Senior Spotlight: Coleden Wedge

Posted on May 15th, 2020 by

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

Coleden Wedge is a music education major from Saint Bonifacius, Minn. Next fall he plans to student teach and then find an instrumental music education position before pursuing graduate school. Jon and Anita Thomsen Young Distinguished Chair in Music and Conductor of the Gustavus Choir Brandon Dean has worked with Coleden since his first year at Gustavus. “I have been so impressed by Coleden’s consistency over the past four years. I appreciate that he always maintained high expectations for himself and would go the extra mile to ensure he was successful in whatever task was at hand,” he says. “I’m thrilled for him to be starting his career in music education and know that he will make a big difference in the lives of his students.”

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

What will you miss most about music at Gustavus?: 
CW: The community. Hands down that is the part I will miss the most about the music department at Gustavus. It’s very special when you find a group of people that are so invested and passionate about what they do that they continually want to perform at the highest level possible. But more than that, all of us in GWO and G Choir are here because we want to be, and because music is an integral part of who we all are. It keeps us connected. When you walk into our rehearsal space, whether that’s 106 or Björling, you get to drop all of your problems at the door and make incredible music with even more amazing people for at least an hour a day. We all support each other and it never matters what section you play or sing in, you’re a part of the bigger group as a whole. That’s not something you find out in the “real world” and that’s what makes music at Gustavus so special.

What’s a favorite memory you have from your time in music here?
CW: Perhaps the memory or set of memories that will undoubtedly stick with me the most was GWO’s 2018 tour to Norway and Sweden. That trip was unlike anything I had ever done before and will probably never be able to do anything like it again. I got to spend 16 days with some of my absolute best friends and make new connections with people that have become very important people in my life. The performance venues were stunning and each performance. I thought just seemed to get better. There was so much that happened over those 16 days that I can’t possibly write it all out. If you were involved in the 2018 GWO Norway & Sweden tour in any way, thank you for making that experience one of the most memorable times in my life.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to high school students considering Gustavus?
CW: Come. To. Gustavus. You will absolutely not regret it. There is a place for you here. There are so many groups and ways to be involved on campus that oftentimes it doesn’t even feel like you’re at school at all. If there’s something that you’re interested in but there’s not a club for it, guess what? You can start that club! I know one of the things that concerns many prospective students is the price tag of Gustavus, believe me I was in that boat as well, but I can guarantee you that there will never be a time that I’ll regret writing the check to pay off loans. I’ll never regret making the choice to come to Gustavus because of all the incredible resources, memories, and life-lasting friendships that I have made here on The Hill. So, if you are hesitant in any way, come take a tour, spend a night with one of our amazing student hosts. You’ll realize pretty quickly what a special place Gustavus can be.

How are you continuing your music in your new surroundings? 
CW: Well since I’m a percussionist with no access to any percussion gear, I haven’t done much percussion practicing in this new educational setting. I thought about bringing out the pots and pans but I figured my parents might not like that. Much of my time is spent playing our upright piano in our living room. Piano was what first got me into music so it seems fitting that it has continued to be my source of creativity and musical inspiration during this new time. I have also recently acquired quite a collection of vinyl records, some of which are recordings of the Gustavus Band and Gustavus Choir, so much of my time has been spent listening to those. It’s a very rare instance in our household that there isn’t some form of music being played.

What professor has made the biggest impact on you and why? 
CW: That might be the hardest question to answer of them all. As an instrumental music education major, any professor I interact with in any department impacts me, because I’m constantly pulling teaching techniques from what I experienced with them in class. I think every professor makes an impact on me because there are parts of their philosophy, how they interact with the students, project ideas, classroom management strategies that I know I’m going to continue to use with my own students. It doesn’t matter if they were one of my gen-ed profs or one of my major course profs, I was impacted by all of them in some way.

However, with that being said, I can narrow it down to three professors listed in no particular order:

  1. Dr. Brandon Dean: I have absolutely loved singing under the direction of Dr. Dean for the past four years. It is so clear how much Dr. Dean cares about the incredible music we make, but it’s even more clear how much he cares about every single one of his students. He puts so much of himself into the music that he makes because he cares about all of us so much and he makes us all want to perform better because of that. When Dr. Dean took the position as director of G Choir, I knew I had to audition to be in that group, because I couldn’t imagine singing in my last C in CC and last year in choir under the direction of anyone except him. The love and care that he shows towards his students is something that has greatly impacted me and I hope I can show that same love and passion towards my students and my teaching as I continue my career.
  2. James Patrick Miller (JPM): I have had the honor and privilege of playing in GWO for four years under the incredible direction of JPM. While JPM shares many of the same attributes as Dr. Dean, the thing that has impacted me the most from his teaching and mentoring is the desire and love to play and create music for the sake of the music. I know that can be confusing to wrap your mind around, but the way I have always interpreted it is “playing and creating music because the music deserves to be played and heard.”  There are so many tidbits of information and conducting techniques that I have pulled from JPM that I’m sure will find their way into my own rehearsal space and conducting techniques.
  3. Lisa Dembouski: Lisa is one of the single greatest human beings that I have ever met. Ever. And I’m not the only one who thinks that. Ask any education major and they’ll tell you just how great she is. Her passion for teaching is only matched, if not exceeded, by her passion to take care of all of her students. She loves what she does and it is absolutely infectious. It doesn’t matter what kind of day I’m having, if I see Lisa around campus I am instantly in a better mood. She constantly checks in with all of us to see how we are doing and if we need to adjust anything class wise. I have learned so much from Lisa about how to be an effective and inclusive teacher that I can’t wait to implement into my own class. I’ve also learned how rewarding it can be when you are actually doing the thing that you love, which in both of our cases is teaching.



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