Katherine Coe, a 2011 graduate of Virginia Tech, has been involved in music "for as long as[she] can remember." Coe began playing the piano at age seven, followed by flute and guitar. As her love for performing developed, she began to express interest in recording her music, and her technological explorations began. What had started as a hobby quickly developed into a passion, and when Coe started her college search, the Music Technology program at Virginia Tech immediately drew her interest. After touring the campus and meeting with piano professor Tracy Cowden, Coe’s decision was made. “Everything clicked,” she explained.

During her time at Virginia Tech, Coe performed in multiple concerts and played solo recitals in her junior and senior years. In addition to her academic pursuits, she searched for opportunities to share her talents away from Virginia Tech. When Professor Cowden told her about the First Annual Hollywood Competition, a contest held by the world-renowned pianist Carter Larsen, Coe decided to take part. The competition required participants to submit two videos: one piano performance of a classical piece, and a performance of a Larsen composition. To assemble her entry, Coe took advantage of the music department’s downtown recording studio and editorial resources provided by the Innovation Space.

Katherine Coe at the piano

Katherine Coe at the piano

Coe developed an impressive repertoire and began assembling her work into a concrete portfolio at the beginning of her senior year. Her prior experience working with a range of media led her to believe that a traditionally styled album was not the most imaginative way to share her music. Instead, Coe built an entire website. Though she had no formal training in web design, she learned to format and code online to exhibit her work in an innovative way. This multimedia approach gave Coe an outlet to show off her musical abilities, as well as her skill and creativity in graphic and web design.

One of the required classes for music majors at Virginia Tech is an “Intermediate MIDI Applications” course, which familiarizes students with basic recording, compositional, and design technologies and gave Coe an introduction toinformation that would be essential to building her first website. When it came time to begin assembling her body of work, Coe turned to technology professor Michael Dunston; together, the two worked to code and construct a clean, visually appealing online portfolio to showcase Coe’s musical and graphic projects. The final product can be seen at http://www.music.vt.edu/alumni/coek/. Host to audio recordings, visual arts, and personal reflections, the website is an elegant digital portrait of her musical and educational career.

Immediately after graduating from Virginia Tech, Coe packed a bag and a journal of research she had compiled about jobs in the music industry and headed to Nashville, Tennessee. It was a bold move on her part: “I’d never been to Nashville until graduation day,” Coe admits, but she knew at once that Music City was where she wanted to be. “I had to step out my comfort zone a lot, but what I found is that so many people in Nashville are here for the same reason I am: because they love music, too.”

Coe’s confidence paid off, and she found a job with a music management company that put her multimedia talents to use promoting up-and-coming artists like Tony Kerr and Sarah Jarosz. Her commissions include designing and building websites, editing videos, and creating advertisements for local concerts and events throughout Nashville, a city she has quickly adopted as a second home. “I love the friendly people, the city lights, and the music everywhere,” she says. “It’s where I belong!” Coe hopes that she can continue to combine her passion for music and technology throughout Nashville and beyond. Her experience so far has been, in her own words, “a dream come true.”

The success of her first website led Coe to put together a second site, titled “Coe Chic,” to showcase the work she has completed post-graduation (http://www.coechic.com)—highlighting her music, photography, web page designs, and other multimedia projects like videos and concert posters.