Blog Faculty

Dr. Kristen Bugos Brings Her Love of Music to the Classroom

By Melissa Brookman on Thursday, August 30, 2018


A new face has joined the Northwestern community. Dr. Kristen Bugos is sharing the joy of music with music education majors. Previously she worked as the Coordinator of Music Education at a small Christian college in Texas for seven years.

Dr. Bugos shared what motivated her to seek a position at Northwestern.

“Two different colleagues shared the Northwestern job posting with me because they thought it sounded so much like me. I investigated the university and the position and felt that I would indeed fit well. Throughout the interview process I was impressed with the genuine Christian spirit and commitment to excellence in academics and performance I saw in faculty, students, staff, and administrators. After much thought and prayer, I feel confident that God has led me here. I am excited for this opportunity and am looking forward to the beginning of the school year,” said Dr. Bugos.

From a young age, Dr. Bugos enjoyed teaching other children, and she knew she was called to teach.

“I have always wanted to share what I know with others and guide them to learn for themselves. From childhood onward I organized all sorts of classes and lessons for my younger sisters and neighborhood kids, including writing my own textbooks and putting on programs. I also loved music and spent many hours practicing piano, singing, listening to classical music, and participating in band and choir at school. As an eighth grader I wrote in my journal that I thought I might want to be a music teacher when I grew up. I thought briefly that I might like to teach English but entered college as a music education major and did not waiver in that choice.

She gained a lot of experience teaching elementary general music and beginning bands and then decided to pursue her Ph.D., and from there, college teaching.

“I love to be part of the process as freshmen who don’t yet know what they don’t know build on their strengths, develop skills, and gain the knowledge, experience, and confidence to leave college as competent educators. Their idealism, energy, and creativity are energizing,” said Dr. Bugos.

She also works with children in infant and toddler music classes and at church and she hopes to continue to do so in the Twin Cities.

Dr. Bugos also spends her time as a church pianist and worship leader. She said she enjoys singing in the choir and playing recorder for contemplative Taizé and Celtic services.

“Making music with others is a special experience and doing it expressly for the glory of God adds an additional dimension. I enjoy selecting pieces to help the congregation reflect on a scripture or the service theme and sharing a bit of the beauty of God’s creation with them as a means of worship for both myself and them. In recent years I have not been a full-time church pianist but have filled in at various churches for varying lengths of time as needed. It is always a pleasure to become acquainted with other parts of the body of Christ and to use my abilities to serve others, said Dr. Bugos.

She encourages people to learn to play piano even if they think they are too old.

“I can’t tell you how many times people have come up to me after a service to tell me they always wanted to learn to play the piano. It’s never too late to start, but college is a great time to learn and I don’t say that only because I teach piano classes,” said. Dr. Bugos.

Aside from music, Dr. Bugos is also a busy woman both inside and outside of the classroom. She was recently a foster parent to three little girls in two different placements, ranging from 2 1/2 to 11 years old.

“Foster parenting is very difficult yet very rewarding. Through it, I felt that I was truly living the love of Christ for ones who needed it very much. I gained a great deal more empathy for those struggling in life circumstances I can only imagine, and realized more fully that it is truly by God’s grace that I have the good life I do. Studying attachment and sensory disorders, drug addiction, abuse and neglect, and various other behavioral and mental health issues was required for licensing and continues to inform my work in education. I am more aware of the diversity of experiences and needs students bring into the classroom,” said Dr. Bugos.

Becoming a foster parent also confirmed the idea that time and circumstances are rarely perfectly aligned, but she said that doesn’t need to keep you from doing things.

“I was single, far away from my extended family, and employed full-time, yet I still had a lot I could share. I got my first placement the week before school started which was not the most convenient time, and later ended up with a difficult toddler when I had intended only to take school-aged children because of my work schedule. Yet, it worked,” said Dr. Bugos.

She does not expect to foster for a little while as she gets acclimated to her new home and job, but she does hope to get involved again in one way or another, sooner or later. In the mean time she takes care of her dog Coco, a shy, sweet, rescued mixed-breed.