Senior Spotlight: Emma Fischer Posted on May 18th, 2021 by

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

Emma Fischer is an Instrumental Music Education major from Minneapolis, Minn. Their current plan after college is to teach instrumental music at the secondary level and pursue a graduate degree in music education or wind band conducting. Douglas Nimmo Professor of the Gustavus Wind Orchestra James Patrick Miller has worked with Emma since their first year on campus. “I lean on Emma’s expertise, opinion, input, knowledge, creativity, and ideas every day. I am better at my job, and the band and music education programs are better in every way, because of Emma Fischer. I could not be more proud that Emma will go out into the field of wind band music education, and I cannot wait to see the impacts that they make,” he says. 

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

How have you grown in your time at Gustavus?

EF: I came into Gustavus incredibly insecure and filled with self-doubt. I didn’t think I’d ever be capable of accomplishing anything and didn’t see anything in myself. At Gustavus, I’ve developed meaningful relationships and my entire self-concept has changed. I learned to see myself as capable and I learned to do difficult things. I’m more confident, I’ve gained so many skills, and I act through my values. I feel comfortable in my own skin and work to uphold what I believe in. I’m more academically, socially, and emotionally intelligent. I am leaving Gustavus as a better person that I was when I entered.

What will you miss most about music at Gustavus?

EF: I will miss the community we have. Over my four years in GWO, our community has become compassionate and supportive in a way that is rare to find in high-level performance ensembles. We lift each other up and push each other to be the best versions of ourselves. The people who I play beside are kind, hilarious, and I’ll miss them with my whole heart. I’ll miss belonging to such a phenomenal group of human beings and miss getting to connect with them through music every day.

What’s a favorite memory you have from studying music at Gustavus?

EF: How can I choose? There’s the small moments – like the IMAs learning to sing a madrigal arrangement of All Star that we found on the ground at 10pm after setting the chapel for GWO. Or “boiling the eggs” with the GSO trumpet section. Or the time my entire music theory class laid on the floor in defeat after a dictation exam. 

Then there’s the big things, like making music with complete strangers in Malaysia, Singapore, Sweden, and Norway. Or conversations with professors that have left me with a changed perspective on what it means to study and make music. Or what it’s been like to conduct each of the bands here. 

But, if I had to choose one single memory, it would probably be the concert that GWO performed in Falun, Sweden in January 2018. Our big piece on that tour was David Maslanka’s Child’s Garden of Dreams and that piece held a deep emotional importance in my life. During that performance, I felt like I left my body and existed in this indescribable, almost spiritual realm in which the only things that existed were myself and the music. In reality, I was probably just about to pass out from the sheer amount of air I was putting through my horn, but that performance fundamentally changed who I am as a person. 

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

EF: I initially didn’t want to come to Gustavus. I applied just in case, but it ended up being the perfect place for me. If you’re considering Gustavus, take them time to meeting with professors in content areas that you’re interested in. Come sit in on classes and rehearsals (when COVID is over, or via Zoom!). Talk to current students. Gustavus is great because it offers the chance to really get to know your professors and work one on one with professionals in your field. We also have a tight knit community. So, if those are things you’re looking for, Gustavus might be a really good fit for you.

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

EF: All of my music professors have had a massive impact on me. They’ve helped me see myself for who I really am and helped me realize what I’m capable of. My relationship with my professor JPM (James Patrick Miller) has probably been the most influential because I’ve been in his ensemble for four years, I am part of his student staff, and I’m taking an independent study with him. Our conversations span beyond just what you learn in the classroom, and have taught me how to learn, how to be, and have offered a much deeper understanding of what music is. He’s helped me realize that I am actually good at some things (a belief I haven’t had for most of my life) and pushed me to grow into the best version of myself. 


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