As he finishes his last semester before student teaching, senior music education major Joel Van Peursem is preparing for his senior trombone recital and reflecting on all that led him to this moment.
Van Peursem has been interested in music ever since he was a kid.
“Music has always been a huge part of my life,” he said.
It began when he was young. His mom had him and his younger siblings sing around the piano every morning. However, this passion for music really developed during high school when he had opportunities to participate in larger ensembles, in honor bands and even in the South Dakota All-State Band.
One of the biggest role models in Van Peursem’s music journey has been his grandfather, Larry Mitchell, who was a band director and Van Peursem’s private trombone lesson instructor from age 11 to 18.
“I wanted to do what he did because I had the opportunity to watch him while growing up,” Van Peursem said.
After high school, he began his music education at Northwestern, where he continued taking private lessons from instructor Vance Shoemaker. The professors in the music department have continued to encourage Van Peursem and support him as he developed his craft.
“My love for music has just grown over my experience at Northwestern,” Van Peursem said. “I have really learned a ton from the music professors.”
Van Peursem has also had the opportunity to participate in several ensembles at NW, including Symphonic Band, Chamber Orchestra, Jazz Band, Brass Quintet, Trombone Ensemble, Red Raider Athletic Band and A capella Choir.
As a tutor, teacher assistant, stage manager and leader in the music department, Van Peursem has worked closely with all of the music professors.
“Joel has been a real leader in our department,” music professor and choir director Dr. Thomas Holm said. “He brings not only all his significant musicality but also his passion to accomplish excellence in his work. He is one who helps motivate others by his own example.”
Through his journey, Van Peursem’s favorite thing about music has always been the ability he has to create something beautiful with others, to worship God and to see the joy music can bring to the world. This desire to create has given him strength even when he faced the challenge of balancing his practice time with his participation in a variety of different ensembles.
One of the graduation requirements for music majors is a senior recital. This recital is the cumulation of all the music major’s hard work and dedication over the course of their music career: all the practice hours, individual lessons, ensemble work, performances and concerts.
For his recital, Van Peursem started working on his music at the end of last spring semester after he decided on the pieces he wanted to include in his final program. He then started practicing little by little over the summer, and he now has a great deal of time preparing his recital songs with his accompanist.
Van Peursem’s recital accompanist is actually his sister, junior Abby Van Peursem, which makes the recital even more of a special event for him.
“I’m super super excited to be performing my recital with my sister,” Van Peursem said.
After graduation, Van Peursem plans to look for middle school and high school band director jobs in Northwest Iowa or the Sioux Falls area, so he and his wife Kaitlyn can be close to family. His goal is to one day continue his music education and teach at the college level.
Van Peursem’s senior recital is at 3 p.m. on Nov. 1 at Christ Chapel. All are invited to attend.