Chelsea Coventry '12

Chelsea Coventry '12

Graduate Student

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Music and Philosophy Double Major

Chelsea is working on a master’s degree in music with an emphasis on music theory at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Are you doing what you envisioned yourself doing while an undergraduate student?

I came to Knox thinking I would study neuroscience and eventually attend medical school. I always thought I would keep music as a recreational activity, and maybe minor in it. However, when I started taking music theory classes, I fell in love with the academic, rather than strictly performance, which is an aspect of music that, until that point, I had never considered. I am so glad that I took those first few music classes and gave myself the freedom to change my mind, as now I can't imagine myself being as happy with any other field.

How has your Knox experience made an impact on your career?

I am still working on figuring out my career, but I will say that I am glad I had the chance to double major in philosophy, as that academic discipline teaches you how to think about difficult concepts in multiple ways to find the best answer or explanation. In music theory, I am often finding multiple musical analyses that may fit a particular passage, and need to look at the context of the piece as a whole in order to find the best explanation for what is "going on" at that particular point in the music. Studying philosophy really sharpened my skills in this sort of analysis, and the critical thinking skills I gained from this study can easily be applied to my chosen graduate school discipline. I am also grateful to have been able to work with Professor Brandon Polite in the philosophy department, as he has a keen interest in music as well, and he helped me understand how I could use my studies in philosophy to enhance my musical understanding.

What’s the most important thing you learned at Knox outside the classroom?

I learned about leadership and pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. I came to Knox as a very shy and reserved person, and I remain pretty quiet by nature. However, I forced myself to get involved, and held leadership positions in several organizations, including Sigma Alpha Iota women's music fraternity, Newman Club, and String Ensemble. It could be difficult at times to be in charge of a group or an event, but I learned that I am capable of leading with confidence and working to make a positive impact with groups I care about.

Describe a memorable class, experience, or professor and the impact it had on you.

Thinking back on my Knox experience, I remember fondly my time with the String Ensemble and particularly the Cello Choir, led by Carolyn Suda. These groups were student driven, requiring devotion and effort by all the participants in order for us to have successful rehearsals and performances, which made them that much more meaningful. The Cello Choir consisted of an even smaller group of people who bonded over the music we were learning to the point of scheduling extra independent practices for ourselves, as we found ourselves devoted to making the music the best it could be. After all, we chose it and we were learning it, aided by the careful mentorship and teaching of Carolyn, our instructor. Working so hard together, we became a close-knit group even outside of the rehearsal hall, and I was glad to be able to write my composition class final piece to be performed by my friends, this group.