What Katie Wreede does is FANTASTIC! She offers musicians of all ages a “way in” to a relationship with their instruments and the mysteries of composition. Her natural style and clear presentation invites players to use their imagination, listen carefully, observe and respond to what they hear. She encourages improvisation as they learn to enjoy the whole process. I highly recommend Katie’s unique and creative music making for anyone interested in becoming a truer musician!
Sara Usher, Director, Glenview Strings and General Manager, ReallyTerribleStringOrchestra
Katie Wreede has rare talent. She encourages young musicians to explore their own creative musical ideas in a nurturing yet professional environment.
Jay Lehmann, Department Head, Laney College and Music Director and Conductor of Berkeley Youth Symphony
Katrina’s workshop with the 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students was a dynamic, exciting, hands on musical experience. Katie had the students actively engaged in improvisation and composition that stayed with us all for months! We thoroughly enjoyed having Katie come to our school. Her personality, sense of humor, and musical expertise made this a wonderful workshop that we would love to do again.
Jill Teas, Stanley British Primary School, Denver, CO
Your work with the Longfellow kids was fantastic. I have tried teaching composition every year, and I am never as successful as you were. The kids actually learned something about composition that they could take away with them, and they always looked forward to your visits. You have a very methodical approach that I admire and haven’t been able to duplicate!
Jan Davis, Music Teacher, Longfellow Arts Magnet Middle School, Berkeley
Katrina Wreede worked with my string students at Albany High School as a guest composer. With her enthusiastic and imaginative guidance, the high school students had a great time cooperatively creating their own compositions. The students also performed their compositions on a school concert. Katrina Wreede is an inspiring teacher for string players and composers of all ages.
Beth Snelling, Music Teacher, Albany High School
While co-teaching an improvisation class with Katie this past July, my mind was opened to a new way of approaching composition. Katie supports free expression while introducing creative, unique ideas. The atmosphere she fosters is warm and supportive. I could feel the students’ excitement and focus learning that something challenging was within their grasp.
Nora Nausbaum, Sierra Jazz Society “Jazz Camp” Co-director
I’m honored to have seen Katie work her magic with the our string students at Crowden’s Alternative Styles String Camp. Katie’s expertise, ease working with the students, and incredible musicianship are the perfect combination to give students an incredible, musical experience. Today’s music students learn plenty of the essentials of music like note reading and discipline, but rarely do they have the opportunity to really ‘create’ music – something that Katie develops within them beautifully.
Daryl Silberman, Knilling Master Clinician
A very creative way to meet curriculum standards and still maintain rehearsal flow. The students were proud of their work. A very positive musical experience.
Jill Hendrix, Washington HS, San Francisco
Group composition is THE PERFECT way to go for my middle school age group. The students were surprised and empowered by the fact that they could make music by making decisions, that composing was a practical medium with tools they could relate to. This is a superb project for school musicians!
Madeline Prager, Martin Luther King Middle School, Berkeley
Music is another way to transport your mind to another world, or in this case, to space. Today, I had a trio from Composing Together visit my band. The setting of the spectacular performance took place at my band room, the Panther Playhouse. The day they performed was on a school day on October 2, 2015. Although there were only 3 performers, but their music made up for the everything else. The instruments they used, and the songs they played were very unique and original which was amazing.
The members of the trio were Beth Vandervennet, Martha Stoddard, and Katrina Wreede. They taught us what motifs, foreground, middle ground, and background are in a piece of music when they came to our class. The purpose of this was because they would help our band compose our own music pieces which we would need to include those. Katrina used the example of drawing a horse to help us understand what motifs, foreground, middle ground, and background are. The instruments that were played were flute, cello, and viola. . The bow belonging to Ms, Wreede was very unique because it was purple; a color I have never seen on a bow before.
Steve Matthews, an astronomer, also visited our class, and gave us very detailed and intriguing information about the planets in our solar system, showed us pictures of volcanoes, Mickey Mouse crater on Mercury which was 65 miles in diameter, and many more. Steve also talked about stars and what heat and ice planets are made of. Additionally, from his powerpoint, I learned that heat planets are made of 90% hydrogen and helium; while ice planets are made from 20% of the same elements. Something he said that was very fascinating was, “ Diversity in music, how much more diverse can you get? If we didn’t have any diversity, we wouldn’t have any creativity.”
The first piece of music played was Pleasant written by Katrina Wreede. The music composition started with her plucking her strings in a staccato way, and followed by the flute playing high-pitched notes in which Marty holds. The cello has piano, staccato notes that she occasionally plucks. Next, they all joined in on the melody with crescendos and decrescendos. Additionally, through all my years of being the audience of performances, I have noticed that all instrumentalists tap their feet in an pianissimo way to keep their beat according to the song.
The second piece was named Walking in Space by Marty. The key signature was in ⅝, which was new for me. An intelligent way Marty inserts the drum part in the musical piece without using the drum is to bang on the wood of their instruments. By doing this, they can create a sound close to the drum which was very creative. This piece started with all the instruments playing together with the addition of the violin playing the melody when it comes. The flute is the instrument that combines the different sections of the piece together.
The third piece was Sounds to Space composed by Katrina Wreede. This was a very dramatic and suspenseful piece filled with staccato and legato notes. The flute was the foreground; the cello was Earth (motif), and the violin was the engine(motif). The definition of motif I heard was that it was a little nugget of music that you can really heed. I observed that Katrina was using about the same notes, but adding different touches(dynamics) to it like: staccato, plucks, up and down, etc.. A fascinating thing I perceived about how Katrina holds her instrument when she isn’t using it is that she holds it between her chest and underarm area; so it’s steady, and she doesn’t have to pick it up from the ground when she needs it to use it. After they have finished the song, Katrina explained that composing music was, “It’s not magic. It’s making choices.”
The final piece was Blue Cabbage Stew was written by Katrina Wreede. This piece was blue jazzy and it sounds like stew mushing together. The tempo was forte, and the cellist stamps her feet in the first part of the motif. Furthermore, Katrina adds a new twist to cabbage everytime it pops up. Lastly, Katrina gave us some background information on the time frame it took her to re-arrange and come up with new versions of Blue Cabbage Stew . She said that the STS took her 3 days of working really hard, the LT(original version) took her 3 months, and the new version which totaled up to the time of 3 months! The theme of the song required thinking to herself such as, “How cool could I make cabbage sound?”
Some observations I’ve noticed about the musicians is that the performers were all optimistic, and by that I mean they don’t get bothered that the audience asked many questions, and kept them from playing their piece. I also observed that the performers didn’t get nervous when playing a solo part.
A part of the performance I really liked was when the performers spoke about music, their experiences, etc. Their words were very inspirational and awesome. There were a lot of quotes I really like, but the ones I like the most are about how music changed their lives. Marty said, “ I really like the colors music paints. It is painting with sound.” When she said this, I automatically thought of Colors of the Wind for some reason. Beth described music as, “Catching spark of sound/music.” Finally, Katrina takes parts of her past related to music to the surface as she says, “All of my friends were musicians, and all the musicians I played with became my friends.” Something else she said that is connected to science is, “Music changes the shape of your brain, not physics, etc.” There was nothing I didn’t really like about the performance.
In conclusion, I had the most flabbergasting time being an audience at the performance, and I’ve learned a lot about space and how to compose a song. I am very excited to perform our band’s original composition, and I hope our audience will be as interested as I was when the Composing trio played for our band. I am so glad I was there to listen to them play their original songs, and I had a phenomenal time!!!
My Concert Report, by 8th grade band student
I didn’t seriously realize how incredibly lucky I was to take a class with Katie until I left home and went to college. Now I’m constantly told that I was really fortunate to have a teacher of Katie’s talents. I have many friends who are composition majors at Oberlin, and I was surprised to learn that many of them had never had any formal coaching in composition and most of them had never had their music performed live. We got to have performances with professional musicians and Katie’s guidance through every piece. She gave us constructive criticism without ever making me feel like I was being restricted in any way. I learned so much from Katie and she most definitely played a large role in furthering my education. I doubt that I would have pursued composing had it not been for Katie’s class.
Erika O., former Composer in the Schools (American Composers Forum) student
Composing with Katie was one of the most formative experiences of my high school years. Being asked to look at music as a composer developed not only my creativity and musicality, but also responsibility, organization and leadership abilities. I was asked to meet deadlines, have legible copies for my performers, run a rehearsal, field questions and articulate my meanings. Her undying support of my ideas built up my self-confidence and love of music.
Ariel W., former Composer in the Schools (American Composers Forum) student
I learned a lot of people make money by composing.
Tyus C., Hercules High School Composing Together participant