Learn from the Best: Caleb Wenzel partners with his students in the learning and creative process

Caleb Wenzel, director of Choral and Vocal Activities at Grand Rapids Community College, has directed, composed, mentored young composers, conducted and performed nationally and internationally for choir, vocals, orchestra, and piano chamber music. 

“I have always wanted to do something creative with music, but have explored many aspects of the profession,” Wenzel said. “I’ve studied business and entrepreneurship, worked as a marketing director, led a church music program, worked in community support organizations, and led my own private music studio. All of these experiences helped me focus my career goals and hone the skills I use as a teacher/performer every day.”

Wenzel began teaching at GRCC during the  height of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“There’s usually a nervous period of getting to know your students and students getting to know a new faculty member,” Wenzel said. “Because everything has been upended, all of us were freed to just be ourselves from day one. The rapport we have and the joy we’ve shared in studying music has been one of the most meaningful experiences of my teaching life.”

 “I love the energy of the students,” Wenzel said. “They are determined, full of hope, and relentless learners. 

Wenzel finds the strength of GRCC’s music program lies in the ensembles and accomplishments of the faculty. 

“Whether you are a music major preparing the professional skills for a career in music or you just love making music, we likely have an ensemble for you,” Wenzel said. “Our faculty members are highly accomplished and love teaching. Whether you’re early in your musical training or highly advanced, our faculty will enjoy helping you enrich your current level of accomplishment and will help you find the next level in a way that’s supportive, challenging, and satisfying.”

Wenzel also serves as the music educators program director at the Conducting Institute of Caminos del Inka under the directorship of eminent conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya, and the conducting area coordinator and as principal conductor of the American Creators Ensemble at the Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium at University of Oregon. Learn more about Wenzel’s expansive experience and education in his bio.

“Nothing about a career in music happens quickly,” Wenzel said. “It takes years of serious and focused study to cultivate the musicianship to compete in the music profession, and then it takes years to establish yourself within the profession. It’s a long, long journey, but it’s also one of the most satisfying journeys you can take.”

Recollecting mentors who have had a long career before him Wenzel singles one out as a personal hero, his piano teacher Jo Boatright. “Even as she nears her 90th birthday, she’s still teaching and performing with the energy and devotion that I hope I bring to my students,” Wenzel said.

Join Wenzel this year at GRCC in Concert Choir, College Choir, Madrigal Singers, Music Theory I, History of Music I, Intro to Music Education, Vocal Performance Lab, Conducting Lessons, Choral Music Composition.

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