Kallie Koch Has a Calling for Music



By Claire Thomas

Kallie Koch, a senior music major, initially went to college to study business. But a business degree was not in her score.

Two years into studying business at Shippensburg, Koch heard the call of the piano and the desire to study it at a higher level. Shippensburg didn’t offer the degree she wanted, but Commonwealth University-Bloomsburg’s location was a great fit for the native of nearby Benton, who had taken piano lessons starting at age six.

“Many musicians grow up wanting to be a teacher or performer. That never interested me,” says Koch. “I wanted to pursue the business side of music until I realized how much I missed the thrill of performance.” 

A women writing in a notebook, with multiple books around her.

Now in her last semester before graduation in December, Koch is preparing for a senior lecture and recital that will be held on Sunday, Nov. 12, at 2 p.m. in Carver Hall, K.S. Gross Auditorium. 

To prepare for her recital, she spends 12 to 18 hours a week practicing. Typically, you can find Koch playing the baby grand piano in the practice rooms of Haas Center for the Arts two hours every weekday and on some weekends as well. 

Staying motivated can be difficult, “but having a routine helps, and being kind to yourself on your off days still matters,” says Koch. “I’ve learned you can still practice without even touching the piano. Studying scores, analyzing music by writing in the chords, playing music on tabletops, and watching and listening to videos of performances are all part of my piano-free practice. Serious performers need to practice and dedicate time, but you need to balance life and show what you experienced in life through your music.”

In addition to performance, Koch’s recital will highlight her research of the past year. In December 2022, Koch and her professor Dr. Charisse Baldoria travelled to lower Manhattan to visit the Morgan Library and Museum. 

Two women standing with a piano.

It was a complicated visit to arrange. Koch planned the trip weeks in advance as the collections she wanted to view were private. She completed requests and submitted articles to prove her credentials to access the private library of J.P. (John Pierpont) Morgan. Koch and Dr. Baldoria received specific time reservations to view the special editions held in the Sherman Fairchild Reading Room. Koch spent her time reading and researching famed 19th-century Polish composer Frédéric Chopin. At the age of 20, Chopin fled Poland due to Russia’s invasion. He spent the rest of his life in France while struggling with health issues. 

After hearing about the hard life Chopin lived, Koch feels she can showcase the emotions he was feeling while composing. “Knowing about Chopin’s life has helped me become a better performer. A lot of his music is very Polish, and he is a national composer. You can tell from his music that he is extremely tied to his culture. People tend to say he is the Polish composer.”

Koch chose five of Chopin’s pieces to present at her lecture recital and has based her research on his life and early editions of his works.  

After graduation, Koch plans to attend graduate schools to earn a master’s in library science and information technology. Her goal is to become a music librarian and focus on archival work. 

“For research, find something you want to learn more about. There is much more research that can be done for people that had a prolific output. They have letters, teachers, and pupils that have diaries. There are a lot more primary sources that are preserved than you might expect.”