After auditioning for Shenandoah Conservatory, Karin Miller Orenstein ’01 told her parents “that this was the place I needed to be.” Orenstein’s piano instructor recommended Shenandoah to her, believing that it was a place that could provide both the musical and emotional support that she needed. At the time of her audition, the conservatory was hosting a master class, so this gave Orenstein the opportunity to witness how the students and professors interacted in the educational setting.
In addition to meeting her husband, Adam P. Orenstein, at Shenandoah, Orenstein created a strong bond with Coordinator of Conservatory Teaching and Graduate Assistantships and Associate Professor of Piano Karen Walker, D.M.A. Dr. Walker would not only give Orenstein the most amazing piano lessons of her life, but would also talk her through challenges in her classes, life and future aspirations.
“Dr. Walker was and always has been an inspiration for me,” said Orenstein. “She provided her students with constant support while always having the ability to challenge them. The conservatory fostered a sense of teamwork from all the faculty and classmates who I remember with fondness.”
Orenstein is the director of education at Settlement Music School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her job is to work with administration and more than 220 faculty among six different locations to provide leadership and support to thousands of students throughout the Philadelphia metro area. The most rewarding part of her career at Settlement Music School is simply being a part of the organization. “I have had the amazing opportunity to work within an organization that has been around for 11 years, that has a mission of providing access and excellence in arts education to all,” said Orenstein.
Orenstein is also a member of the National Guild of Community Arts Education, and serves as a co-ambassador of the Lg. School Steering Committee and on the educational panel of Jazz Philadelphia.
Orenstein’s professors at Shenandoah helped her to understand the importance of compassion and listening while developing problem solving skills to help advance her pedagogical understanding. “Shenandoah provided the pedagogical groundwork that I have used throughout my education and my career,” said Orenstein. “It is through the educational and emotional support that Shenandoah provided as groundwork that I was able to have the confidence and grit to take on challenges throughout my career. My professors at Shenandoah not only encouraged me to follow my dreams but help me build the stairs to reach them.”
Orenstein’s advice to students is: “Understand that learning never stops. Every day I have the wonderful opportunity to work with master teachers, colleagues and families who are continually providing me with new ways to think about concepts, ideas and opportunities. ”
Written by Harley Ryan ’16
Assistant Director of Alumni Affairs