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Courtney Gazda
Courtney Gazda

Courtney Gazda '12

Associate Manager of Learning Programs, The Cleveland Orchestra

Everyday I work towards my goal of bridging gaps and breaking barriers for students and families in the Cleveland community through music.


B.A. Music Education, University of Mount Union

M.A.A., University of Akron


Hometown: Parma, Ohio 

Currently: Broadview Heights, Ohio

In my current role with The Cleveland Orchestra, I manage the robust learning programs spanning grades preschool through twelve for students, in addition to teaching family workshops, and creating/leading professional development training for teachers in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. My position allows me to combine all of the things I'm passionate about; fostering music making for children in the Cleveland community, collaborating with community leaders and partners, and being a part of the incredible team of staff and musicians of the orchestra.

In addition, I also continue to carry out my own music making with my business called Cleveland Cocktail Piano. I perform for wedding ceremonies, receptions, holiday parties, and other special events. I get to perform many styles of music, but especially love making 'cocktail' covers for popular songs.

Why Mount Union

Having been in music most of my life, I knew that I wanted to continue in music education at the collegiate level. When I began the audition processes and visiting various other universities, I kept comparing the wonderful experience I had at Mount Union and knew that I would not have a better experience anywhere else. I still remember arriving to Cope Music Hall (where future me would end up spending most of my time in my four years there) and meeting with Professors Dr. Patricia Boehm and Dr. Maira Liliestedt (both of whom would become my professors and mentors). It was clear that I would have the ability to grow and also to be pushed both musically and academically, and be supported in the way that I needed to be successful.

Campus Involvement

I was able to be a part of the Mount Union Concert Choir each year which was usually my favorite part of every day! I was able to participate in the local choir tours, and also the international choir tour to Italy in 2011. Making music every day at a high level and being a part of a team that all had to work hard together are still things I get to do every day in my career path. Being on risers or a stage with a large number of people is the best way you can learn to collaborate with others and learn to work with many different types of personalities. 8That's something most people will do in some capacity in their lives and something I get to do, and love, every day.

Staying Connected

I follow the Alumni pages on Facebook and keep up on the Alumni emails that we're sent. For a few years I was able to attend the Alumni weekends at Mount Union, but as life and work have gotten busier I haven't been able to make it the past three or so years.

Passions into a Career

I get to do all of the things I've dreamed of combining into a career, every single day! I get to work with children, teach professional development trainings for educators, collaborate with a diverse group of community leaders and partners, be on a team with staff and TCO musicians, and develop and implement content that helps to support and encourage music making in the Cleveland community. I definitely took some unconventional paths to get here, and didn't know that a career like this even existed. I performed as a pianist on Holland America Cruise Line upon graduating from Mount Union, I taught music to various grades in public schools, and I worked in all kinds of different internships to find my path. Now I think to myself, it is an amazing thing to be able to combine all of your passions into one place.

Ultimate Goal

Everyday I work towards my goal of bridging gaps and breaking barriers for students and families in the Cleveland community through music. Deeply rooted systemic racism has taken so much from too many communities in the world and while I know I can't solve all of the injustices, what I can do is develop and implement meaningful programming that have the potential to bring joy to children and families through the power of music.