Like many students who receive Shooting Stars awards and nominations, Kristy Carter chose to pursue an education and career in science, rather than in the arts. Yet, Kristy says, her involvement with music has always been a foundational part of her life that resulted in strong study habits, a desire to achieve and a path that led to accomplishment in pursuing her education to the highest level.
Shooting Stars alum Kristy Carter is now pursuing a co-Ph.D. in meteorology and wind energy science, engineering, and policy, yet her love of playing music has never waned. Considering one focus of her studies is in wind, it seems only fitting that Kristy received the Shooting Stars top scholarship award for wind and percussion in 2009.
An Olathe North graduate, Kristy started playing violin at age 3 and switched to the french horn in fifth grade. Her mom is an orchestra director, and also a violin player, so Kristy said she wanted to play something different than her mom. At the time, Kristy asked for the hardest instrument to play, so she started playing the french horn as it is a difficult instrument to master as a beginning wind player. It wasn’t long before Kristy did become proficient at playing french horn. She continued to excel by taking music classes in elementary, middle and high school and private lessons.
When Kristy started in college at Iowa State University, she began as a double major in music and meteorology but dropped music to a minor when the classes started conflicting. Even though music became her minor, Kristy has continued playing french horn throughout her academic career. As an undergraduate student at Iowa State, she played in the marching band, orchestra, and wind ensemble. While at the University of South Carolina to earn a Masters degree in Geography, Kristy played in the University’s Horn Studio. Now back at Iowa State and pursuing her Ph.D., she plays in the Iowa State Wind Ensemble.
Music has always been a central part of Kristy’s life, and she said being a musician gave her many benefits that helped with her education. What she gained from playing an instrument has transferred to all of her studies. Playing music gave Kristy a strong work ethic because to master her instrument, she always had to practice. That meant getting good at time management to make time in her schedule for homework and practicing. She started her time management strategies in elementary school, and this self-disclipline has served her well through graduate school. As she takes on higher level science and math courses, playing music gives Kristy something she can do for fun. Being part of these music groups on campus also has been a great way to meet new people.
“For me, growing up and playing music correlated with good study habits,” Kristy said. “My sense of hard work came from music because I had to practice on my own and stay on top of more challenging material as I grew as a musician. Doing that with music translates really well to academics because it helped me form really strong study habits. Now, when I want an escape from my studies, I play my music. Music not only reduces my stress, but also gives me something to do that I really enjoy.”
When Kristy received the top Shooting Star award for Wind and Percussion in 2009, she said that award gave her a strong sense of accomplishment and an indication that her hard work paid off. When asked what advice she would give to a future Shooting Stars nominees and award recipients, Kristy encourages all students to continue with their artistic talent.
“Even if you don’t pursue music (or another art form) as your major,” Kristy said, “continue to play your music because it is an extraordinarily powerful outlet to continue throughout your life. Don’t give it up – keep playing. Stay in a small ensemble or find another way to keep your music in your life – you won’t regret it.”