student image

Photo by Matt D’Annunzio

Kate Morics ’14


Hometown: Redlands, California

Who I was when I got to Reed: I was going to be an anthropologist who played violin on the side. I took a music theory class because I thought it would help with my violin playing. The next semester I switched majors.

How Reed changed me: I realized what I actually love doing, and had the freedom to work on projects that actively interested me. I have become a more confident, articulate person. 

What I would tell prospies: Reedies are enthusiastic about learning. Most of us were among the smartest in our high schools and then we get here and everybody is brilliant. Your professors are going to expect more out of you and let you know if you’re not giving all that you can. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It took me a while to realize just how many support systems are in place just waiting for us to use.

Influential professor: Prof. Mark Burford [music 2007–] expects so much of his students, but gives just as much back. The papers you get back from him are covered in blue ink, and they are always constructive comments. It must take him as long to edit it as it took me to write it.

Favorite spot on campus: The collective mood on campus changes drastically when the sun comes out. Everyone heads to the Great Lawn with a book and a blanket. It’s just the best.

Cool stuff I did: I had nearly every library job a student can have. I played violin in the Reed Orchestra and in chamber ensembles, and my string trio would occasionally play Beethoven in the middle of commons during lunch.

Scholarships, awards, or financial aid: Reed was pretty generous. It gave me more aid than any other school I applied to.

Adviser: Prof. Morgan Luker [music 2010–]

Thesis: “An Ethnographic Examination of Ideology in a Nonprofit Music Education Program”

What it’s about: I did fieldwork with a new nonprofit that brings music education to underserved schools to close the opportunity gap. My thesis outlines how the program, and specifically the students’ engagement with the music, achieves these goals and proposes new ways of conceptualizing the value and function of music.

What it’s really about: Why teaching third graders how to play Jingle Bells is a good thing to do.

Thesis expanded: The debate about music education’s place in the public school curriculum centers on the divide between the vocational and the liberal. But music straddles both worlds. It has the intellectual stimulus of a liberal education and the spatial reasoning and technical effects of the vocational. Nonprofit organizations that transcend the divide focus on using music to teach teamwork, self-respect and self-motivation.

What’s next: Serving in Houston as an AmeriCorps Teaching Fellow with Citizen Schools, a nonprofit that works with underserved middle schools.