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Practice Takes Perseverance

UMD music education student Karl Kubiak
October 31, 2017

Two senior music education students share their stories and invite you to their bassoon recitals, so reed up! 

As finals crawl nearer, students prepare for tests, projects, presentations, and for seniors Karl Kubiak and Dennis Pearson, recitals, too. Karl and Dennis play the bassoon, a woodwind instrument with a deep, rich sound.

Karl’s recital is in Weber Music Hall on Tuesday, November 14, 2017, at 7:30 pm, and Dennis will perform at Weber on Sunday, November 19, 2017, at 7:30 pm. Both recitals are free and open to the community.

Learn what “bassooning” is all about!

Karl and Dennis are both music education majors, and they have both been nearly lifelong students of music. Karl, hailing from Bagley, Minn., describes his initial exposure to band, “We did an instrument petting zoo. I started the summer before I went into fifth grade. I played trombone all the way through to eleventh grade and then switched to bassoon my senior year, and I’ve been playing it ever since.”

For Dennis, a local from Two Harbors, Minn., it was a family business. He remembers, “When I was younger, my two of my older sisters were in band. One played the saxophone and she always practiced at home and I thought it was so cool. She let me try it, and then I started taking lessons the summer before sixth grade.” After a jaw surgery in eighth grade, Dennis had to switch to playing percussion, which taught him the bass clef used in playing the bassoon, leading him to play that throughout high school and college.

Karl Kubiak

Karl has seen dreams come true while studying music at UMD. He says, “It’s really cool to be referred by your faculty here and go and play with a professional orchestra.” He has played bassoon with the UMD Symphony Orchestra, the Symphonic Wind Ensemble, the Chequamegon Symphony, and the Mesabi Symphony, among other professional orchestras in the Twin Ports area.

However, he did not get to where he is by sitting around. Karl explains his packed schedule, “I’m taking twenty-six credits, I have very limited free time in the day to do homework, practice, make reeds, sleep, eat, so I really learned to balance my time and make the most out of my day.

UMD music education student Karl Kubiak

Music Education major Karl Kubiak will perform his senior recital in Weber Music Hall on November 14, 2017.

The discipline involved in studying music teaches perseverance. Karl encourages, “You get really beaten down playing music because everything is constantly being worked on. Nothing is perfect, there are always things to fix. Even if you’re having a bad day, just remember, you’re doing this because you love it.” 

About the best part of being a music education student at UMD, Karl states, “I would say the community, as in a sense of belonging. The opportunities available here are great. You get that big school feel with high caliber faculty, but we are also a small school, which is nice.”

When asked why music is important to him, Karl says, “Music is my break for the day, even though I do it all day. I can sit back and listen to what I’m creating out of nothing. It’s therapeutic almost.”

Karl has a passion for education, too. He smiles, “It’s so great. I love it! Music has the potential to combine every subject and relate them to one another which helps your brain learn. There’s biology, like what kind of bacteria live on your instrument and why you should clean it, or the physics of music and the sound waves, as well as history and culture. It’s the coolest part.”

Karl is looking forward to his senior recital, practicing several different pieces. He says, “I’ve been preparing since the spring. I’m doing a duet with a percussionist who will be playing tambourine-like instruments.” 

Dennis Pearson

Dennis has had unique opportunities while studying at UMD. “Since I’ve been in college, I’ve played with the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra (DSSO), the Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra, and the Wind Ensemble when they played at the Minnesota Music Educators Association conference in Minneapolis,” says Dennis.

Dennis describes his battle with reeds, the essential mouthpieces of the bassoon. “You have to make those yourself because otherwise they’re too expensive. They cost like $20 a piece for a reed that might not work. I’m still struggling with that.”

UMD music student Dennis Pearson

Senior Dennis Pearson prepares for his bassoon recital in Weber Music Hall on November 19, 2017, while pursuing his degree in music education.

Dennis spends about three hours each day practicing his pieces and parts for various ensembles. While he has to rely on his fellow musicians to have the integrity to practice their own parts, he has grown in his character, too. “You learn a lot of patience in your own practicing. It’s a lot of hard work to get your pieces down,” he remarks.  

Dennis agrees that students should get involved in UMD’s music opportunities if they are interested. He compels other students, “Take the opportunities that you get here. It’s a really good experience and you make a lot more friends than just going to your lecture classes.” If you need further encouragement, Dennis insists, “The faculty are amazing. They’re all really nice and friendly.”

Dennis explains the significance of music in all stages of life. “In young people, it gives another form of expression. When you get older, music teaches you patience, perseverance, hard work so you keep practicing and you can have that attitude with other school work. When you’re ancient, you know, like forty, then it’s a pastime. It’s just a skill that people should have because you can enjoy it later in life.”

About his recital, Dennis assures, “All of the music is really fun. I like it and I’m sure the audience will like it.” He ends with a challenge to step out of your comfort zone, “You don’t have many opportunities to listen to a bassoon, so this is your chance to see what bassooning is all about.”

Be sure to check out the School of Fine Arts’ Department of Music website for more information about their programs and majors as well as more upcoming recitals and concerts. Support your fellow Bulldogs!