Katie Brennan was a cellist in YOBC from 1998–2003, starting in Concert Orchestra and then spending four years in Symphony Orchestra. “Sunday practices at BCCC were something I would look forward to, and I made many good friends through YOBC,” Katie says. “Since my middle/high school program was strings only, playing with YOBC was a wonderful opportunity for me to work on some orchestral repertoire throughout the school year, versus waiting for County/Districts/Regionals.”
In the summer of 2002, Katie was a member of YOBC’s first international tour ensemble, visiting Austria and Germany with the group. “I loved getting to perform and listen to other groups, of course,” Katie recalls, “and shopping at Nuremburg and touring Neuschwanstein really stand out in my mind.”
Music was Katie’s main focus in school. For her undergraduate degree at The College of New Jersey, she majored in elementary education with a focus in music. “Any of my free time was spent practicing and participating in as many ensembles as possible,” she says. “I even convinced the Music Department to allow me to have a senior recital, even though it was not required or typically done for those in my major.”
Although Katie enjoyed teaching, she decided to keep performing and see what opportunities would come up if she went to graduate school for performance. She was accepted to Penn State University for her masters in cello performance, and “it really changed my playing and musicianship for the better,” she says. “Getting to only focus on music for a couple of years was an amazing thing.”
After her masters, Katie got married and she and her husband moved to Texas for his work. While there, she had an active teaching studio and was able to keep taking lessons herself and perform at weddings and other gigs. Once they moved back to the Philadelphia area, Katie really put that aspect of her business out there through her website and Facebook page. She stopped taking new students so that she could focus on weddings, events, and her other jobs.
Those other jobs include dog training, which has become a huge aspect of Katie’s life. After getting married, she and her husband got a puppy, and “she was a bit of a crazy one!” Katie explains. She attended training classes with her, but it didn’t seem to work. So Katie learned how to do it all on her own, and after a lot of time and effort, “that same dog has set many records and won high awards in various sports, and is just an overall amazing girl,” Katie notes proudly.
Katie also shows her dogs. She has four: three Finnish Spitz and a Sheltie. They all participate in various dog sports—agility, nose work, and obedience, to name a few. “I used to do dog training full time; I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant,” Katie says, “but I do not take on nearly as many private clients at this time due to my full-time job. I still take on private cases every once and a while, however, and I also teach agility classes regularly. Soon I will be launching an online dog training school with a colleague, so we’ve been working hard to get that going!”
Katie’s new job is serving as the Animal Control Officer (ACO) with the Middletown Township Police Department. This job has an office and set hours Monday through Friday. However, Katie is also on call 24/7 if the need arises. The job entails responding to loose or stray dog calls, handling animal nuisance complaints (such as noise), and dealing with dog bite cases, among other things. “If I can help with a wild animal call, I certainly will,” she says, “but I do not have all of the necessary equipment and training to handle those types of things, so I just do what I can.” Also through her position as an ACO, she works with two certified therapy dogs that act as canine ambassadors for community events and other outreach. They participate in police department functions as well as reading programs at schools in the township.
Katie says she is thankful that she grew up playing cello and that she got to participate in YOBC. “I believe that music has helped teach me how to express myself better and has allowed me to develop discipline in other aspects of my life, especially in terms of time management, setting short- and long-term goals, and working as part of a team.” While music might not be Katie’s main focus at this point in her life, she still keeps growing as a musician and works hard to keep performing as much as possible.