Get to know Show Choir Instructor Jeff Knutson

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Beloit, Wisconsin, but I moved to North Dakota at a young age. I lived in Dickinson and Bismarck before returning to Wisconsin and attending junior high and high school in Janesville, Wisconsin.

Where did you attend school?

I went to Luther College in Decorah, Iowa for my undergraduate degree and Michigan State University for my master’s degree in choral conducting.

What got you interested in music?

My parents were music educators. My dad has a doctoral degree in music education, and my mom has a master’s degree in vocal performance and music education. Both taught at the college level for most of my life, and I grew up attending concerts that my parents conducted and sang in as well as listening to voice lessons at my house. Being their first-born, I didn’t really stand a chance to do anything other than music education, but I love it.

What do you love about instructing music and show choir? 

I love creating something with a group of people where everyone is needed to contribute in order for the group to succeed. Everyone brings something unique to their ensembles, and we only succeed if everyone does their best.  

What is the most rewarding thing about your job?

My favorite part of my job is working with students. Getting to know them, helping them to build their voices, and interacting with them each day is absolutely the best part of teaching.

What do you love about Waukee?

Waukee as a community is incredible. It’s a great place to live, and the community is so engaged with everything happening at Waukee High School. There is a great deal of pride in the experiences we’re able to offer our students, and I am grateful for the support they offer teachers.

Who does your family consist of?

My wife, Shannon, and my dog, Decorah, are the only members of my family in Waukee. My extended family lives in Wisconsin and includes my parents and two brothers (and one of them is also a music teacher).

Favorite hobbies outside of teaching and directing?

I picked up running when I started teaching. I’ve run a few half marathons and got up to 18 miles during May of this year when we were quarantining. I also am an avid Packers fan (and Wisconsin sports in general). I have too many fantasy football teams, and I enjoy spending time with some of my friends who live nearby when I’m not in rehearsal.

What is your favorite food and restaurant?

I am a big fan of barbeque food and burgers. Some of my favorite restaurants in Waukee include Kue’d, Barntown, and Gastro.  

Favorite movie and TV show?

My co-workers and I recently debated which Marvel movie is best, and I would have to say Black Panther and Ant-Man are two of my all-time favorite movies. As for a TV show, I am a big fan of The Office.

If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go and why?

It would have to be Venice, Italy. It is one of the more influential places in terms of its impact on music history, and I would love to get to see some of the famous performance spaces, particularly St. Mark’s Basilica.

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