University Relations and Communications

All about the music: When Codie Wahrman isn't playing it, he's teaching it

April 28, 2010


Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269




MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES —  Codie Wahrman’s higher education trajectory started with a chance recruiting call from a music professor and has rocketed skyward since. And even though he’s graduating from college, he’s still soaring.


Codie Wahrman

In fact, a few days before finals week at Montana State University Billings, Wahrman was continuing his student teaching in music at Billings Central Catholic Schools, assisting with technology needs at the Student Union Building and preparing for final exams. And he was doing it all with his characteristic smile and frequent laughs.


High energy involvement and activity have been the hallmark of Wahrman’s education career at MSU Billings and earned him the honor of being selected one of three recipients of the Outstanding Senior Award for 2009-2010.


Those who know Wahrman are familiar with his passion, sense of service and drive for excellence, traits that have clearly put him above all but a few others in his graduating class. But the clarity of is saxophone talent was what got him here.


About five years ago, the Townsend native was ready to attend another small private college, but when the school dropped its music scholarships, Wahrman was left to develop other plans and was taking general education classes at the UM-Helena College of Technology. Unknown to him, however, Dr. Gary Behm, who at the time was the chair of the music department at MSU Billings, had heard Wahrman play and wanted to chat. He said there was a spot for him at MSU Billings.


“Gary heard me when I auditioned at Rocky,” Wahrman said. “He called and recruited me and we came down for a visit. He gave me that real personal interest and that was impressive.”


Behm was able to help Wahrman find a work-study position in music department, giving him the start he needed. He hasn’t stopped since.


Wahrman kept his work-study position during his entire time at MSU Billings and used his time to get fully involved as a student. He’s worked as a resident assistant for a year, played in the Yellowjacket pep band for three years and has been involved for three years in HEROES (Health Educators Reaching Others and Encouraging Success). He has also worked for two years as a Student Union Building manager, working on event management ranging from faculty celebrations to Montana History Day.


“His devotion to the Union is unparalleled and I often forget he is a student and one with so many other obligations,” said Kristin Peterman, Student Union Building and university events coordinator. “He not only represents the Student Union well, but the entire university.”


Taking a cue from his mentor, Wahrman has spent time in the past couple years with Behm recruiting other music students. He was also intricately involved in the department’s recent accreditation visit, providing student input on the quality of the program and the university. 


“Codie has been one of the most reliable and hard working student workers the Department of Music has ever had,” said Dorothea Cromley, the department’s current chair. “His attitude from the onset has been positive and upbeat and he is always willing to take on any project that he is given, which can come from any of the department faculty or staff.”


Adept at juggling projects with homework and student teaching, Wahrman recently showed off one of the recent accomplishments. A new resource library at the music department is home to scores of CDs donated to the university when longtime library Jeffrey Edgmond passed away three years ago. Music students and faculty sorted and cataloged the CDs and Wahrman helped print and label them. All 6,500 of them.


“It’s amazing what’s here,” he said, rows of Chopin, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky behind him. 


Like the varied and diverse collection of music in the resource library, Wahrman said he most valued the diversity of experiences at MSU Billings.


“My best experience as the atmosphere of the whole university,” he said. “And the faculty were great. They actually know about you and take an interest in what you’re doing.”


Graduating with a 3.89 GPA on Saturday with a music education degree, Wahrman said he plans on using his experience as a student teacher at Central schools (he taught music to students in grades 3-12) to find a job teaching music. In the meantime, he has been busy setting up the SUB for events, supporting fellow students at recitals and being an ambassador for the music department.


Being busy, however, has its rewards and Wahrman tells new students that being involved and engaged will be a lasting benefit.


“Take the time at the beginning to get to know the professors,” he said when asked about his advice to new freshmen. “And get to know the resources available to you. I will pay off in the end.”


PHOTO ABOVE: Townsend native Codie Wahrman is one of three graduating seniors to be chosen to receive the Outstanding Senior Award at Montana State University Billings this spring. He is sitting in the new music resource library he helped organize in the MSU Billings Department of Music.


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