She is a musician

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Codie Luse

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

Since coming to MFL MarMac her junior year of high school, Codie Luse has immersed herself in fine arts programs, participating in speech, choir, band and the Legacy Show Choir band.


She called it her school “safe zone.”


“I find my comfort level doing fine arts,” Codie said.


Playing an instrument is her favorite, though. Particularly the clarinet.


“It was so easy to grasp and learn,” recalled Codie, who officially started in sixth grade. “Now, I’m still learning more. I’ve fallen in love with it more and more.”


In addition to clarinet, Codie plays the bass clarinet and saxophone and is also learning flute.


Transitioning to bass clarinet—which Codie described as simply bigger and lower—wasn’t difficult. Outside of an embouchure change, or the way in which a player applies their mouth to an instrument mouthpiece, neither was saxophone. 


“But flute and clarinet are very different,” she quipped.


Codie said coming to MFL MarMac from the larger Monticello has given her a chance to shine and try new things instrumentally. 


“It has helped me love my instrument more and be more confident in trying other instruments, doing solos and auditioning for colleges,” she shared. “While I had good resources in Monticello, I had even better resources here that were willing to help me and taught me more. When I first got here, [high school instrumental music assistant] Karen Suddendorf realized, ‘Oh, wow, she’s actually good.’ In the first month of school, she knew exactly the solo she wanted me to play.”


The Mozart piece earned Codie a one rating at solo and ensemble contest last year.


“Now, it’s just been going up from there. I auditioned for colleges and I’ve gotten accepted into their music programs. I’ve gotten good scholarships from it. I’m in the show band,” Codie said. “I want to keep proving I can be better.”


Performing a solo isn’t daunting for Codie. Whether it’s a part in the concert band or playing with only an accompanist at contest, she finds it exciting.


“Instrumental solos are fun and you get a lot more time to shine if you get the right solo and the right parts to show off,” Codie said. “My solo this year is very lyrical and beautiful. There are three sections in it where I get to show off how well I can do my fingerings, how fast I can do them. And I personally love doing scale climbs. I have a lot of those in my solo this year.”


Codie takes any opportunity she can throughout the school day to hone her craft. She either works on her own in the band room or with band teacher Kaleb Krzyszton. Suddendorf, along with middle school music teacher Kaitlyn Stone-Strock, have also been important influences. Codie works from home too.


“I spend a good couple hours on my clarinet, or on saxophone, when I take it home,” she said. “I like to hear myself with the music. That is a really good way to learn an overall piece—you learn yourself so you can also focus on others when you’re with the other people around you.”


That came in handy when Codie and trombone player Karlie Hagensick performed improvised solos as part of a jazz ensemble at MFL MarMac’s recent Pops Concert. 


Codie said the two never played their solos when rehearsing with the whole group.


“They were never going to be the same,” she explained. “It gave us time to focus on, OK, who’s matching rhythms here and there and let’s get those put together. Then we can throw in our solos when we need to.”


Codie plans to pursue a career in music education. She’ll start with her bachelor’s degree at Luther College in Decorah, and hopes to work her way up to a doctorate. At Luther, Codie will also continue to perform. Her main goal is to play in the jazz band.


“I love jazz music and jazz clarinet,” she said. “I’ve also really been focusing on playing the baritone saxophone because a lot of people play alto, a lot of people play trumpet, but not a lot of people play bari sax, so it would be a good way to slip in.”


Codie selected this career path because of the impact music and music teachers have had on her. She wants to similarly impact and inspire younger musicians. 


“Music is very important. There’s so much good out of being a singer, listening to music, playing an instrument. I want to show that,” she said. 


For Codie, music has been an escape. 


“If I get stressed, I listen to music or I pull out my clarinet and just play away. It’s fun to come up with random, little tunes, and calm down,” she shared. “ I love feeling music. I love to dissect it and figure out ways I can do it.”


Music is even an escape during live performances. Codie said people often comment how into the music she gets. She physically moves.


A big part of that is playing with the group—the importance of which she didn’t realize until the COVID-19 pandemic.


“When COVID hit the middle of freshman year and I was not able to go into that band room, I realized how much I missed it. While I had my clarinet, I didn’t have my band family. When you’re away from them, it’s not as fun,” she explained. 


As a senior, Codie said that family is one of the things she’ll miss most.


“In fine arts, no matter what aspect you do, whether it’s speech, music or you do the musical, even if you’re doing backstage for a musical, it’s so much fun. Everyone who I do things with in the fine arts, I’ve grown close to. I will miss everybody,” she reflected.


That support system is one of the biggest reasons she believes younger students should consider participating in fine arts.


“Find what you’re passionate about. It will guide you,” she said. In band specifically, “it’s all about taking opportunities and enjoying the instrument you play. Music is going to have a big impact on your future, whether you continue on with it or not. It’s always fun to try it.”

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