By Matt Harron
KU music department professors all have one thing in common. They all, at one point, had starter jobs, which eventually lead them to their professional career today.
Dr. Soo Goh-
Assistant Professor of Music with concentration in clarinet
Prior to starting his undergraduate studies in music and computer science at Luther College in Iowa, Goh came to the United States as an international student from Malaysia. As an international student, Goh faced work-study restrictions from his undergraduate through his doctoral studies.
“As an international student, you are only allowed to work up to 20 hours a week and the job has to be on campus. If you work off campus, that’s illegal and you can be deported. It is very restrictive,” said Goh.
Despite the limits he faced as an international student, Goh worked in the computer lab, helping with technical support and was the layout editor of the university paper. Goh also worked at the school cafeteria as the salad department manager and bus boy.
The work-study limits restricted Goh as a musician as well. He was not able to freelance as a musician because of the 20-hour work cap. He said, “It is a big problem for international students. You want to get experience and get gigs, but you cannot legally do that.”
Following his undergraduate studies, Goh went on to declare his Master’s in computer science at Boland Green State University in Ohio. Goh was granted a clarinet teaching assistantship to teach methods and lessons to music education students.
Goh later studied for his doctorate at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He used his skills in computer science to land an assistantship in their department. Goh then taught music technology for three years.
While studying for his Doctorate, Goh landed an internship at Notion U—a revolutionary music company where he spent two years.
Following his internship at Notion U, Goh began to teach clarinet at Elon University for one year. He then moved onto University of North Carolina at Pembroke for six years. Since 2011, Goh has been teaching at KU.
Dr. Kevin Kjos-
Director of Jazz Studies
Kjos began his undergraduate at University of Wisconsin where he funded his own education. His first job was painting houses locally and regionally.
During his second year at Wisconsin, he was able to focus more on music when he joined a rhythm and blues band, playing trumpet for some of his favorite artists like B.B. King. Following his performances at late night gigs, Kjos worked at local convenient store until classes started again.
In the 1980’s, applied at Menards, an appliance store similar to Lowes. His job was to stack lumber and was paid $50 for every 50,000 feet of board.
The University of Wisconsin was home for his Master’s degree as well. He worked at a record store similar to Young One’s in KU. Kjos described is as a great gig because he could listen to music throughout the day.
In between his undergraduate and graduate studies, Kjos formed Cedar Avenue Big Band. They released a few records as an experimental band based out of Minneapolis—Kjos is proud that the band is still in existence.
He then moved on to the University of Indiana to wrap up his Doctorate studies. He jumped from gig to gig, wich was a good time, according to Kios.. He said, “Anytime you get to play is great.”
During his Doctoral studies, Kjos was also a freelance trumpet player at Barnum and Bailey circus.
Simultaneously, Kjos had 20 plus private students he taught throughout the week. In between all the side jobs he had, music was always the primary focus for him.
“When you’re on the path to your future, it feels like you’re crooked, but when you look back it’s an exact straight line,” said Kjos. He has been teaching at KU in 1998.
Dr. Frank Kumor-
Director of Percussion studies
Kumor worked a handful of side jobs throughout his Uundergraduate, Master’s and Doctoral studies.
What Kumor remembers to be a nightmare of a job was working as a data entry representative during his undergraduate at KU. He worked at Bonton and Turkey Hill.
Throughout all of his jobs, teaching music was his primary focus. Kumor worked as a private lesson instructor and percussion caption head at several high schools such as Tamaqua, Parkland and Whitehall.
Following his undergraduate, he continued his studies as music performance major at Duquesne University. Kumor worked as a telemarketer representative.
Kumor went on to land a seasonal summer job at Music in the Parks, which was more to his liking and his focus in music. Kumor arranged educational resources for the two-day festival held for choral, orchestral and band ensembles.
After wrapping up his Master’s at Duquesne, Kumor began his Doctoral studies at Kentucky University. Once arriving at Kentucky, Kumor began to question if he was on the right career path because of the talented musicians he thought he could not compare to. “I almost quit music,” said Kumor.
However, hard work and fortitude kept Kumor on the right path. “Going to the practice room and getting better was my only option,” said Kumor. Following his studies at Kentucky, Kumor capitalized on what he called seasonal pocket work. He was able to take on a job at West Chester University, arranging the percussion parts for their marching band. He was then promoted to regional coordinator at Music in the Parks—organizing festivals and conferences.
In August of 1996, Kumor became a marimba artist at Custom Music Company, based out of Michigan. Kumor toured the United States, performing, marketing and organizing catalogues.
“The job was a great gig. I was in charge of everything and I could leave the company for two weeks and do concert tours.” This taught Kumor how to become an entrepreneur. He had the ability to work in academics or the business side of percussion.
Once landing the position at KU in 1997, Kumor’s persistence as an educator never let down. He won the job, but it was only a one-year temporary position. He returned to WCU for one year, acting at assistant band director. Upon his return to KU, Kumor hasn’t looked back.