Student Spotlight: Music therapy major Kendra Keesee

Nykia Burdine


Kendra Keesee is a music therapy major with a focus in piano. She has come from Nashville, Tenn., to pursue her major at The W. In her turn in the spotlight, Keesee gave us a look into her piano history and explained why she is so far from home.

Q: How long have you played the piano?

A: “Since the first grade, so about 15 years. I’ve only been taking it seriously for about five though, which is not a nice chunk.”

Q: Why did you choose to leave Nashville to come to The W?

A: “They didn’t have a music therapy program at any public school in Tennessee, so my piano teacher, Dr. Olgaharris, told me that Dr. Mortyakova, her daughter, was head of the music department here. I auditioned in December of 2013, graduated in May 2014 and was here in August 2014.”

Q: Which do you prefer: small-town Columbus or big-city Nashville?

A: “People think that Nashville is big, but it’s just one giant circle. It’s not too big if you know where you’re going. But I prefer Nashville. Things don’t close as early, and there’s more to do. A 30-minute drive in Nashville feels like an hour in Columbus.”

Q: What do you plan to do with your degree once you finish college?

A: “I really want to work with children who have autism and differential disabilities. Right now, I’m doing my pre-clinicals at a nursing home. If I like it once I finish, maybe I’ll work in a nursing home. I’m not too picky about where or who I work with. I really want to travel all over the United States and just get jobs everywhere.”

Q: What do you do to prepare for recitals?

A: “If I have a piece prepared, I’m going to try and play it in studio class every chance I get, which is every Wednesday at three. At the end of each month, there is a recital hour where we perform, and students in the music department come and watch. Playing for people is really the best way to prepare for a recital.”

Q: Who are some of your inspirations?

A: “The people I look up to are the ones who are confident and don’t care if they make a mistake. All they say is, ‘I lived.’ People like that include my piano teacher and principal back home, and also my best friend Lana. She’s doing really big things back home.”

Q: What inspired you to start playing the piano?

A: “You know how you’re sitting at a piano in church and you’re just banging on keys? I remember doing that when I was really young. When I was in first grade, my mom and I were coming out of a parent-teacher conference, and I heard someone playing the piano. I said, ‘Ooh, I wanna play piano!’ I just said it and didn’t think my mom was going to actually be like, ‘OK!’ But she did.”

Q: Do you have any advice for students who are thinking of pursuing a career in music?

A: “Dedication. Be dedicated. People switch majors all the time, thinking, ‘Oh! Being a music major is so easy! You play music all day!’ It’s not that easy, unfortunately. Be prepared to be uncomfortable, but know that it’s all worth it in the end. You’re gonna be proud of your major if you work hard and know you’ve put in the hours. It’s a beautiful major.”