At any music concert at Northwestern in the past three years, audiences have seen this week’s music major senior in action. She fills a plethora of roles in the music department, ranging from singing soprano in concert, playing the drums and vibing with her saxophone. However, if you’ve ever had the privilege of meeting Ashley Van Ravenswaay, you know she fills even more roles when it comes to campus life. With an infectious laugh, top-notch socks and scary-good furniture moving skills, Van Ravenswaay has been a blessing to NW’s campus in many ways. She has chosen to dedicate most of her time to the music department in hopes of spreading the joy she brings to her own music students one day.
A little-known fact about Van Ravenswaay is that she originally came in as a freshman studying biology, in the hopes of being a surgeon. However, after a lot of discernment and encouragement from peers and mentors, she chose to pursue studying music education.
“People from within the music department saw a desire in me to teach others and share music with them, so I decided to pursue music more seriously, especially after I didn’t enjoy my biology class as much as I thought I would”, said Van Ravenswaay.
During her time in the music department, Van Ravenswaay has enjoyed the group trips to Spain and Chicago and is looking forward to the choir’s trip to Taiwan in June 2022.
“I’ve loved the trips because of how well I’ve gotten to know people and the relationships that have come out of them,” said Van Ravenswaay. “Also, it’s just really cool to see new places and get to play new music.”
When she’s not working in on NW’s music department, Van Ravenswaay has worked with her high school marching band in Sioux Falls the past three years, helping coach the students for competition. She said, “It’s been a really good experience for what I’ll be doing in the future, and after having gotten to know the kids, it’s been really cool to see their growth both as people and as musicians since I met them.”
It seems that the relationships that have come out of music have been the most rewarding to Van Ravenswaay, noting that her favorite time playing music in the past three years has been in her saxophone ensemble, mainly because “we had a good time goofing around.”
Ashley looks back on her time in the music department with a great sense of appreciation for all that the faculty and staff have given her. “[The] music faculty wants to see you succeed, wants you to ask questions and wants you to make an impact going forward as music educators. They want to make sure that your students don’t study music because they hope to be better than their ‘bad music teacher’, but rather that you inspired them to pursue the art,” said Van Ravenswaay. “Our professors do a good job of getting to know you as a person outside of ensembles and rehearsals. My advice to the freshman would be to talk to the people in the department and get to know them because we want to help you and we’ve taken all the classes that you’ll be taking.”
After her time at NW, Van Ravenswaay hopes to find a job teaching band at a larger high school, and possibly obtaining her Master’s in Composition. However, if she decided not to pursue music, she’d like to work at a zoo. You read it here first.
If you’re looking to strike up a conversation with the stand-out senior in the future, she’d like readers to know that she loves Big Time Rush, has never had a nosebleed and thinks that Christmas music is appropriate at any time, especially when you need a little more joy in your day. You can catch her in action on Saturday, Dec. 4 at the annual Christmas Vespers concert, in Christ Chapel at 7 p.m.