Senior Spotlight: Zander Boettcher

Posted on April 29th, 2020 by

The “Senior Spotlight” series honors graduating fine arts majors for their contributions to the Gustavus community.

Zander Boettcher is a senior music major from Mankato, Minn. This fall he plans to work full time for the family business, United Team Elite, while he decides what he wants to do next. Gustavus Symphony Orchestra Conductor Ruth Lin says that Zander has a bright future ahead of him. “Zander is one of the most curious students I’ve known,” she says. “He wants to learn everything and he soaks everything up like a sponge. Given his diverse interest and his dedication to the task at hand, I can’t wait to see what he will do next.”

We asked Zander to give us a little insight into his time at Gustavus and how he’s “staying musical” while living off-campus.

What will you miss most about music at Gustavus?
ZB: The thing I will most at Gustavus is playing music with some of my best friends and just the connection I feel to everyone when we play. I’ll miss that feeling you get when a group has been working on a piece for a while and everyone just nails their part and it all fits together just right. I will also miss all of the firsts of the year, like after coming back from summer or a long break and that first rehearsal when you can feel the energy in the room and you can feel the sound around you.

Can you tell us about a favorite memory you have from music at Gustavus?
ZB: Oh man, as much as I love all five of the ensembles I was in almost every year, nothing brought me as much excitement and joy as G Jazz did on tour to Singapore and Malaysia. There was one concert especially, I think it was in Penang, where we were just on our game. We pulled out a chart called “Ahunk, Ahunk.” It’s a blues that’s in 5/4, and there was an open solo section in the middle of the piece, and the soloists just shredded that night. You could just feel their energy, and what really made that moment for me was how connected the rhythm section was. We were so locked in that we were able to switch between a 3-2 5/4 and a 2-3 5/4 (that may not make sense to some people) for the first time ever and we all did it at the same time unplanned. We were also all interacting with the soloist and man oh man, I will never forget the way I felt after that piece, it’s giving me goosebumps just thinking about it right now, definitely one of my favorite jazz charts I’ve ever played. 

How are you continuing your music in your new surroundings?
ZB: Well, I’d like to say that I’ve been studying so much more music and learning new instruments and composing more, but really it’s been the same as it was at school. I’ve just been practicing my normal amount trying to work on jazz and my solo repertoire. I have my bass in my room now though so it’s been a lot easier to “go practice” for me than it was at school so that’s motivating for me.

One positive thing about being at home is that now when I go on walks for my walking class I get to listen to music, and because I’m not in a classroom for my other classes, oftentimes I can listen to music then too. So, I’ve been getting a lot more listening done than I was previously, and listening is such an important part of learning. I’ve also been creating a little more time for myself to do ear training, which previously I was not doing at all, much less everyday.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to high school students considering Gustavus?
ZB: Gustavus is an amazing school full of amazing people and amazing faculty, but make sure you look at other schools too, if for no other reason than to show you why Gustavus is really the most special place to be.

Also, when you do come here, make sure to talk to as many different people as possible during orientation and that first month or two of school. There are people I met during orientation that I never would have seen in any of my classes or ever even met on campus that I’m really good friends with now.

I think the most important thing to remember is to never take anything for granted while you’re there. You’ll hear seniors say every single year “the four years go by fast” or “I feel like I just got here” and there’s a reason you hear that every year. It’s because they really do just speed by. One moment you’re at the square dance awkwardly trying to do a dance you don’t understand with people you don’t know, and next thing you know you’re walking across the stage getting handed your diploma.



  1. Richard Tostenson says:

    Congratulations Zander,
    We are all so very proud of all you have accomplished.

  2. Craig Nelson says:

    Nice interview, Zander!

    You are a multi-talented individual who will continue to weave a beautiful tapestry expressing your many interests in life. I can hardly wait to see the amazing warp and weft that you choose to intermingle.

  3. Sharon Rodgers says:

    Zander, it’s been a pleasure to know you. Thanks for being an excellent student in my class.