Wisconsin's top music education student for 2009 is following in his wife's footsteps.
Anthony Kading, a University of Wisconsin-Whitewater senior, is the recipient of this year's Richard G. Gaarder award, granted by the Wisconsin Music Educators Association for the most promising college senior in music education. Among other instruments, Kading plays tuba and trumpet.
In 2004, Kading's wife, then his girlfriend, Laurel Meuth, won the award. Laurel Kading, who plays oboe, now gives private lessons. The Kadings live in Fort Atkinson.
UW-Whitewater students have won the coveted Gaarder award in 12 of the past 21 years. The 2008 co-winner was UW-Whitewater senior Kristen Baus.
Richard Haven, dean of the College of Arts and Communication at UW-Whitewater, said Kading's selection "reinforces, once again, what I've said so many times before: UW-Whitewater has the best music education program in the state of Wisconsin. Congratulations to the music faculty and to all of our talented students who are a part of this award-winning program."
Kading jokes that he didn't "have the most direct route" to winning the award.
"I came to UW-Whitewater in 1999 because I liked music; but I didn't really know what I wanted to do," he said. "In 2004, I left school and got married to a music teacher. I took a job selling furniture but ended up as a teacher's aide working with emotionally disturbed children. It was a challenging and difficult job and I got permission to bring some musical instruments to class and the students absolutely loved it."
The net result, Kading says, is that "I found I had a passion for teaching and music turned out to be a means to that end."
So, he returned to school, first at UW-Platteville and, then, back at UW-Whitewater.
Professor J. Michael Allsen, chairman of the Music Department at UW-Whitewater, wrote Kading's letter of recommendation for the Gaarder award.
"Tony has an exceptionally mature spirit of inquiry into all aspects of music education," Allsen said. "Tony has also excelled musically as a player, as a talented composer/arranger and as a teacher. A glance through his resume reveals an already-impressive list of musical accomplishments, numerous commissioned works and arrangements, and teaching in a wide variety of contexts."
Kading will begin student teaching in the spring semester but has not yet received his assignment.
He said receiving the award "has been exciting -- though I think Laurel was even more excited than I was," but has to stay in perspective as he begins a rigorous fall semester.
"I usually forget that I won it and, when people come up to me and say 'congratulations' I tend to ask 'what for.'"
Richard G. Gaarder was director of the Wisconsin School Music Association from 1964 to 1988. The association includes some 3,500 state music teachers in 1,000 school districts.