Senior Spotlight: Natalie Johnson Posted on April 19th, 2021 by

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

Natalie Johnson is a Music honors major in composition with a Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies minor from Maywood, IL. She is planning to attend graduate school to get her masters in oboe performance and pedagogy, and intends to eventually get her doctorate in oboe pedagogy in order to teach oboe and music theory/aural skills at the collegiate level. Adjunct Instructor of Oboe Sarah Erickson-Lume has been Natalie’s oboe instructor throughout her years at Gustavus. “Natalie is a wonderful student and I am excited that she is going on to graduate school to study oboe! Our weekly lessons are so satisfying because of her drive and perseverance to grow as a musician. We work together well: she pushes herself and welcomes being pushed to reach higher standards. I am confident that her wonderful way of being will shine light on her path as she seeks the beauty of music making on the oboe,” she says. 

We asked Natalie to give us a little insight into her time at Gustavus and what her future plans are.

What will you miss most about music at Gustavus?

NJ: I will miss the community. The people here care so much about each other and have such a good time, and that shows in the music. I will miss the after-rehearsal collective migration to the caf, all of the jokes, and playing music with my best friends every single day.

How have you grown in your time at Gustavus?

NJ: When I first arrived at Gustavus, I was horrified of anyone hearing me make a noise on my oboe. Every time I ever had anything exposed, I would try my best to hide and would become too shaky to even make a peep. With the support of my friends and teachers over the past four years, I am happy to say that I have been able to work through this fear and grow into a more confident musician. If you would have told first-year me that I would have the blessing of being able to stand in front of both the Gustavus Symphony Orchestra and the Gustavus Wind Orchestra as a soloist and enjoyed it, I would have not believed you.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give high school students considering Gustavus?

NJ: Do it, do it, do it. Like a lot of schools, you put in what you take out, but Gustavus will really push you to become a better version of yourself in whatever field you enter in. The people you will meet here are unmatched, and will impact you in ways that will continually inspire you and make you want to be better.

What is the most interesting class you’ve taken at Gustavus and why?

NJ: The most interesting class I have taken at Gustavus definitely was my FTS with JPM. We learned all about film and video game music, and how to write and talk about it. This was when I was introduced to one of my favorite movie scores, the Studio Ghibli film Princess Mononoke. Three years later to my pleasant surprise, GWO was able to play excerpts from the score and truly was magical each time.

What professor has made the biggest impact on you and why?

NJ: My professors at Gustavus were at the core of my incredible experience here at Gustavus. Two of them who have made a huge impact on me are my wonderful private lesson teachers, Sarah Erickson-Lume for oboe, and Dr. Alexandra Bryant for composition. Both are incredible people, and are so talented in terms of their art as well as their pedagogy and have pushed me to new horizons as an individual and as a musician. I am also grateful for conductors Dr. James Patrick Miller and Dr. Ruth Lin, both amazing individuals and teachers who also been unwaveringly supportive and uplifting. They both have introduced me to music, memories, and tours that will live with me for a lifetime, for which I will be forever grateful. All of these professors have been unwavering in their support and kindness, and I feel so lucky to have been able to spend four years studying with them.


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