What I’ve learned from Bradley Kauffman


by Ken Rodgers – Music Faculty

Bradley Kauffman is finishing his final semester at Hesston College. Photo by Eleya Raim.
Bradley Kauffman is finishing his final semester as music faculty and director of Bel Canto at Hesston College. Photo by Eleya Raim.

One of the first things I noticed when I first met Bradley Kauffman is that he is a person of carefully chosen words.  In music rehearsals, this means that more time is spent singing rather than in explanation.  In writing, he communicates in succinct, elegant sentences which often illumine profound ideas.  Plus, I have rarely met a better editor or proof reader.    He is also able to spot a typographical error a mile away.  And redundancy, beware!  You are short-lived on the page.

Bradley is also a very creative person.  This is perhaps best reflected in his choice of programming around the Hesston College Common Read book during the past few years.  Digging for music which might relate to the theme gives him great energy.  Crafting the program to include excerpts from the books only adds to the power of the experience for singers and audience.  These programs have been an exciting addition to the Common Read program at Hesston College as well as a much anticipated time in the music department year.

Bradley appreciates quality in all things.  This might be a well-made piece of furniture, an elegant meal made with locally grown food, or a well-built engine.  In all these areas, Bradley brings an incredible amount of knowledge and appreciation of that which is well done.  Above all, this is translated into his own work as a musician, composer, conductor and teacher.

The push to be better, to appreciate quality and to hold to high standards are things which I see in Bradley and have had a lasting impact on many students and on the Hesston College Music Department.

Finally, having traveled with Bradley around the country and across much of Europe, one of the things I will miss most is his sense of humor.  He has a way of seeing the world through the skillful eyes of a person enjoying the journey of life with a love the quirky, and of an awareness of social commentary which impacts us all.

Bradley’s gifts as an excellent teacher and conductor will be missed.  But even more, his care for students, colleagues and the world around him will leave us all with a deep sense of loss.  Best wishes on the journey ahead!  You will do well wherever you land!


by Galed Krisjayanta – Sophomore

I first met Bradley Kauffman in the Northlawn hallway after I missed my first Bel Canto rehearsal. I had slept through it after my 23-hour flight from Indonesia to the United States. So my first meeting with him was kind of interesting, mixed with my guilty feeling of what I did before. Before we go further, basically my first month in Hesston College was rough since I had never been in the United States before.  My English speaking level was low, and I did not know much about American cultures.

“Let’s go to my office. We need to talk about some stuff,” Bradley said.

The words that came to my mind were, “Galed, you are done! You did a terrible mistake!” But I could not say anything because I was too scared to answer even a simple question. Trust me; it was intense.

It turned out that all of my bad expectations were wrong! He just wanted to talk to me about my travel and he wanted to know me more – personally and about my musical performance.

In my sophomore year, I decided to change my major to music performance, and I took Music Theory 1 class last semester with Bradley. I feel I know him better not only as a conductor, but also as a teacher. To be honest, music theory was a totally new language for me. I could not hide my confused face in the class, and I know that Bradley noticed my struggle. Even without asking him for help, he initiated giving me a special lesson with him after the class hour.

For me, Bradley is a teacher who express his care in a unique way. During our meeting, he helped me understanding the material by showing me every single detail of the subject. It worked! I passed the class. Without the guidance from Bradley, I would not have passed the class.

Since then, every time I start to learn something new, I always remember to learn the detail of the subject. Looking at the matter of music, Bradley taught us to respect the music by knowing the meaning, history, and the purpose of the song even before we sing it at the choir.

The other thing that I learned from him is commitment; I decided to be a singer, so I have to commit myself to come on time, personal practice, and how I maintain my voice. From strangers to family, that’s how I see Bel Canto Singers now, and Bradley has always been our father role in the choir: How he shows his passion in conducting, and how he appreciates our work is truly something that I will not forget.

Editor’s note: Bradley Kauffman will move with his family to the Cincinnati, Ohio area where his wife, Renee will serve as pastor of Cincinnati Mennonite Fellowship.  Bradley has served conductor of Bel Canto and concert band at Hesston College for the past eight years. 


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