Senior shows how practice makes perfect

Caitlin Ediger is turning her love of music into a promising career.

For Washburn University senior Caitlin Ediger, the phrase “practice makes perfect” has become the motto of her life.

“It is very hard work.  Oh my goodness, I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be,” Ediger admitted when discussing her major. 

Ediger is a Music Education major with a piano emphasis.  However, Ediger did not start off with this career in mind.  Originally, music was going to be her minor, not her major.

“I was going to do elementary education or speech pathology or something and then I decided ‘Oh, I’ll minor in music,’” said Ediger. “So I went in to audition, and Dr. Ding and Dr. Rivers talked to me about switching to a major instead, and I was like ‘I’m not sure.’”

Washburn music professor Shaoi-Li Ding would not give up that easily though.

“Dr. Ding invited me back to speak with her.  I went into her little office with my parents and she was talking to me about the music education program.  She said, ‘Go home and think about it.’  And I said, ‘OK, I will.’”

It didn’t take Ediger long to maker her decision though.

“I went back out of her office and I looked at my parents and I was like, ‘This is what I’m going to do.  I feel like this is a really good fit for me,’” said Ediger.  “I went back to her office and I was like, ‘This is what I want to do.  I want to do music education.’  And she was like, ‘Well, that was a really fast decision.’”

Since then, Ediger has had no regrets about her intended major. 

“I was really excited about it, and I hadn’t been excited about anything else,” said Ediger. “I felt like God had really called me to this area.”

Ediger choose a piano emphasis because she has displayed amazing talent with the instrument.  She first began playing piano when she was 5 at her parents urging.

“For years, I did not like piano at all, and I would sit at the piano and cry, but my parents made me stick with it, and after I got over this little hump, it’s been great,” said Ediger. “I love it.”

That much is obvious, as Ediger has constantly put this love to practice.  She consistently taught piano from her sophomore to senior year in high school and sporadically during her college years.  Several of her students have gone on to do well musically.

Outside of teaching piano, Ediger taught a five-day music camp with good friend Ruth Springer this past June and will teach again with Springer at Doxazo camp next week.

In explaining the music camp that she did this past June, Ediger had this to say, “We [Ediger and Springer] taught just basic theory and how to breathe properly, and sing properly, and how to match a pitch, and vowel shaping, and stuff like that.  It was fun.  It confirms my love of teaching.”

Ediger was inspired to teach by three influential women in her life: Dorothy Illif, director of the Cornerstone Family Schools choirs and madrigal group, Deo Gloria; Debby Packard, accompanist of the Cornerstone Family Schools senior choir; and her grandmother, Pat Reid.

“My grandma volunteers at an inner city school,” said Ediger”  One of the things she focuses on is a reading program.  I went with her one day to watch what she did.  I was just blown away with the impact she was making in these kid’s lives.  I remember being able to interact and read with some of the children. I loved it!”

That is not the only rewarding experience Ediger has had so far in regard to teaching.

“When I was out teaching preschool last semester, I was with a group of kids who didn’t know anything about music,” said Ediger.  “They didn’t know how to clap, they didn’t sing a lot either. I started out those first couple of weeks like, ‘What am I going to do with them?’”

Ediger didn’t give up on those children though.

“I just started teaching them some basic things like how to tap rhythm sticks and sing along with me. By the end of the semester, it finally started to click with them and they…were just so attentive and they were into what they were doing…I think that was really fulfilling to me, being able to see how…they started, from point A, to the end of the semester, where they understood…I really enjoyed that.”

However, Ediger has not just limited herself to teaching.  Ediger has been heavily involved in several ensembles and concerts at Washburn, including Vespers, the president’s concert and the mosaic concert.  She also preformed at the Kaufman Center for Performing Arts in Kansas City in May of 2014.  Outside of performing, Ediger has accompanied numerous Washburn University ensembles, as well as the Cornerstone Family Schools’ elementary and junior choirs.  One of Ediger’s favorite things to do is play in worship bands at church and at Christian Challenge.

As further proof of Ediger’s incredible work ethic, she has been able to maintain a 4.0 all throughout her college career, is a member of Phi Kappa Phi and won Most Outstanding Music Major Award spring of 2014.

When asked if she agreed that Ediger was hard working, Ann Marie Snook, chair of the music department, agreed whole-heartedly. 

“Very much so.  Very dedicated, very focused, very pleasant…she’s an outstanding student…and a good role model,” said Snook.  Ediger has worked for the music department in the music office as a student worker for the past two years and will be working there again this year.

Ediger will graduate in the fall of 2015 after a semester of student teaching.  Ediger began her studies at Washburn University in the fall of 2011 after she graduated from Cornerstone Family Schools spring of the same year.  She graduated in the same class as another Washburn University senior, Mollyanne Gibson, a Biology and Biochemistry major.

Ediger hopes to teach at the elementary level post-graduation, but is open to whatever comes her way next.

“I want to share how much I love music with my students,” said Ediger, even though she doesn’t know who they’ll be yet.