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School of Music

Music Grad Kate Reich on Her Spiritual and Secular BYU Education

Graduating Senior Kate Reich Answers Questions about Her Time at BYU

Photo by Emma Olson, CFAC External Relations

Q: How have you found belonging during your time at BYU?

Reich: For the first two years of my degree, I was at Utah State University so coming to BYU was an interesting contrast. At BYU, I feel a lot of belonging simply based on the fact that most people around me understand my faith. It’s great to have professors who understand the other important aspects of my life. I’ve had professors who are very willing to talk about balancing a career and a family, which is something I want to do and isn’t widely talked about outside of a religious context. There are many awesome people in the music program. Those of us in the violin studio have so many things in common and we feel belonging in that way. I’ve felt a lot of belonging within the School of Music.

Q: How has your BYU education prepared you for the future?

Reich: BYU is great at teaching professional skills. BYU orchestras are very strict about being prepared for rehearsals and not missing performances. You are treated as a professional which prepares you to be a professional. Through private lessons and pedagogy classes, the examples of my professors have prepared me to be a better violin teacher. The School of Music also has masterclasses where they bring in professionals to teach the students. These masterclasses have taught me what it’s going to be like to be a professional in the real world and they have given me the opportunity to ask questions to professionals in my field.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

Reich: I am considering grad school, but my plan right now is to build my own private studio and teach. I have a great love for teaching and have good connections around Utah Valley. I also plan to continue developing my reputation as a musician and seek out opportunities to play as many gigs as I can with both folk bands and string quartets.

Q: Which professor inspired you the most and why?

Reich: I’ve been the most influenced and inspired by my violin professor, Alex Woods. He showed me how I can be both a professional musician and a parent, and he showed me that I can value both of those things. Most of my previous music teachers weren’t married or didn’t have kids because they dedicated their whole lives to music. Many musicians will tell you it is impossible to have a very successful career and have a family. An important part of my life has always been wanting a family and that is how Woods is too. He’s been able to devote time to the gospel and his family. He always says something along the lines of, “I don’t identify as a violinist. I identify as a husband and father first and foremost. And I am a person that plays the violin.”

Q: What piece of advice would you give to current students?

Reich: My biggest piece of advice is to really enjoy the amazing instruction you get as a student. It’s easy to decide not to care or listen during lectures, but then you get close to the end and you realize how great these opportunities are. Also, keep developing your skills and leave your doors open as a musician. Many classical musicians can be limited by a narrow view of what they should do. I took a pedagogy class and realized I love teaching; I also got involved with folk music. Both are now huge parts of what I want my career to be. Lastly, have fun! Don’t sacrifice your overall college experience because you’re spending so much time practicing or studying. Sometimes it is more beneficial to practice a little less and go spend time with your friends.

Q: What was your most inspiring experience at BYU and why?

Reich: I went on tour with BYU chamber orchestra two years ago, and we got to perform in Austria for Ukrainian refugees. We played a song by a Ukrainian composer that they all knew. We all stood as we began to play this piece and the refugees were touched to the point of tears. The experience made me realize that this musical gift that I have can really help people. We got to meet and talk with the refugees after the concert, and I still keep up with some of them on social media. Another inspiring thing that BYU does is the Family Concert Series. I think that they are so cool because the kids get to go up on stage afterward and try our instruments. We get to see their faces light up as they try. I cry every time I perform in a family concert because, to me, there is nothing better than getting to inspire a future generation.

Q: What was your favorite performance during your time at BYU and why?

Reich: I’ve had so many wonderful performances! I really loved performing Beethoven’s 9th Symphony in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. It was packed, and it was cool to see the wide influence we had. Another of my favorite performances was my senior recital because I could see how much my hard work and dedication had paid off, and I produced something incredible. I’ve put so much time and effort into my craft, so it was satisfying to see it all come together and to be surrounded by all the people that I love most.

Q: What is a lesson you learned during your time studying musical performance that you will never forget?

Reich: For many music majors, we get into music because it’s something we’ve done since we were young and we’re good at it. At some point along the way, we often begin to question why we chose to study music, especially when we see our peers starting their careers in other majors. For me, the biggest reason why music is important and why my career is valuable is because music touches people’s souls. The work of a musician is worth so much more than people may think because it touches real people’s lives. As musicians, we need to see music as a gift and be willing to share our talent with everyone. Being a musician enables us to invite the Spirit into a room, to bring powerful emotion to our audiences, to bring fun and dancing to listeners and to express ourselves. It’s incredible to recognize just how big of an impact we really can have on the world around us.