School of Music: Heather Hamilton

Heather Hamilton is the new Director of the Community Music School (CMS) and Clarinet Studio Instructor at the University of Northern Iowa. As the director of CMS, she manages the UNI Children’s Choir, the New Horizons Band, as well as other organizations and events in the CMS. Hamilton is originally from Moline, Illinois and recently moved to the Waterloo area from Lexington, Kentucky. In past years, she has worked in music retail, has managed various music studios, and taught clarinet for several years. Hamilton has also performed professionally with various music groups, such as with Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra, the Quad City Opera Company, and the Quad City Symphony. Hamilton decided to pursue music education due to her love for music. “Music has always been a passion of mine,” she said, “with two parents that worked as musicians and educators, I could not help but follow in their footsteps!” 

One of the organizations at CMS is the UNI New Horizons Band directed by Diana Blake, a retired band director. The band is made up of adults that are 50 years of age or “better”. Hamilton explained that New Horizons’ philosophy is that “every person has the musical potential that can be developed to a level that will be personally rewarding”. The band is made up of nearly 80 members today. According to Hamilton, the Horizons Band is hoping to expand its membership size, and form more groups within the band. “We are also hoping to add more members, create a second group strictly for adult musicians who are at the very beginning stages of learning their instrument, and form a UNI New Horizons Jazz Band,” she said.

The UNI Children’s Choir (UNICC), another organization part of the CMS, is directed by Michelle Swanson. UNICC has performed with several musical groups, such as the UNI Chamber Orchestra. The UNICC has upcoming performances at a Black Hawks Game, and the Midwest Children’s Choir Festival. Hamilton says UNICC hopes to grow in membership size, travel to and perform as a national conference, as well as host a singing festival on campus. 

The New Horizons band, and the UNI Children’s Choir hosted fall concerts: UNICC performed their winter concert on Friday, 

December 9 at 7:00 pm in the Bengston Auditorium in Russell Hall. New Horizons presented their concert on Monday, October 12 at 7:30 P.M. in the Great Hall at Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center. 

A vital part of CMS is its private lessons to students taught by studio teachers and UNI music students. CMS currently teaches a 

variety of instruments such as piano, woodwind, brass, and percussion to approximately 180 students each week. New students are accepted throughout the year, as well as during the summer. Hamilton stated that more information about CMS can be found at the website

Hamilton is excited to continue work at UNI, and looks forward to all the events happening at the Community Music School. “I am excited to be a part of the UNI Faculty … and look forward to all the exciting things we have happening at CMS!” Hamilton concluded.