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Making music makes this junior feel ‘fulfilled, proud’

Meet the Future: Kai Christiansen

Kai Christiansen performs some improv on a keyboard

Name: Kai Christiansen
School: Godwin Heights High School
Passion: Writing and producing music

Godwin Heights — Junior Kai Christiansen has been around music long enough to learn that “Mostly … it’s a very fine balance between the instrumentation and the melody, and sometimes the vocals, and it’s really hard to express a certain emotion in music.”

The point of it all: “that you’re trying to get somebody to feel a special emotion. (And) when you do so accurately, it pays off immensely.”

Kai said there’s a real sense of satisfaction in finishing a piece. 

“I feel fulfilled, proud. Like, ‘Wow, this thing sounds nice and I made that.’”

How old were you when music became something you wanted to pursue, and what’s the story there? “I started playing piano when I was about 6 or 7. Not lessons; I play by ear, and I remember doing this very early without even really realizing what I was doing, learning songs that I knew by ear.”

Do you remember the very first song you learned by ear? “It was ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.’ The second one was ‘I Gotta Feeling’ by the Black Eyed Peas. I didn’t know what the note names were, but there were little icons for drums above the keys, and I would find the icon, and I would tap the note, and I would be like, ‘That’s the first note of the song.’”

Kai got a music editing program around 2019, “so I guess that’s when it changed from covering music to making music, such as original songs.”

Since 2022, Kai has made six digitally recorded albums that are available on Spotify under the name “Coffeebug.” 

‘It is fun as the teacher to just give an idea or a concept to a student and see them run with it and come up with something that blows you away.’

— Band Director Luke Marlowe

Related accomplishments: Kai moved to the district freshman year and got involved in the high school’s music program by accompanying the choir on piano, and joined the band sophomore year. 

Kai recently was featured in GHHS’s art and music showcase held at The Stray, a cafe and music venue in Wyoming.

“That song was a cover of a Mario song. It was kind of like a spontaneous thing, because the drummer was playing a thing and then I played along with it, and (band director Luke) Marlowe said, ‘You guys should play that at the art show.’”

While the piece itself was written, Kai said their solos during the performance were spontaneous. “That was just off the top of my head at the time. You know, like improv.”

Any GH teachers who are helping you explore your passion? 

“Mr. Marlowe has (been supportive). He knows probably the most about music, like more than any other music teacher that I’ve had. And he’s encouraged my work and listened to a few of my albums; he said they were great. But mostly, he allows a lot of flexibility on the things that we play. … Mr. Marlowe’s very encouraging. He trusts the musical decisions that I make.”

Marlowe called Kai  “an excellent musician.”

“Not many students have the ability to hear things and pick them up so quickly,” he said. “Kai is also ambitious and creative, and learns things about music and technology outside of class, and often teaches me things as well. It is fun as the teacher to just give an idea or a concept to a student and see them run with it and come up with something that blows you away.”

Future plans? Kai hopes to pursue music and music production after high school, and is thinking about Michigan State University.

“Hopefully, in 10 years I’ll be producing music for a game company or movies. Or maybe just producing music for individual artists, but I definitely see myself doing what I’m doing now.”

Hobbies besides music? Kai enjoys game design, art, coding and web design.

Read more from Godwin Heights: 
A dream builder
His most enduring style: A diploma

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Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma is a reporter covering Kent ISD, Godwin Heights, Kelloggsville, Forest Hills and Comstock Park. The salutatorian for the Hartland Public Schools class of 1985, she changed her colors from blue and maize to green and white by attending Michigan State University, where she majored in journalism. Joanne moved to the Grand Rapids area in 1989, where she started her journalism career at the Advance Newspapers. She later became the editor for On-the-Town magazine, a local arts and entertainment publication. Her eldest daughter is a nurse, working in Holland, and her youngest attends Oakland University. Both are graduates from Byron Center High School. She is a volunteer for the Van Singel Fine Arts Advisory Board and the Kent District Library. In her free time, Joanne enjoys spending time with her family, checking out local theater and keeping up with all the exchange students they have hosted through the years. Read Joanne's full bio


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