Published: July 12, 2017 By

Claire Gunsbury with her flute

Claire Gunsbury

This fall, Claire Gunsbury officially becomes a Music Buff. The flutist from Minnesota is coming to CU Boulder with help from the Sher Distinguished Musician Scholarship.

“It was hard to believe at first,” Gunsbury says. “I am incredibly grateful for this amazing opportunity to continue studying music without the added stress of paying for school. I look forward to being an ambassador for the university both now and for years to come.”

Donated by the Sie Foundation in honor of former dean and professor emeritus Daniel Sher and his wife, Boyce, the full-ride scholarship is awarded to one incoming undergraduate or graduate music student every other year. The gift from John J. and Anna Sie amounts to $2 million—or $50,000 per student.

Gunsbury, who grew up in the central Minnesota city of Brainerd, has a family history in music. Her mother played the flute through college and was part of the reason Gunsbury herself took up the instrument.

“The summer before we started band—in fifth grade—I found my mom’s flute and she showed me how to play it. By seventh grade I knew I wanted to be a musician. I just kind of fell in love with it and can’t see myself doing anything else.”

She says though she played violin and piano as a child, she knew the flute was made for her.

“I love the sound of the flute and the way it feels to play. I just feel like I can be most expressive with the flute.”

When she arrives in Boulder, Gunsbury will be pursuing a degree in flute performance and hopes to earn the certificate in music entrepreneurship. She says the combination of being able to study with Associate Professor of Flute Christina Jennings and get practical experience through the Entrepreneurship Center for Music was enough to convince her to make the trip west.

“As a musician, you need to have a good understanding of business. Knowing how to sell yourself is really important in the music world.”

And of course, the beauty of the scenery and people in Boulder were big draws as well.

“I felt a great sense of community when I was here for my audition. The professors seemed collaborative and the students were very friendly. I knew it would be an inspiring and supportive environment—and a place that would really challenge me.”

For now, Gunsbury has her mind on the next four years. But eventually, she hopes to perform in an orchestra or chamber ensemble and teach private lessons.

Read this article to learn more about the Sher Distinguished Musician Scholarship.