New improved CAT includes hiring music program director

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CAT Music Program Director Mandy Kruse. Photo by Deb Wuethrich.

Community Arts Tecumseh (CAT) has been expanding programs since its founding a few years ago by Jean Lash and Martha Melcher, and the enhancements continue. In mid-December, CAT hired Mandy Kruse as the Music Program Director.

“We’ve been restructuring our organization, and one of the things we did was an online survey to help us assess what the needs are in our community,” said Lash. “There have been many requests regarding our music program, so hiring Mandy was a part of that.”

Kruse obtained her Bachelor of Music in Performance at the University of West Georgia, and also has studied Music Therapy at Eastern Michigan University. She first came to Michigan in 2001, and has lived in Tecumseh since 2009 with her husband, Gavin, and two daughters, Elise, 8, and Camdenne, 6. Kruse teaches the flute.

Her area of responsibility will be to oversee the music offerings at CAT, providing a variety of music experiences through private lessons and beyond.

“One of the things we’re looking at is starting a boy’s choir,” said Kruse, adding that the offering will appear in a soon to be available catalog. “We’re looking for young boys through age 17 who might be interested, and it would be something unique to the community and this area.”

Another offering is a Summer Music Camp. “Last year’s theme was World Music, and we had a wonderful time exploring different cultures,” she said. “We also blended art into the mix and created instruments through a Build Your Own Instrument class that was geared toward upper elementary students. It’s so rewarding when a child can take something and recycle the materials.”

One of CAT’s long-term goals is to build a bridge with schools in the area, possibly through after-school programs or other music experiences. Kruse is complimentary of the music instructors who have been involved with the organization, saying they are not just instructors, but performers themselves.

New instructors include Katie Book, who will teach oboe; Bey Hurt, trumpet; and Dave Lane, who will teach guitar, sitar, banjo and other stringed instruments.

“Along with the new instructors, we will still have vocal and piano instructor, Lucy Thompson, and Anna Pasternak, violin instructor,” Kruse said. “Anna is also involved with art as a talented artist. I am so honored to work with all these talented people.”

Kruse said she believes that everyone has musical talent in some respect and it is a delight to see the response in someone who is discovering it for themselves.

“When you have a positive experience through music, I think it improves self-esteem,” she said. “You feel like you have accomplished something and it really does involve a quality of life, no matter what your age. It’s neat to see someone experience this and go, ‘Wow! I did it!’”

In her role as music program director, Kruse said she is always looking for what might best fit the community’s needs, whether it is through individual lessons or some ensemble experiences. Personally, she has been involved in Tecumseh Pops Orchestra, Croswell Opera House productions and other performance and teaching venues.

Kruse joins Nicki Coughlin, who was recently hired as the Executive Director at CAT, and Linda Knape, hired as Art Program Director.

“I’m so thankful that Nicki is here,” said Kruse. “She has been doing a fantastic job getting us all together and organizing the office. She’s been fantastic to work with.”

Upcoming important dates for the music program include: Summer Music Camp, July 7-11, 9:30 to 11 a.m. weekdays; and Build Your Own Instrument class on Wednesdays in February.

“I really encourage people to sign up quickly,” said Kruse.

More information is available at the CAT website, www.tecumseharts.org, or by calling 423.0000.




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