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Nathan Kroptavich

Choosing Music

March 14, 2013 at 10:08 AM

It's Music in Our Schools month, and in celebration, I'm sharing my story of why I became a music teacher.

Some people know what they want to be when they grow up from an early age.  Others, like me, go through phases of interest. Mine included: professional baseball player, zookeeper, marine biologist, engineer, astronaut, pharmacist, and doctor.  My career aspirations, like many people, centered around my desire to make a positive difference in the world.  So, when I enrolled at Marywood University as a freshman, I was a physician's assistant major.

For those of you who are deciding on colleges and major areas of study, my advice is to find something you're passionate about doing (or think you're passionate about) and get involved. Don't wait to graduate or start working in a field that you thought you'd love but realize that it's not a good fit. I was so grateful that the medical program I enrolled in required volunteer or paid experience in patient care before entering the professional phase. I realized very quickly, after volunteering at a local hospital, that I was not destined for a career in medicine. Fortunately, while this door was closing, another door to a completely different career was opening.

I've always enjoyed playing the violin. Some of my fondest memories growing up involved performing in school orchestra concerts and playing violin at church, but I never really took private lessons. When my next door neighbor, who also happened to be a music major at the same college I was attending, said there was an opening in her violin professor's studio, I was interested! She told me that I didn't have to be a music major to take lessons, and I could get credit for the lessons on my transcript. Little did I know that those lessons would be the catalyst for moving into a career in music.

I really admired my violin professor.  Not only was she a phenomenal performer, but she was also a very encouraging and supportive teacher.  She had a way of explaining concepts that just made sense, and if one way didn't work, she had about five more ways to explain them.  I was inspired to not only to become a better violinist but also learn how to become a better violinist.  I was fascinated with the process.  Sometimes my professor would ask, "Why aren't you a music ed major?"  I would always reply, "Because I'm a physician's assistant major."  What she didn't realize, or maybe she did, was that my heart was getting attached to the study of music.  I also wanted to learn how to teach, conduct, and write music.  Maybe I could inspire students the way that my violin professor and other music teachers in my life inspired me?

After much reflection, prayers, and discussions with important people in my life, I changed my major area of study and embarked on an exciting journey of studying and teaching music. Following my God-given passion was, and still is, one of the best decisions I have made. There have been tough times when I have doubted my calling, but I have always come back to realizing that I am where I need to be. Music makes a difference. I see it in the smiles on my students' faces when they draw their bows across the strings for the very first time. I notice it when my two-year-old dances every time I play Twinkle Variations for her. I feel it whenever my wife and I play our senior recital duet together. Yes, music makes a difference, so I choose music.

This is a link to a piece my wife, Stacy, and I played at our senior recital

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