The first two winners of the Axel Theimer Choral/Vocal Music Education Scholarship named – CSB/SJU

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Alyssa Wedin describes Axel Theimer as a mentor.

It is fitting, therefore, that the College of Saint Benedict senior is one of the first two recipients of the scholarship created by the longtime choir director and professor at the music department at CSB and Saint John’s University, which will end the 2020-21 school year in went into retirement.

The other recipient is Ben Ascheman, a sophomore at SJU.

“He really is the greatest mentor I’ve had at Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s,” said Wedin, a Chanhassen, Minn. student who currently teaches in the Bloomington, Minn. School District and hopes to find a full-time position teaching music in the sister cities at either elementary or middle school level by the start of the school year next fall.

“Not only was I in the choir with him for the first three years, he was the professor who taught my conducting classes. I also worked in the music department so I got to know him pretty well over the course of my time here. He has helped shape me not only into the musician I am today, but also into the educator I am now and hope to be in the future.”

The Axel Theimmer Scholarship Fund for Choral/Vocal Music Education was established to help students studying choral and vocal music education at CSB and SJU. The award is merit-based, is available to sophomore through senior year students, and is renewable annually so long as the recipient continues to take the department’s main sequence of choral/vocal music education.

The foundations were established by Theimer in 2013 (SJU) and 2017 (CSB).

“My main goal was and is to make future prospective choir/vocal teachers aware of how much music and music pedagogy are valued at the CSB/SJU,” said Theimer. “That we have a very successful and attractive program and many very successful graduates in practice. Also to offer financial support to alleviate the ever-increasing financial burden and financial challenges.

“What would the world be without music? Whatever we can do to help make education more affordable for future musicians, I think that’s a worthy goal. I hope the foundation thrives and we can support the students in a way that encourages them to take a closer look at our schools, knowing that music and music education is valued here.”

Ascheman, a graduate of Hastings (Minnesota) High School, met Theimer as a first grader and has had another opportunity to meet him this year as Theimer continues to have a presence in the music department.

“I’m really grateful for the opportunity to work with Axel,” said Ascheman, whose goal is to become a high school choir teacher. “He really understands people and their voice. He’s been doing it for so long it’s natural for him.”

Both Ascheman and Wedin said they are grateful to Theimer and the other donors who made this grant possible.

“It means a lot to me,” Ascheman said. “It’s so helpful. I’m really grateful.”

“It’s such a great honor,” added Wedin. “Just thinking of all the lives he has touched in the 50+ years that he has been with CSB and SJU. It is such a vast network of people he has influenced that it is truly humbling to be named as one of the first recipients of a grant that will continue his legacy.”

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