Natalie Nielsen loves her job as the band instructor at North Cedar Community Schools in Stanwood, Iowa.
“It doesn’t even feel like work,” she said.
Nielsen, who graduated from Simpson in 2011, is another example of the great success the Simpson music department has enjoyed placing graduates in teaching jobs.
She says it’s not an accident.
Simpson prepares music students for future success in a variety of ways, Nielsen says, and it starts on the first day.
Nielsen, who grew up in Norwalk, didn’t initially plan to attend Simpson. She was looking at a larger school.
“Simpson was a smaller campus, and I just felt like the professors would know my name, and they would care if I was in class and they would contact me if I wasn’t. At the other school, it felt like I’d be a number because there are so many people there.”
The smaller classes sizes means more personal attention and coaching from faculty members.
Nielsen said she was impressed by how much effort Dr. Mike Eckerty, assistant professor of music, invested in recruiting non-music majors to participate in Simpson’s various bands. “He’s great at that,” she said.
At Simpson, Nielsen performed with the Symphonic Band, Jazz Band, Saxophone Quartet and even played a recorder at the Madrigal dinners.
“I was involved in every single instrument ensemble you can think of,” she said.
Nielsen says Simpson did a great job of preparing her for a teaching career by lining up opportunities with area high schools to help out with their bands.
“We were thrown in front of a high school jazz band and were there to work with them an entire semester,” she said. “They invited us back the next year. It’s great experience.”
Nielsen said she has been encouraging her youngster sister to attend Simpson.
“For me, it was a great experience,” she said. “I wasn’t going to live on campus at first. But I did, and I wouldn’t change that for anything. I became best friends with my roommate. I’m about to be maid of honor at one of my roommate’s wedding.”
As much as she loves her teaching job, Nielsen said there’s one thing that might lure her away – the chance to relive her Simpson experience.
“I seriously miss it every single day,” she said. “I wish I could live there all the time.”