Kate Ransom became enamored with the violin and string quartets as a young teen, focusing her efforts on becoming a stellar performer. When she’s not performing or practicing, she’s leading the Music School of Delaware as president and CEO. The pedigreed musician talked to us about the school shortly after it was honored with a Governor’s Award for the Arts.
Kate Ransom became enamored with the violin and string quartets as a young teen, focusing her efforts on becoming a stellar performer. She still strives for perfection as part of the Serafin String Quartet. When she’s not performing or practicing, she’s leading the Music School of Delaware as president and CEO. The pedigreed musician talked to us about the Music School shortly after it was honored with a Governor’s Award for the Arts in the organization category.
Q The Music School recently won a Governor’s Award for the Arts. To what do you attribute that?
A First and foremost I attribute it to the school’s 85-year history of meeting the music needs of the community. More specifically, our recent initiative to provide for the music needs of the communities throughout the state of Delaware. I think that Delaware is rapidly changing, and the Music School has stepped up in a very bold way to address the needs of all Delawareans by making a commitment to locations around the state.
Q What types of initiatives have you undertaken?
A Initially we merged two schools, the Wilmington Music School and the Delaware Music School in Milford, into one, and in addition we’ve advanced the locations around the state, in Seaford, Lewes, Middletown, Dover and Wilmington locations. Sometimes we say we’re providing more music to more people in more places.
In terms of programs, the school is nationally accredited, one of out about 30 accredited out of 800 schools nationwide. So there are program standards that have to be met.
We want to attain musical excellence that is available to everyone. That’s a tall order, to provide for either a beginner, or an adult who plays for the love of it, or maybe a conservatory-bound teenager. So the programs need to meet this minimum standard, which means our faculty has to be outstanding. We have 100 faculty members, each one is a specialist in a certain area; they are extraordinarily gifted, special individuals.
We’ve recently been asked been asked to take over the management of the First State Orchestra and Little Strings. They were struggling and asked us to take over their organizational role, and we are very excited to do that.
Q What do you wish someone had taught you as a young music student?
A For me, that compelling thing ... about trying to help a community-based music organization is trying to provide the types of things that I had that were so wonderful in my own training that led me to become a professional musician, but also to fill in the gaps and make sure that we stay committed to the things that I didn’t get. One of the things I didn’t get in college was very good theory training. It was very haphazard, it was very disorganized and it was not very cohesive from semester to semester. And I also didn’t have very good ear training (learning to identify and label intervals) as a youngster, so I think it’s very, very important to train not only the child’s ear and the ability to imitate, but also to be able to identify and label the elements of music. In a way it’s much simpler than learning a language.
The other compelling thing that’s come out of my organizational work is that I have a strong commitment to doing things that are good for the community.
Q What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
A I have two little dogs, a little terrier, Pete, and a little poodle named Joey. I love film, and the movies, and I think it’s just an incredible artistic medium. I’m somewhat of a reader although I find it more difficult to maintain a good schedule of reading. I read one newspaper thoroughly every day and scan another one. I really like the Internet, Facebook and social media, networks, but I don’t spend a lot of time on them.
I have a great interest in a wide array of subjects, so last weekend I visited the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, the National Constitution Center, the Philadelphia Art Museum, attended a chamber music concert and did some eating at some great Philadelphia restaurants.
Q How did you get interested in performing?
A Initially I decided to become a violinist and become trained as a performing artist because of my love of the string quartet. It really was a bolt of lightening in my early teen years.
I got introduced to this amazing body of music. It really takes you very close to the composer, and I was always fascinated by the composers and how their lives and their art coexisted with their time.
I just kind of caught the fever as a young teenager and it made me want to practice and do whatever it would take. I was just very driven for that reason. And then I had such great guidance, great teachers all along the way.
Because of my experience I revere teachers. I don’t think there is a more important element to shaping our society than our teachers, from the teachers who guide little babies in early education to the great professors and lecturers and anybody who guides others in discovery.
Email Sarika Jagtiani at firstname.lastname@example.org