UW-Whitewater junior Grace Caine is majoring in music education, but she says music itself is what prepared her for the challenge and hard work of college. “It taught me a lot about myself,” she says. “It taught me about my work ethic, about what I’m strong in–and what I’m not. It’s taught me about school and even about my relationships.”
For the third year in a row, the Lowell, Wisconsin native is a Council Scholarship recipient, and her achievements showcase the boost that the extra help has provided. Grace belongs to a university faith community, Warhawk Catholic. She’s a member of the UW-Whitewater Marching Band frontline. She belongs to the school organization that helps future music educators find their way into the professional world. On top of all of that, she’s president of the Jazz Education Network, a role that has been as educational as any class. “I’ve learned so much from jazz professionals who have come (on campus) and during the virus via Zoom,” she says. “It’s also taught me a lot about how to run an organization.” Grace schedules guest artists to come to campus to perform and teach. Last school year she also oversaw the creation of UW-Whitewater’s first swing band.
Oh. And she’s also President of the UW-Whitewater Saxophone Club.
Grace says the Council’s scholarship funding is not only being put to beneficial use; it’s also very well timed.
“My family has a family business, and all family businesses took a hit (during COVID). When I needed the financial help the most, the Council was there for me,” she says. “My mobility training and so many things that I didn’t know about in high school, the Council helped me with. I owe a lot of my success to the Council.”
You could say the Council has made an excellent investment in Grace. So, too, did her high school band teacher. That’s who saw Grace in the band room every day whenever her schedule allowed. After school, too. Practicing the music the band was performing. Perfecting it, really, to the point that the director noticed that, too.
“I would sit in the band room and just practice,” Grace says. “The band director finally said, ‘we need to get you some new music!’” And that’s what she did. And then more. Grace’s father played sax and so, too, did her older and younger brothers. “I loved ensemble playing with my older brother and my little brother. And I started listening to classical saxophone in eighth grade.”
While other students her age were listening to Justin Bieber, her obsession was classical sax player Otis Murphy, the youngest person to attain faculty status at Indiana University School of Music. “I fell in love with his sound and with all the pieces that he played,” Grace remembers. “And then I started playing more challenging music. Then band camp came at Whitewater and then the sax instructor here got me to where I am now in college.”
While the education-teaching portion of Grace’s curriculum is demanding, so too is the music scholarship. Take Jury Performances, for example. Grace calls them “milestones in your degree.” These are small performances with high stakes: The student plays and discusses pieces in front of music education faculty members. Jury shows require the student to sight read instrumental and vocal pieces. Grace’s retinitis pigmentosa has placed her in a position to not only help her professors find software to help accommodate her, but in doing so she helps them understand how these software programs can be used in all classrooms.
Grace uses a 12.5” iPad. To read and learn music, she uses a program called forScore, which offers a digital library where she keeps all her music scores. “You can digitally write in notation. You can write in sharp and flat signs,” she explains. “I also use it in what is called reflow mode. You can highlight however many measures you want and what you can do is click on and it’ll configure it as one line of music and a continuous scroll of music.” Grace uses a foot pedal to scroll through to read.
As a future educator, Grace wants to find ways for others to grow musically and professionally in ways that she created for herself and via help from others. “I hope by the time I’m old and gray I have created resources for not only students but also for teachers with visual impairments.”