SPOTLIGHT: Katie Sullivan


Age: 40 (what?! I feel like I’m still 12 inside!)





What’s your background in music?

I began picking out tunes on a mini keyboard my sister got for Christmas when I was 6 years old and my parents noticed that I had an ear for music and encouraged me to take piano lessons. A year later they bought a piano for me which they couldn’t really afford so that I could have a real piano to practice on. I took piano lessons until I was 15. I also sang in a children’s choir and did musical theatre in junior high. I never thought I would be a professional musician or teacher. I just played the piano and sang because I enjoyed it. I did not like performing but while in high school I also was encouraged by my youth pastor to join the high school worship band. 

I took general ed classes when I started at Hancock and asked God what He wanted me to do. The easiest classes were music and since I enjoyed them I majored in music and transferred to UC Santa Barbara into their music program as a vocal and piano major. After college I accepted a music position and taught 5th grade music and 16 choirs in my first two years of teaching. I started private piano and voice lessons, and have been consistently doing that since. 

What do you love most about it?

I love creating joyful beautiful sounds and putting emotion and feeling into the pieces that I play and sing. I love how corporately a group of people can participate in expressing themselves together with singing or playing and how much joy it brings to everyone. I know that people listening to music can experience joy, and I hope people can get joy from creating music too. Music is a language that God has given humans to express themselves and create beauty to glorify Him. 

How do you encourage your students to be creative in music?

First and foremost I want them to participate. I don’t care so much about the product of what they can create. I want to make a safe place where students can feel comfortable trying new things and expressing themselves. I try new things in front of them, I make mistakes in front of them, and move forward and show them that making mistakes is part of the process of creating beautiful music. 

Are there other areas where you exercise creativity?

I was raised with a sketchpad in hand and although it didn’t come naturally, I loved drawing and painting and it brought joy to me. I love teaching art lessons in my kids’ classrooms. I also have helped as a vocal director and assistant director for our district’s musical theatre for the past few years. Since my kids were little, we have had dance parties. Mostly they are impromptu, but some have been choreographed! 

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