MISHAWAKA-- Reg Klopfenstein, D.M., started off his education journey at the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music, graduating in 1980. He went on to finish his graduate degree two years later. He had many pieces of advice for students pursuing graduate school which can be found in the article, “Graduate School Tips: The Music Department," published earlier this year. Klopfenstein was careful to balance the stresses and opportunities involved in pursuing graduate school.
“You have goals, but you also are willing to let God kind of bump you this way or that way…which is exciting!” Klopfenstein said. “I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but it’s not like there wasn’t stress along the way.”
He graduated from Indiana University School of Music with his M.M. in 1982. He describes the next part of his journey to be God bumping him in direction after direction. Klopfenstein was friends with many professors from his graduate studies. He believes in the opportunities you can receive by knowing others and them knowing you to be reliable because he goes by this one mantra: “One phone call can change your life.”
One phone did indeed change Klopfenstein’s life. He was invited to join the Honolulu Symphony as a Percussionist and Timpanist. It was a big move, but it led to the opportunities to have on-the-job experience for his profession.
In this time in between his master’s and his doctorate, he was reunited with the woman destined to become his wife. They had known each other their whole lives but had been on their own journeys when God brought them back together. She had just moved back to Grabill, Ind., and he was visiting on break from his Honolulu Symphony work.
“I always joke around with this, ‘We waited until we were as far apart as possible, she’s in New York and I’m in Hawaii, to reconnect,’” Klopfenstein said. “God has a sense of humor.”
He said there were challenges along the way, but when he went back to get his doctorate, it was a very different time in his life. He had left his orchestra job of the last nine years and he had a wife and two children. He is very thankful for his wife and her patience while he was dealing with extreme busyness. To Klopfenstein, it was tough, but ultimately worth it.
Klopfenstein is a percussionist by trade and fulfills those duties at Bethel University. When describing what he does here, he listed the Percussion Ensemble first, then percussion lessons. He also teaches the first two music theory courses, and two years ago he started teaching the world music course, which explores many cultures around the world. He now teaches all four music history courses—he used to teach only the first and last of those courses.
He says his favorite thing about being at Bethel University is working with the students. He enjoys getting to know them and hopes he has a positive impact on their lives in whatever they do with their futures.