Katja Kleyensteuber '16
Describe what you are currently doing for work and the path you took.
I am currently a 2022–23 Fulbright Grantee based in Vienna, Austria. Here I will be conducting research while assisting in the education of English-language learners at the secondary level and participating in cultural exchange that fosters mutual understanding between Austria and the United States. I am conducting my research project, "Curricular Call and Response: The Future of Music Education in Vienna," in affiliation with the University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna (mdw), where I will also be completing coursework in the Theory and Practice of Musikvermittlung and Community Music, Human Rights Meets The Arts, and Music Education Curriculum and Sociology. Through the experiences I had during my time at UNH and the faculty members that have continued to support me in my post-graduate endeavors, I was able to attend Boston University where I earned my Master’s degree in music education while teaching as a graduate assistant in the School of Music. My master’s thesis at Boston University, “Affirmation, Awareness and Action: Curriculum for Social Justice and Music Education,” advanced my engagement with curriculum design and its importance in addressing current cultural influences in the lives of our students. Researching 21st-century curriculum development also inspired me to investigate how we have begun addressing diversity in music education at different levels and encouraged my desire for further cross-cultural investigation. These interests, along with the fellowship office at UNH where I first learned about Fulbright, contributed to my current position as a 22-23 Fulbright Combined Grantee with Fulbright Austria.
How did your education in your major(s) and COLA prepare you for life after college?
Studying music education at UNH/COLA provided me with the opportunity to become a well rounded music educator and to make valuable lifelong connections with a variety of talented colleagues. I gained the skills needed to enter the profession confident in my abilities as a musician and educator, and with the knowledge and adaptability required to meet the needs of my students and to continue learning along the way.
What person or course most influenced you while at UNH?
The faculty in the Music Department influenced me most during my time at UNH. It is difficult to name one person because I remember feeling very supported and learning something useful in every course taken during my time in the music department - whether it was about music, teaching or myself. But I truly appreciate Dr. Andrew Boysen and Nic Orovich for not only supporting me extensively in my studies at UNH, but also in my post graduate endeavors - especially in applying for graduate school and my Fulbright grant. After graduating, Jeanne Sokolowski (from UNH’s fellowship office) also unexpectedly helped me prepare for grad school. Through my first Fulbright application she taught me how to write more efficiently, effectively and professionally - all of which proved extremely beneficial the following year when I began writing master’s level research papers. I would highly recommend taking advantage of every resource that UNH has to offer - within and outside of the Music Department!
What advice do you have for students interested in your field?
My advice for your time as a music major at UNH is to take advantage of every opportunity, especially those that you have less experience with or may throw you a bit outside of your comfort zone. Coming into my studies at UNH I had the goal of teaching music at the high school level upon earning my B.M. degree. But when thinking about the fact that we are certified in K-12 music education after graduating, I decided to do my student teaching at the elementary level - where I had the least experience. This gave me the confidence to apply for a variety of K-12 positions and although I did achieve my goal of teaching at the HS level upon graduating, I have since comfortably taught at the collegiate, middle and elementary levels as well. I did not know it at the time, but choosing to learn more about something outside of my comfort zone led to a series of events that continue to inspire my evolving interests in music education and current research as a Fulbright Grantee. Another piece of advice for students interested in becoming music educators would be to remember that everyone is human - you, your students, future colleagues, etc. If you utilize compassion and empathy in your teaching and learning, it benefits everyone.
Anything else you'd like to share?
Inspired by our inability to visit elementary students to demonstrate instruments at the start of the pandemic, I wrote a children’s book to help introduce students to the instruments they can learn to play in band . Also, if you don’t apply then you are saying “no” to yourself. Give yourself the opportunity to grow and the potential for someone to say “yes”! If you are interested in learning more about Fulbright or what it’s like to apply for grants and fellowships, please feel free to reach out.