Spotlight On…Nate Olson ☆

TC is nothing if not a hotbed of research, teaching, academic production and critique. Nate Olson, a Music Education doctoral student, has spent the last two years at TC eagerly soaking up as much of this as possible.

Nate is particularly interested in multicultural and community music. He chose TC in part because the faculty was so interested, supportive, and encouraging of this work, which is virtually nonexistent in many music education programs. He says he was “pleased” and a little “shocked” at how progressive the Music Ed faculty members were in accepting new ideas that challenged traditional methods of doing music education. Nate is also a Geffen Fellow. As such, he works closely with Professor Randall Allsup. Nate appreciates that this relationship has allowed him to get a close look at the work of a professor; he reports that his writing skills have improved dramatically as a result of his close study of what is required to publish in professional journals.

Nate especially appreciates that his classes give him the freedom to explore the subjects that particularly interest him. The Program in Music Education allows for the choice of several classes outside the core requirements, and Nate has pursued electives in ethnomusicology and anthropology. The amount of flexibility TC offers can be one of its greatest strengths but also a challenge for some students: They must take it upon themselves to shape what they get out of their diverse pursuits. For students who make thoughtful choices, TC is “the best place to be.” Nate remarks that TC’s faculty members have been quite helpful in finding ways to focus and channel his energy.

The concert with Liyana, an Afro-fusion group from Zimbabwe, which was sponsored by the Program in Music Education, as well as an event featuring North Korean pianist Cheol Woong Kim were highlights of Nate’s last year at TC.  He also appreciates TC’s community; he, his wife, and two sons have made friends across the campus and in family housing.

Nate ultimately hopes to be a university professor and incorporate folk music into his work. Perhaps most importantly, Nate says that his time at TC has taught him “a lot about myself,” particularly “how to be a teacher in a lot of different capacities…I’ve had great examples [here].”