Kathy Bohstedt, the Print Education Consultant for West Music, received the AOSA Industry Service Award at the 2017 Professional Development Conference in Fort Worth, Texas. Hers may be the voice you hear if you call West Music looking for the perfect materials, instruments, or props for your students, your programs, and your budget. She specializes in previewing, selecting, and recommending printed materials, including music and children’s trade books. She researches selections for the West Music catalog and helps to choose the fabulous resources we find at our conventions. She calls our levels instructors to make sure the required materials and resources are available for the sites where West Music serves as a vendor. Judy Pine told me, “What I value most about Kathy Bohstedt, is her true interest in helping teachers find the product that is right for their classroom. Her gentle nature is genuine and her knowledge of print materials is amazing.”

Kathy has truly lived the truth of her own advice to music teachers everywhere:

Attend conferences, workshops, and teacher training courses whenever you can and be open to new or different ideas. You will stretch and grow as a musician and teacher and get that needed spark of refreshment and enthusiasm in your attitude and teaching. Your students will benefit from this.

After graduating from Luther College, it was Kathy’s commitment to life-long learning that led her to attend summer courses including traveling to Michigan to study folk dance with Phyllis Weikart. It also led her to take an Introduction to Orff Schulwerk with Barbara Grenoble, and that was a huge turning point. “This is it,” Kathy said as she reminisced about how the Schulwerk had a view of the whole child and opened diverse avenues for student engagement with the music. For Kathy, the general music of her childhood and early years of teaching were a traditional “sit and sing” model. Today, she still raves about how the Schulwerk changed her classroom into a vibrant and active space, “Music class was always a surprise” because she had so many engaging possibilities, with movement, instruments, poetry, stories, and improvisation.

Kathy took Level One with Jane Frazee, Arvida Steen, and Mary Goetze at the University of Illinois in Champagne. She followed them to Hamline University to take Level Two, adding Jos Wuytack as one of her mentors. For Level Three, she returned to Hamline to study with Jane Frazee and with Richard Gill. She took Kodaly, Level One, at Hamline with Ann Kay and Lamar Robertson. “This made me look deeply at the literature and helped me choose quality folk material, selecting the right song to teach different concepts, and organizing my program” sequentially, and with intention. Kathy brought this caliber of training to her students for 18 years, and has continued to share it with us.

Kathy speaks with fondness of the many friends she has made through her work at West Music, especially the many teachers she has served. Over the years, she has seen many changes in the world of music education, all over the country. But one thing never changes, and that is the gift that music teachers bring to their students. Kathy mused, “Just remember what music has meant to you, and if you love the music you’ll find a way to instill a love in the kids. The kids have so many special needs and come from diverse backgrounds. Music is one place where every body can come together and transcend those differences. It lifts the spirit, and music can be the common language. Don’t be discouraged: keep the passion!”

Thank you, Kathy Bohstedt, for your passion!