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Self-proclaimed music ‘nerd’ weaves music throughout her life

Rachel+Moeller%2C+BGSU+Music+Composition+student
Courtesy Rachel Moeller
Rachel Moeller, BGSU Music Composition student

“Everything I do apart from music is badly done and stupid.” – Ludwig Von Beethoven. 

According to Bowling Green State University Music Composition student Rachel Moeller, this quote is “too relatable.’

When it comes to music, she has a surprising outgoing streak.

“I’m such a nerd. I like looking at the Overtone series, how music works mathematically, and just how crazy it all is,” she said. 

Musical inclination has been a part of Moeller’s life since she was young.  

“One of my earliest memories is being in my basement and my dad and I singing ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ together because that’s what his band was doing at the time,” she said. 

Not only is music a part of her memories but a part of her father’s career, as well.  

“My dad is a musician, he’s a bass guitar player. He plays in an Irish band, a country band, he used to play in a rock band, so, I’ve been around music all my life,” she added. “Once I started to play music it just became my thing.”  

In terms of musical experiences in college, Moeller has three BGSU scholarships, both academic and musical, which together provide her with a full ride. Though the flute is her primary instrument and part of her scholarship, Moeller plays several other instruments.  

“I also play violin, and if you’re here in the CMA [College of Musical Arts] you’re learning piano whether you like it or not, so I play a little bit of piano, a little bit of bass, and a little bit of any flute-like instrument because they all have the same fingering,” she said.  

Moeller stated starting at BGSU was “a little intimidating,” but her “freshman self would be very impressed” with her latest composition piece. She added BGSU provides many opportunities for those in the music program to not only practice music composition but also to get their pieces played and performed in music forums. 

Johnathan Kroeger, a BGSU graduate student double majoring in Music Composition and Vocal Performance, agreed.

“I feel that we have a very strong music program. We have good opportunities, especially for composition students,” he said “I’ve had four pieces performed at forums.”

Moeller’s music-playing extends beyond school, however. Describing herself as a faithful Christian, she said she enjoys intertwining the two aspects of her life.  

“I love the idea that everything we do can be offered as a prayer,” she said. “Being able to use music to praise God and being able to write music for the purpose of glorifying the Lord, is a beautiful thing and such a big part of my compositional journey.” 

One way she incorporates faith into her music is by playing flute and violin at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church weekly. Director of Music Liturgy Dennis Johns detailed how Moeller has progressed in the past three years she has been playing at St. Joseph’s.  

“Even when she started with me, she was very good, her intonation, her tone quality were all really good, that’s gotten even better,” said Johns. “Being able to communicate nonverbally and musically, she’s much stronger in that now than she was.” 

Moeller plays her instrument of choice, either violin or flute, in accompaniment with the church’s choir, and Johns on piano. 

“Her technique is very good. We work together really well,” said Johns. 

In addition to playing at St. Joseph’s, Moeller is also a part of the Bowling Green Philharmonia, where she plays violin. 

“I think there is a desire in everyone to be a part of something beautiful and I think music is a very easy and simple way to do that,” she said. 

In terms of careers, Moeller has a variety of options. 

 “My career aspirations are a little up in the air because as a composer you have so many options, but each is limited in job opportunities. After college, I’ll probably end up teaching or working for a symphony admin. The hope is to keep composing throughout my whole life because if I didn’t write music, I’d probably go insane,” she said. 

While Moeller detailed many reasons why she enjoys music, the people aspect was one she continually returned to.  

“One of the biggest things I’ve been connected to is the way it [music] connects people, the way it creates community and the way that music is capable of breaking through cultural boundaries and any other differences,” she said. 

In addition to the community, Moeller mentioned several other reasons she enjoys playing music.  

“I enjoy the technique of it all, the skills, dedication, and work that it takes. One thing that I love about this building in particular [the Moore Musical Arts Center] and being a part of this scene, is that everybody gets along because we are all connected by one thing. I think that’s something that the world needs a little more of,” she said. 

Not only did Moller explain why she enjoys music, but also emphasized the effort it takes to produce it. 

“I have been playing flute for eight years, seven years on violin. I don’t think the years is important, but how hard you’re working. It takes so much time and hard work. We [musicians] are famous for saying we hate the compliment ‘you’re so talented’ because, sure there’s something to having a good ear and rhythm, but that’s nothing compared to the hours and years’ worth of cumulative work we’ve put into our art,” she said. 

Moeller’s teacher, Dr. Marilyn Shrude, a BGSU distinguished artist professor, supported Moeller as a hard-working student. 

“She’s always been a very dedicated, conscientious, competent, enthusiastic composer She’s an incredible student, I’m very proud of her,” said Shrude.  

In addition to detailing Moeller’s qualities, Shrude also talked about the thematic elements present in the music Moeller has written. 

“Thematically she draws on folk elements and her spirituality means a lot to her. Those two items draw a lot of her decisions on what she’s going to write about,” said Shrude. 

Not only has Moeller entwined the things she loves into her music, but she also explained that music has helped shape her worldview.  

“We are so caught up in our problems and our opinions that having something that brings people together is absolutely beautiful. You see it in the community here that so many different people come together,” she said. 

Moeller also detailed the types of music she enjoys composing. 

“Anything programmatic is really fun to work on. I love ballet, anything to do with dance, I love larger symphonic works, but chamber music is fun, too. I’m really up for anything it just depends on where life takes me,” she said. 

Though Moeller likes to compose a variety of music, she is unsure where her composing journey will lead her.  

“They say with composers you don’t find your style until you’re in your 40s so I guess in my head I’m like, why make composition the focus now when I’m in a period of learning and figuring myself out,” she said.  

But Moller clarified the differences between composing for fun and composing for school. 

“Projects for school, we have a whole process where we take time to brainstorm and hear the piece in your head and what you want to happen, and then write it. Projects for fun are whatever I want them to be. They are usually inspired by something and, if I’m hearing something in my head, I know exactly what instrumentation it is,” she said. 

Moeller said the piece she’s currently writing is inspired by a Catholic story of Marian intercession. Catholics believe that Marian intercession occurred to help save a marriage in the 17th Century and that the string from a feuding couple’s wedding was miraculously unknotted and the color restored, according to EWTN 

“Right now, I’m working on a piece called ‘Mary Undoer of Knots,’ so the piece is centered around this knot being woven and then gradually being undone,” said Moeller.  

Moeller also mentioned music encourages variety and innovation.  

“That’s the nice thing about art is that it really can be whatever you want it to be, or you can be given instructions and find your creativity within the structure that you have,” she said. 

Moeller said she appreciates not only to have music in her life but also for all those who make it possible and enhance her musical experiences.  

“I’m so grateful to all my teachers and all my colleagues. We have an amazing group of composition grad students who are doing some incredible things, and the faculty here is great,” she said.  

Overall, music is inherently tied to Moeller’s life. 

 “Music is an extension of myself. Once I started to play instruments it opened a whole new world. It feels like it is a part of me, of who I am. Something I put my identity into,” she said. 

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