Pursuing the Path of Musician & Educator
Patrick Kerssen ’18
Music Education & Performance Major Gets One Step Closer to His Dreams
The adage, “do what you love; love what you do” could certainly sum up Patrick Kerssen’s approach to his future career. For the senior music education and performance major, building a life balancing the roles of professional musician and teacher would mean following his passions, and in the footsteps of his admired mentors.
Kerssen’s internship assisting Dr. Neil Wetzel, Moravian’s Music Department Chair and Director of Jazz Studies, took him near and far. This meant supporting Dr. Wetzel with the running of The Moravian University Music Institute Summer Jazz Camp and the SteelStacks High School Jazz Band, which Dr. Wetzel serves as Education Director. It also included a trip to Frydlant, Czech Republic to support Dr. Wetzel in directing the big band at the Karel Velebny Summer Jazz Workshop.
Good friend and fellow jazz musician Ron Bogart ’17 had completed the same internship the previous summer, which inspired Kerssen to approach Dr. Wetzel about the opportunity Kerssen saw as an important step toward his development as a music educator.
“All of these experiences aided in my growth as a musician, educator, and citizen of the world.” –Patrick Kerssen ’18
“I had been to the Czech Republic with Ron and Dr. Wetzel the previous summer, but only as a participant in the camp, and I wanted the additional experience working with the big band,” he says.
Before his internship, Kerssen admits he had no idea the amount of work that went into coordinating and directing jazz programs large and small.
“I never thought about organizing classes and ensembles for the camp, picking the proper music for your ensemble, and the logistics of getting music and equipment to concerts, rehearsals, and players. The internship forced me to look at all of these things and understand what exactly goes into creating my classroom experience.”
In addition to learning the administrative side of Dr. Wetzel’s responsibilities, Kerssen also had the pleasure of watching two of his original big band compositions performed by the big band at the Czech Republic workshop and the SteelStacks High School Jazz Band at Musikfest.
Working and playing alongside successful jazz musicians from different backgrounds exposed Kerssen to a variety of playing styles and strengthened his desire to pursue the path of musician and educator, he says.
“Seeing my professors—Skip Wilkins, my private piano teacher at Moravian, and Dr. Wetzel—do what they do and enjoy themselves immensely was a very positive experience for me. I also had a great time playing and helping younger players at the camp and with the SteelStacks band.”
As Kerssen looks ahead to life after graduation—attending graduate school, moving to a major city to play and teach jazz full time—he knows that this internship brought him one step closer to his dreams. “All of these experiences aided in my growth as a musician, educator, and citizen of the world,” Kerssen says.