By Rebecca Weissman
During the 2012 NAMM show in Anaheim, we had the pleasure of speaking with Powell/Sonaré artist Kate Prestia-Schaub. This Colorado native made her way to Southern California eleven years ago to study with Jim Walker and attend graduate school at the University of Southern California. She began teaching privately while studying at USC and now enjoys a busy career as an educator and performer. In addition to coaching at three high schools and one middle school in the area, she is an adjudicator for the Music Teachers’ Association if California (MTAC) and a woodwind coach for the Inland Valley Youth Symphony. She is also an active performer, presenting masterclasses and solo recitals throughout the year.
Kate represents the third generation of flautists in her family, since both her mother and her maternal grandfather were flute players. She is the daughter of Maralyn Prestia, former flautist with the Denver Symphony and Colorado Symphony. Kate says her desire to play the flute came very early – age three to be exact. She remembered that she wanted to play flute because she wanted to grow up to be just like her mother. At the time, her request to play flute was a bit premature, so her mother had her play recorder. As Kate recalls, she played the recorder for another three years but did not give up her original request. She said, “I did not waver because I knew I wanted to play flute. I loved my mother so much and admired her – I wanted to be just like her.”
A few years later, Kate was in the 7th grade and found another passion – piccolo. She told her mother that she wanted to play piccolo, but her mother wanted her to “stick with flute first to get the fundamentals.” Determined to play piccolo, Kate snuck into her mother’s closet and “stole” her piccolo. She remembers playing it for the rest of the night. Ultimately, her mother heard her play the instrument and told her that it would be okay for her to play both flute and piccolo. Kate studied with area orchestral players and then studied with her mother in high school. She said, “My mother was a terrific teacher and a terrific mom. Sometimes I would play in the kitchen while she cooked. She’d turn her head to stir something on the stove and still be able to call out any wrong notes!”
When it came time to look into music schools for her undergraduate studies, Kate researched several schools. She eventually travelled with her mother to Bloomington, Indiana to have a lesson with Kate Lucas at Indiana University, Bloomington. Kate felt the school was a perfect match. She said that with Ms. Lucas, she would be able to focus on flute and piccolo and work on her fundamentals, tone, and technique. After two years with Kate, she transferred into the studio of Tom Robertello. Kate said that she enjoyed her studies with Robertello as well as, “He was good with musical concepts. He pushed me to make my own musical decisions and stand up for them.”
Now a teacher herself, Kate finds the greatest inspiration from her own students. She says, “I am so lucky to do so much with kids…. I was just with our youth orchestra yesterday, and I walked away so inspired… It is totally a treat and an honor to be a part of the next generation…. My grandfather was really dedicated to kids, and he inspired me to do the same. I wake up every day, knowing that I will have young smiling faces at my door… playing flute! What a joy…”