Music, teaching drive English major

February 22, 2008

When a choir performs, many voices become one. For alto Katy Griepentrog ’08, singing in the College Choir is a transportive act, one that takes her from a world that is becoming increasingly silent due to advancing hearing loss, into a place where song comes from all angles. Surrounded by dozens of voices and accompanied by the piano, Griepentrog can hear the music rise up within her.

“The harmonies blend together,” she says of singing with the College Choir. “For me, music is pure enjoyment.”

Griepentrog, a Glen Burnie native, is looking forward to singing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in the College Choir collaboration with the Columbia Orchestra in Howard County, scheduled for April 5 and 6. Her father is the executive director of the Columbia, Md., Orchestra.

“My dad is one of the reasons I love music,” Griepentrog says of her father, who spent 20 years traveling the world in the Army Field Band. Her parents, both teachers, raised her with a love of music that now runs so deeply in her veins, she can hear tunes in her head simply by reading the notes on paper.

Griepentrog began singing at age 3. At 6, she started piano lessons, and by 8, she was learning the flute. Upon failing a routine audio test as a teenager, Griepentrog discovered that, because of a genetic hearing loss, and has only 30-percent hearing. She chose McDaniel, in part, for its program in American Sign Language.

Her main reason for attending the College, however, is its Education program. The English major and Secondary Education minor always wanted to teach kids how to read. She is currently student teaching full-time with struggling readers at Northwest Middle School.

“It’s one of the most rewarding internship experiences because I do everything: planning, teaching and classroom management,” she says. “It puts you through your paces to make sure you’re ready for teaching as a career.”

“She just lights up and comes alive when she’s talking about her students,” says Education Coordinator Susan Travetto. “You know when somebody is intrinsically a teacher, and she’s a natural.”

Students who plan to teach upon graduation major in their subject area and minor in Education. They earn teacher certification upon completion of the coursework and teaching experience.

Besides teaching full-time, Griepentrog plays the flute and is a board member for Chamber Music on the Hill. Music is who she is, she says, without being what she does.

Yet Griepentrog can’t help but smile broadly as she talks about the day when she’ll be onstage with the College Choir, supported by her family, surrounded by music coming from every direction.

“McDaniel has a way of reaching out and working with other organizations, and I’m looking forward to what happens through this collaboration,” she says.

The first College Choir/Columbia Orchestra concert is at 7:30 p.m. April 5 at the Rouse Center in Columbia. The second is at 3 p.m. April 6. For information, click here: