ABOUT KATIE BERGLØF
Hailing from the Midwest, Katie was adopted along with her identical twin sister as newborn infants from El Salvador during the 1984 civil war. They were raised in the tiny town of Sherwood, North Dakota on a small rural farm. Katie and her sister had a passion for music from an early age and both enrolled in private piano lessons at the age of 5. In middle school Katie took up classical guitar and violin lessons; earning a guitar scholarship to the International Peace Gardens Summer Music Program in Canada; and her sister took up the trumpet and started participating in solo and state competitions.
In 1999 half of the Berglof family moved to Carroll Iowa, where Katie at the age of 15 was coaxed into playing the French horn in the high school band if she wanted to accept the guitar position in the jazz band. Although she took private jazz guitar lessons in Omaha Nebraska every weekend. The genre was not her forte.
Surprisingly Katie ended up falling in love with the horn after her band director Dr. Frederick Burrack gave her a recording of a professional horn player. She took the recording home over summer, bought all the Mozart horn concertos, and started playing along with the recordings every day. The following year Katie won all 1st chair and principal positions in several honor bands, all-state, and was both a finalist and winner of a handful of scholarship competitions; often having to compete against her twin in the finals. Her senior year she was a finalist in the Northwest Iowa Bandmasters Major Landers Scholarship competition and performed at the Iowa Music Education Associations conference.
During Katie and her sister's time in Carroll Iowa, a missionary worker from the U.S. who was stationed in El Salvador reached out to the Berglof family to inform them that the biological family of Katie and Allie were looking for them.
Katie and her sister found out that their biological mother didn't want to give them up for adoption, but because they were born prematurely and severe medical needs (Katie needed to undergo heart surgery, and both infants were having seizures and malnutrition issues), the hospital told the biological family they could not afford to keep the twins.
The biological family decided everyone would come together to pay whatever amount needed to cover the medical costs, but when they went to the hospital to visit the twins the following day (the mother remained at a midwives house due to illness from the placenta), the hospital had already put the twins up for adoption without the family consent and would not give the family information on where the twins were. The family went through tremendous pain, anger, and frustration. They prayed to someday find the twins again.
Katie and her sister were able to fly their biological mother to Iowa in 2001 after the missionary worker reached out to them. Their biological mother Dalia Estella Beltran stayed with them for a year and was miraculously given free emergency surgery for a ruptured appendix on the day of her departure flight after the adoption story was shared in the newspapers.
Katie and her sister were able to come into contact with most of their biological siblings over the phone, mail, internet, and in later years via skype and facebook.
Due to Katie's parents preference of a private christian Methodist-based in-state school, Katie and her sister started off their college career at Morningside College in Sioux City Iowa. Katie held principal horn of the Sioux City Youth Symphony and her sister principal trumpet in 2002. Although her time spent there was very short, she had a supportive professor (Dr. Michael Berger - principal horn Sioux City Symphony). Due to her professors friendship with the famous UK horn soloist (and professor of horn at the Royal Academy of Music) Michael Thompson, Katie was able to attend the Michael Thompson Summer Horn Course where she and a small handful of hornist studied with him. The course usually took place in Italy, but was moved to the U.S. briefly. Before Katie moved, she won the college concerto competition and performed R. Strauss 1st horn concerto, mov.1, in Eppley auditorium.
In 2004 Katie's twin sister transferred to the University of Northern Colorado, and Katie won an associate principal horn position with the Bismarck Symphony Orchestra in North Dakota where she took private lessons with Tom Porter; professor of choir at Bismarck State at the time, and a Northwestern Alum/MA-performance horn whose teacher was Ethel Merker (the designer of Katie's horn).
In 2005 Katie returned to her undergraduate music studies at the University of Northern Colorado. At UNC she studied with horn professor Marian Hesse, and was principal horn of the brass choir and symphonic band, played in a brass quintet, and substituted as principal horn of the university orchestra and wind ensemble a few times in her last semester. Due to the cost of out-of-state tuition, Katie transferred to the University of Northern Iowa one year later in 2006.
With a huge amount of respect for Dr. Thomas Tritle while growing up, Katie was thrilled to study with him at UNI. In the Summer of 2006 Dr. Tritle nominated Katie for a teaching assistantship position under Michael Thornton (professor at CU-Boulder/principal horn Colorado Symphony) at the Rocky Ridge Music Festival. Unfortunately, Katie could not afford the cost to attend, but was honored to be offered the position.
In 2007 Dr. Tritle retired and Dr. Tina Su became the professor of horn. During this time Katie was principal horn of the Northern Iowa Symphony Orchestra, the Wartburg Symphony Orchestra, Northern Iowa Wind Symphony, and Brass Choir. She also performed in woodwind quintet, horn quartet, and horn choir. She loved chamber music and performed Ewazen's trio for flute, horn, and piano on her recital. Her favorite memories were of performing 4 Songs, Op. 17 by Brahms, for 2 horns, female chorus, and harp. As well, performing the solo horn in the piece Missa Kenya by Paul Basler for large choir, horn, percussion, and piano. Katie also enjoyed premiering a composition by the award-winning jazz composer Michael Conrad called Aggression for Horn and Piano. Katie had no regrets and felt she fulfilled her dream of playing principal horn/solo horn on many bucket-list major orchestral works she never thought she would get to complete in her lifetime.
During Katie's time at UNI she received valuable feedback and guidance while seeking out private instruction, masterclasses, and workshops with the following professionals/guest artists; Dale Clevenger, Thomas Jostlein, Bill Caballero, Elizabeth Freimuth, Michael Thompson, Jeff Agrell, David Thompson, John Ericson, John Cerminaro, Kaz Machala, and The Four Hornsmen.
In 2008/2009 Katie was a finalist in the university concerto competition, she also went on tour with the orchestra, started visiting graduate schools, auditioned for the Chicago Civic Orchestra, and did a recording track for a band called the Midwest Hackers. Katie's sister (Allie) had won a 2nd trumpet position sitting next to principal Philip Dungey (daughter Natalie Dungey also played with the orchestra) in the Northwest Symphony of Seattle. Also in 2009 Katie met Thomas Jostlein who she originally wanted to study horn with at the University of Illinois Champagne-Urbana for graduate studies.
In late 2009 the severely noticeable symptoms of Focal Embouchure Dystonia started to appear, and by early 2010 it had progressed to a point that Katie could no longer play. The last piece she performed was Mozart's 4th horn concerto, and the last piece she played principal horn on was Brahms Symphony No. 2.
In 2010 during her last semester of college, her professor and orchestra conductor wrote nomination letters to Balu Music to enter her in a mute contest. Ion Balu decided to do a live video of the final drawing on the lawn of the Washington Monument for the 6 finalists. He put numbers in a glass bowl, and while he went to draw the winning number, a random wind gust picked up and blew a tiny piece of paper directly into his hand. Ion said, "This one must want to win. Let's see who's number it is." The winning number was Katie. Although this may seem like a small thing to win, the nomination was in an effort to cheer Katie up and motivate to keep believing in her journey. When she won, Katie took it as a positive sign that although things were looking grim, everything happens for a reason and that she was meant to take this path for a cause or greater reason than she could comprehend at the time.
After graduation and unable to pursue graduate school on horn, she thought of going into Music Therapy but realized it wasn't her passion or calling the moment she traveled out to visit a prospective graduate school.
Fortunately while living in her home state of North Dakota from 2011-2013, Katie started volunteering at Erik Ramstad Middle School (which was relocated to a hockey arena during a massive flood) and taught private instrumental instruction. She also taught private lessons to students at Bishop Ryan High School. She loved working with the students so much and was surprised to find she wanted to pursue teaching. During this time she also started her blog Living with Embouchure Dystonia.
COLLEGE/GRADUATE STUDIES & TEACHING CAREER
In 2013 Katie was accepted to CU-Boulder for graduate studies in instrumental music education. While at CU-Boulder she taught trumpet instruction in the CU-Middle School Ensemble, and traveled to Lyons High School, Boulder High School, and Lousiville Middle School for practicum while fulfilling coursework and holding a full-time job.
In the fall of 2015 Katie was honored to accept a full-time teaching artist and program assistant position with El Sistema Colorado; a nonprofit organization aiming to change lives through music, brining music education into low income schools and directly into contact with at-risk youth within the Denver Public School district.
In 2017 Katie started her own private lesson business called Berglof Music Lessons, and taught private instrumental instruction for American Music School, Taylor Robinson Music, and Music & Arts in Denver, Lakewood, and Westminster Colorado.
During this year she also participated in a Focal Embouchure Dystonia Research study overseen by Dr. Perlmutter in St. Louis, Missouri at the University of Washington.
In fall of 2019, Katie was hired at the University of Denver Newman Performing Arts Center in Music Education Outreach and Engagement as an Education Assistant. During this time she unfortunately suffered from catastrophic setbacks in health and in her personal life.
She moved to Washington state (where her twin sister resides) in January 2020 before the pandemic hit and a parent passed away. It was a challenging year where she received two major surgeries, lost over eighty pounds, overcame C-PTSD. However, she found solace in starting her Musicians Dystonia and Injury Live Talk series, in recovering her health, improving her playing, and enrolling in a university.
Katie is currently pursuing her masters degree in non-profit arts leadership. She enjoys playing horn with the Pacific Northwest Chamber Orchestra, and also plays in a brass quintet (Hilltop Brass) with her twin sister and brother-in-law (both trumpet players).
I don't know what God has planned for my future or if I am capable of accomplishing much for those who have suffered the loss of something indispensable to them. However, I want to give a huge thank you to my family, friends, mentors, blog readers, and musicians who have reached out to me who have continually supported, motivated, and inspired me to persevere in life and to never give up on my dreams and goals.