On the train ride from Salzburg, Austria to Sopron, Hungary, I sat down with one of the CSU Faculty Chamber Winds’ oboists, CSU alumni Shane Werts (’13, Music Ed), to talk about the past year, the tour, and his future as a musician.
Shane spent the 2013-14 school year teaching band and choir at Gypsum Creek Middle School in Eagle County, Colo., and really enjoyed the experience. “I grew a lot last year – being in front of 40 kids everyday pushed my maturity and leadership. Even teaching middle school concepts, my musicianship increased through demonstrations on my instrument, and daily practice after school.”
During his time in Gypsum, Shane knew that he wanted to continue his studies, this time in oboe performance. In Jan. and Feb. of 2014, he auditioned at Cleveland Institute of Music, University of Cincinnati – College-Conservatory of Music, Eastman School of Music, Indiana University, and University of Iowa.
During our conversation, Shane reflected on the audition process, noting that some schools had a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, while others were much more intense. “A few schools had ‘stress free’ zones with coloring books and conversation between those auditioning, while others required complete silence.”
Shane challenged himself to keep nerves in check, especially the weekend he had three auditions – Rochester, Cincinnati, and Cleveland – in a row.
It is apparent that this delightful and unassuming CSU grad kept it together as incredibly, he was accepted to all five schools, ultimately selecting Indiana for his Master’s in Oboe Performance. “In the end, after considering the teachers and financials, the feel of the audition experience really influenced my decision.”
Prior to the CSU Faculty Chamber Winds’ tour, Shane had not been out of the country and jumped at the chance to play. “The trip has been awesome! Everyone on this tour are people I look up to, and I had really enjoyed playing with the ensemble on the Mozart and Rossini pieces during my senior year.” “It’s an honor to be here,” he added.
Additionally, Shane recognized that master’s students are expected to be productive during the summer. “Everyone seems to be at summer festivals, and I’m playing on a tour in Europe, it’s important.”
Starting with his decision to major in Music Ed, people associated with CSU were an important influence. “In high school, I didn’t have a clue, I was pretty lost, but I really respected my first private teacher and my high school teacher. Erik Johnson (now Assistant Professor of Music Education at CSU) was always so happy and that inspired me. John Hermanson (CSU ’08, Master of Music, Conducting/Music Education) really helped me figure out where to go.”
Lessons prompted by experiences at Colorado State University are prominent in Shane’s story. “At CSU, I learned that it is important to be a humble person because everyone starts somewhere. I never made an all-state band or orchestra in high school, and seeing [fellow student] Tony Fredrico accepted to the navy band was motivating because Tony didn’t even start playing until high school. I also remember being at the national double reed convention and saying to Dr. Moody (professor of double reeds and theory), ‘Those people all play better than me, but I can do better than that.’ It became an indicator of what to strive for.”
Looking ahead to life at Indiana University, Shane expects a big department to be very different. “I’ve heard it is competitive, although the oboe teacher fosters a friendly studio environment.”
After talking to Shane, I have no doubt that this CSU grad will succeed, even flourish, at the graduate level. He mentioned that through multiple summer jobs, he’s always paid for his own instruments and equipment. This past summer he bought a car, a gouger (the most expensive oboe tool which thins tube cane, the first step in making reeds), and saved enough rent for the entire next year.
“I’ve enjoyed working with Shane,” chimed in Gary Moody, who had been quietly listening to our conversation. “He was one of those students who came in every week sounding better, which you can’t always say about every student.”
Shane’s reaction to his CSU experience is very positive. “I learned how to teach, became proficient on my instrument, had many performance opportunities, and was tenor saxophone section leader in Marching Band. And at CSU, Dr. Moody is where it is at,” Shane enthused about his teacher.
“CSU is a great place to start and grow, and it is getting even better. I would go there again for sure…if I had to do it again, I would choose CSU, hands down!”
Best wishes Shane!
~ posted by Jennifer Clary