Student Focus: Ben Carlson

Ben Carlson headshot
Ben Carlson

Name: Ben Carlson

Major: Instrumental Music Education

Hometown: Clive, IA

Planned Graduation Date: Fall 2023

What are you involved with here at ISU and beyond?

I participate in various music ensembles at ISU. I am a drum major for the ISU Marching Band and I play tenor saxophone in both the Wind Ensemble and Jazz I. I am a member of Kappa Kappa Psi, an honorary service and leadership fraternity in the band department. I also represent the wind division in the music department's Student Representative Council and work as a stage manager for the music department. Last summer, I performed in the pit orchestra of the Des Moines Metro Opera on tenor saxophone and have also performed with Central Iowa Wind Ensemble.

What pieces are you working on right now?

I am currently working on the John Adams Saxophone Concerto.

What are you doing/looking forward to this semester?

I have been really enjoying the opportunity to observe and learn from different music teachers in Iowa. This semester, I have been travelling to North Polk High School to observe Brandon Weeks (their band director). Being in the classroom and creating relationships with music educators has made me feel much more prepared and confident to start working after graduation.

What is your favorite thing about your experiences at Iowa State?

There are so many things I have loved doing at ISU, but nothing beats participating in the marching band. During my four years as a member, I have made friendships and created memories that will last a lifetime. Going from high school to college can be a scary transition, but being a part of the marching band helped make that transition much more manageable. There's nothing like marching on the field of Jack Trice Stadium with over 300 of your closest friends.

Why did you choose the Dept. of Music and Theatre at ISU?

I chose to study music at ISU because the program was the perfect size for me. I knew that I would get to know my professors well because the class sizes allowed for more one-on-one interaction, but the program itself was large enough and got support from the university. I also met Mike Giles (the ISU saxophone and jazz professor) during my senior year of high school and I really connected with his teaching style and personality.

What are your interests beyond music and theatre?

I enjoy playing video games, hiking, exercising, and going out with friends. Also, TikTok takes up too much of my free time.

What are your plans after graduation?

I hope to get a job as a high school band director in Iowa.

Any words of wisdom for prospective students?

Get to know your professors and build positive relationships with them from the start. You've probably heard it hundreds of times by now, but it is true that they are there to help you and want to see you succeed. That's especially true for the music faculty at ISU. Like I've said before, the transition from high school to college can be scary but it is important that you always monitor your mental/physical health and take care of yourself. Reach out to your professors and/or peers when you need additional support. Get involved in as much as you can and try to improve at something every single day.