PCM: How old were you when you first began playing piano?
HS: I was four when I first began taking lessons. I wanted to learn piano because it is a good instrument to introduce you to music, and lots of different genres of music include it, so it would allow me to be diverse in my musical knowledge. I took private Suzuki lessons before moving to PCM where I began studying with Susan Svrcek in Spring 2021. When she became ill, I switched over to Kathryn Eames. I was lucky to study with Susan even for a short period and feel equally lucky now to be studying with Dr. Eames.
PCM: You began studying violin with Natalie Brejcha about a year ago. What made you want to learn a second instrument and why the violin?
HS: When I was two or three, my parents’ friend, who was a professional violinist, put a violin in my hands. When I drew the bow across the string, I made a beautiful, ringing tone. Everybody was surprised, and the professional violinist suggested taking lessons. Since I already knew the basics of sight reading and music theory, I decided it would be interesting to learn.
PCM: What has been a favorite musical memory or achievement?
HS: After playing classical music for more than seven years, I wanted to explore different genres. I knew that a lot of my favorite classic rock songs, such as “Martha My Dear” or “Lady Madonna” had piano, so I decided to learn classic rock pieces. Pretty soon, not only had I learned a bunch of new pieces, but I was also more fluent in reading chords and understanding them.
PCM: You recently won 1st place in your age group at the MTAC Theme Festival. What was the process of preparing for the festival like for you and how did you feel when you learned when you won?
HS: I prepared by playing the Bach Prelude in E major over and over, and smoothing out the bumpy patches that I had trouble with. I kept practicing the ornaments to help me get proficient at playing them with ease.
PCM: When you have a weekend without any plans, how do you enjoy spending your time?
HS: I like to play piano in my free time and learn songs by my favorite song writers. I love playing chess, too. I also like to paint and draw. I won prizes in two art competitions when I was younger. I like to keep a journal so that when I do something interesting, I not only write it down in the journal, but I also illustrate it and then paint it with my travel watercolor set.
PCM: What pieces are you learning on piano and on violin right now?
HS: I’m currently learning the Waltz in D flat, Op. 64 #1 (Minute Waltz) by Chopin on piano and the Gavotte by A. Thomas from Mignon in the Suzuki Book II on violin. Even though I can’t play the Minute Waltz in a minute yet, it’s fun to play and it was really fun to learn. The Gavotte from Mignon is a difficult piece to learn because of the different articulations and bowings.
PCM: Who is your musical hero and why? Do you have a favorite composer?
HS: One of my favorite song writers is Neil Young. His songs use a lot of piano, so I can learn them. My favorite songs by him include “Helpless,” “Alabama,” and “Heart of Gold.” I love his music because some of his protest songs like “Southern Man,” and “Ohio,” are very inspirational. I have also learned a lot of music theory studying his music. He is a very talented musician and can play guitar, piano, harmonica, banjo, and sings quite well. My favorite classical composer is Tchaikovsky because I love his pieces that are in minor keys, which have a strong, sad feeling to them. I also like his 1812 Overture because it has a lot of different sections.