One of the defining moments in my cultural career was in the fourth grade at Pershing Elementary School in Lincoln, Nebraska. It was time to try out stringed instruments. Mrs. Rosemary Brown came to our class with violins, violas, cellos, and basses. I was so excited! When it was my turn; she had me try the viola and immediately said, “You have very strong shoulders. The viola will be good for you.” As a 9-year-old boy, I was sold.
From that point on, I was a musician and I knew I would be a musician forever. I loved my music classes so much, I even took up my second (and now primary) instrument, the saxophone. My family has always supported me through and through on whatever interests me, so I feel that I have really been blessed with positive role models. Further, it’s the music educators in my life that have made the difference in who I am today.
In middle school, Mr. Huadong Lu would let me come to school an hour early, during his plan time, to practice and perform for him. He would be working on his computer and shout from across the stage (that was our classroom), “Put more weight into the bow!” or “Play that more staccato!” He didn’t have to let me bother him during his morning plan time, but he wanted to help me be a better musician. What’s more, he gave me free lessons over the summer (a $45 value per lesson!) in return for my promise to practice two hours PER DAY! As a middle school boy, that was crazy! But I was motivated and became much better for it.
Since Mr. Lu, I have had Mr. Scott Vicroy, who gave me a couple months of free lessons when my family couldn’t afford them any longer because he saw something in me; and Dr. Paul Haar, the saxophone professor at UNL, who took me under his wing, giving me free lessons to help me audition for the School of Music at UNL because he saw my potential. It makes me wonder where I would be today, had I not been blessed to receive these selfless people into my life. It is because of them that I am a music educator today and because of them I will give myself to my students in need. They are my inspiration and the reason why I am heading into the career of my dreams today.
Kyle Cartwright recently graduated with distinction from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln’s Music Teacher Education Program. He has taught in a variety of Nebraska schools as a student teacher, including Waverly Public Schools, Lincoln Southwest High School, Lux Middle School, McPhee Elementary School, as well as many others. Kyle had the unique opportunity to work with the Nebraska Arts Council as an intern last spring and was hired full-time for the following summer. Stemming from that opportunity, he is now working part-time as the executive assistant at the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. He also teaches privately and holds other jobs as a server and bartender. He is getting married in May and is looking forward to heading into his career as a full- time music educator in the fall.