Faith and Fiddles: Orchestra Teacher and Violinist Katelyn Cashwell

Katelyn Cashwell grew up in Hudsonville, Michigan, and began playing violin in 4th grade. While in high school, she had the opportunity to perform with the Unity Christian High School at the Michigan Music Conference and teach under Sara VandePol Jager. After graduating in 2008, she went on to attend Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education and studied conducting under Robert Nordling; John Varineau, former conductor of the Grand Rapids Symphony; Dr. Joel Navarro; and Dr. Tiffany Engle. While at Calvin College, she performed with the Calvin College Orchestra, with whom she toured frequently, including to China in 2010. In 2017, Katelyn received her Masters in Music Education from Vandercook College of Music in Chicago, IL.

Katelyn moved to Fayetteville, NC in 2013 and currently teaches at Massey Hill Classical High School. Professionally, she performs with the Snyder Memorial Baptist Church orchestra, as well as at weddings and private events. She also teaches violin and viola privately from her home.

Katelyn is married to her husband of almost 2 years, Ryan Cashwell. In her free time, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her family and friends.

3 Things making your life richer and why: Without my faith, my life would not be rich at all. During such uncertain times, God is the one thing I can trust to stay the same. 

My husband makes my life richer. He has always been my biggest supporter when it comes to my art. He comes to every performance for me individually and for my students. He also helps me enjoy life. We live very close to Downtown Fayetteville and he is always encouraging me to enjoy the local shops and restaurants.

My students make my life so rich! They are constantly asking questions and want to try new things. They work so hard at everything I put in front of them. They keep me laughing every day and make me want to come to work. 

Local Artist you admire: While they are not local, they have begun to visit North Carolina quite a bit. The Moxie Strings is a fiddle group based out of Michigan. They travel around the country teaching students fiddle pieces by rote and how to improvise. I met them when I was a student and have had them come work with my students here in North Carolina. What I love most about The Moxie Strings is that they are able to help students open up. I have seen students who I struggled with having them play in class, play in front of an audience of parents! They are amazing!

Current artistic experiments: I am currently working with my students to prepare them for a life of performance. One of the ways I am doing this is by teaching them to play in alternate clefs. A lot of the time, as a professional musician, you will be handed music that is not written for your instrument. By teaching them these alternate clefs, I can help my students be able to play anything handed to them. I also try to have them play some sort of syncopated music during the year because a lot of the pop tunes couples want for their wedding are all syncopated. Anything I do with my students lately has been to prepare them for the outside world of music.

Personal practice informs your teaching or visa versa: I have learned through my professional career that the music I play now is not like the music I played in orchestra in school. One of my favorite experiences in high school was playing in our musical pit. It taught me the unexpected moments in music and how to watch a conductor. I love that I am able to give my students the same opportunity at Massey Hill Classical High School with our theatre department.

Favorite way to share artistic history with your students: I recently discovered the book Year of Wonder: Classical Music to Enjoy Day by Day by Clemency Burton-Hill. It has a classical music piece for each day of the year. Each morning, while students are entering the classroom, I have the piece for the day playing. We then read the excerpt from the book. We have all learned about so many new pieces and I love when they come back to me and ask if we can play those pieces.

What do you want for your arts students? I want my students to feel loved and cared for. I want music to be a place where they feel safe. I want music to be a release for them. 

If you could teach anything using your art form what would it be? I love fiddle music! I love that most of the time it is taught by ear so students really have to listen to the music and figure it out. It also allows for creativity with improvisation. I could teach a whole class on fiddling and improvisation!

Flutist Sarah Busman Effervescently Talks Local Music & Arts Education

Sarah Busman is the Arts Education Manager for the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County, where her primary initiatives are Artists In Schools and Mini Grants. She is also the principal flutist of the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra. Prior to working at the Arts Council, Sarah taught at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke for 9 years, graduating many wonderful flutists, teachers, and scholars. She is the founder of Darkwater Festival, which celebrates women in music through scholarship, performance, and new music. Sarah holds a BM from Middle Tennessee State University and an MM from the Peabody Conservatory of Music. She lives in Fayetteville, NC with her husband Joshua Busman, her two little boys, Arthur and Simon, and her tripod hound dog Foster.

3 Things making your life richer & why

I love discovering the world through my two and four year old kids. They make me notice things that I would normally walk right by.

Being outside is something that gives me energy. I’ve tried my hand at vegetable gardening and love to root around in the dirt (pun intended).

Up until this year, I was in a position where listening to music *was* work (as a professor at UNCP). Now that I am in an office setting, I’ve rediscovered my love of listening to new albums in all genres.

Local artist you admire: At my job at the Arts Council, I meet so many artists. It’s tough to choose just one! One of the ways I personally relax is by doing cross-stitch, so I find Adrienne Trego’s work very inspiring! 

What is one of your current artistic experiments? I’ve shifted into a job where I meet lots of different artists in lots of different disciplines. I’m very interested in how to merge classical music with some of these other artistic disciplines. I have a friend in Charleston doing these amazing food and classical music pairings, and I could see something like that being really cool in Fayetteville!

How did your art practice change during the pandemic? The pandemic uniquely affected musicians who can’t wear masks while performing, so I went from performing 2-4 times a month to nothing for almost two years. Like many musicians, I enjoyed doing some collaborations online, but I shifted a lot of my energy to making educational videos for students to experience music while learning virtually. This led to an awesome set of videos with the Fayetteville Symphony that I did with my son called “Adventures with Arthur.” Doing those videos was a real stretch for us, but I’m proud of the result. 

Where do you practice your art? Describe your work space. Musicians focus on their performances, but the time before the performance is where we really practice our art. For most orchestral gigs, I get music 2 weeks before the performance in anticipation that I will intimately know my part by the time the first full rehearsal starts. For most gigs, we rehearse only twice as a full ensemble before a performance, so the practice part is really important. I often practice at home, but now that I work at the Arts Council I sometimes take breaks from reading grant proposals to play music in the basement for Ella the Elephant

How do you find your subject (next piece, idea, voice)? I make an effort to play new music and/or historical music by female and non-white composers. These composers are drastically overlooked in symphonic programming and much of the canonical writings about music, so I try to focus my energy there.

Advice to newer artists in your genre. Communicate honestly with yourself and the people around you about what you think is important. The list of important things won’t stay the same throughout your life, so shift as-needed. And your art won’t always be at the top of that list, and that’s totally ok.