.”

While at Columbia, she explained that she lost whatever timidity she had had as a person and that she found she “fit with the character of Columbia really well.”
Upon graduating with her doctorate degree, she began looking at academic job markets. Explaining how they worked on a yearly cycle that commences in the fall, with interviews typically in the spring. She said she was fortunate enough to see an opening at her alma mater. She was hired by Colby and began her career as a professor for the current academic year.

Heidemann said her first few weeks on the Hill have been very busy, but she loves being able to teach a small class. Her classes heretofore have been challenging in that there is a “really wide range” of participants­­­­—people with no background in music to people who consider it their passion.

While there is inherent difficulty in “finding something for everyone,” she said it is also a satisfying experience because “everyone brings their own expertise.”
Heidemann offered her own expertise as well, in the form of two sage pieces of advice. On the subject of how those who have difficulty with music could get involved with music in their future, she said, “I believe everybody can sing and I believe everyone can do something percussive.” While the central problem is that music is “so easy to enjoy [and] so difficult to play,” there’s “no shame in starting [with] something simple.”

She also added that people shouldn’t “be really hard on themselves [and should] be really satisfied with simpler performances.”

For those students who are interested in music but are unsure if it is a safe career route, she suggested they “learn about the business side of it.” One must be “creative in a business sense,” as well as creative musically to succeed financially, she said. However, she made sure to note that this idea should never serve as a deterrent to following that particular dream.

After graduating from the College, Heidemann received her PhD from Columbia University.

After graduating from the College, Heidemann received her PhD from Columbia University.

“We’ll never stop creating art,” she said. “We just have to figure out how to eat while we create art.”

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