PSU Music Education Major helps HHS Orchestra

Benji Keeler, Reporter

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Otto Kuehrmann playing the stand up bass in an orchestra concert. Kuehrmann has recently graduated from PSU with his major in Music Education. (Submitted by Otto Kuehrmann)

This student teacher is pursuing his dreams with a career in music.

Otto Kuehrmann is a 24 year old former college student, graduating from Penn State University on Saturday, May 5th, 2018.  Kuehrmann, who wants to be a public school teacher, is turning to music to achieve this goal. He’s a student teacher at HHS, and helps conduct the orchestra.

Kuehrmann has recently finished his sixth, and last, year at PSU, majoring in Music Education, and minoring in Music Tech. As apart of Music Education, Kuehrmann is required to take Conducting 1 and 2.

“I love conducting. It’s like a chance to learn a brand new instrument from scratch. It’s completely unlike learning another instrument,” said Kuehrmann.

Kuehrmann started coming to Hershey to help conduct in February of the 2017-18 school year, leading the orchestra in warm ups and through several pieces of music. “As a conductor, you just want to be the best musician that you can be,” said Kuehrmann.

While working with the orchestra, the PSU graduate also made connections with the students through conducting.

“He’s very passionate about conducting,” said junior Ann Pham, who plays violin in orchestra. “He’s very enthusiastic.”

Kuehrmann would help and work alongside HHS orchestra director Gregory Woodbridge.

“Mr. Kuehrmann grew in leaps and bounds throughout his time with our orchestra,” said Woodbridge.

Freshman cellist Anja Vogel believes Kuehrmann’s input was helpful.

“I think he picked it up really quickly and did great on teaching us individually during lessons and as a class during orchestra,” said Vogel. “The orchestra definitely benefited from his assistance to Mr. Woodbridge.”

Musicians and conductors such as Leonard Bernstein, Gustavo Dudamel, Jaco Pastorius,  Between The Buried And Me, and Safety Fire are just a few of the inspirations Kuehrmann has in his life.

But it was his older cousin who got him started in music. “He and his father played guitar, and they were huge influences on me. I wanted to play guitar. I was around 4 or 5, that’s when I started getting involved with music,” said Kuehrmann. “I wasn’t really any good at it, but it was fun.”

Kuehrmann plays the stand up bass, the electric bass, and drums. He uses his musical talents for conducting, playing classical music, and when playing electric bass with his band, Palmlines. “It was one of those ‘knows a guy who knows a guy’ thing. They said that they were doing a kinda post rock and indie type thing, and I love all that stuff so I went to the guy’s house and we jammed,” said Kuehrmann.

Palmlines have been together since the fall of 2015. They have since released an album called Get In Line, Lucy.

“At this point we’ve been playing so much together over the years, that we’re all just good friends,” said Kuehrmann. “We aren’t trying to tour the world or anything like that. It’s just a beautiful experience that i get to share with my friends.”

“Playing with Palmlines, it’s just the energy. It’s all about the energy,” said Kuehrmann. “That’s not to say I don’t use my musical ability with Palmlines, but when I’m playing a show with Palmlines, it’s all about how much energy we can have in that moment.”

Music is a big part of the college graduate’s life. Kuehrmann believes that one of the most important aspects of music is listening. “I think I’ve been enjoying listening to music the most. Because when you’re playing music, you’re listening to music. When you’re conducting, you’re listening to music. When you’re not doing either of those things, but you’re still listening to music, you’re listening to music” said Kuehrmann. “Listening is the most important part of music to me. If I’m playing music and not listening, am I really making good music?”

Thursday, May 3rd, was Kuehrmann’s last day of student teaching orchestra classes. But the student teacher will be conducting for the May Orchestra Concert on the 11th.

If you want to get involved with music, you should give it a shot. “People are so scared that they’re not good musicians and that they’ll never be a good musician,” said Kuerhmann, “that they just never get an instrument and never play around with it. If you want to be a classical musician, take lessons”

“Music isn’t about being good,” said Kuehrmann. “Music is about doing what you love; playing music.”