Where are Lessons Offered
South Korean native Koeun Grace Lee is an avid performer, educator, and conference lecturer. She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance and Post-Master’s Certificate in Music Theory Pedagogy from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, Master of Music in Piano Performance from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music, and Bachelor of Music in Piano and Piano Pedagogy and Artist Diploma from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
Dr. Lee’s performance of Jean Ahn’s Folksong Revisited was aired on Music in Chicago of WFMT: Chicago’s classical and folk music radio in 2021 and 2023. She presented numerous lecture-performances at conferences of the College Music Society in the U.S. and South Korea. She has been an active presenter and a featured artist at the Composition in Asia International Symposium and Festival at the University of South Florida. Dr. Lee has performed at New Music Chicago Presents Series, Roosevelt University, CMS national conferences, and many other venues. Her debut album, Variations on a Theme by Stefan Wolpe and Other Selected Piano Works, has been released through Navona records (February, 2023). The album have been aired on numerous classical music radio programs and new music webcasts, including WWFM – The Classical Network, WMBR – MIT campus radio station, WFMT, The Moderns, and Martian Gardens.
Dr. Lee is a freelance pianist in Chicago area. She is on the piano faculty at Mattix Music Studio and serves as pianist at Community Church of Barrington. She previously taught at several institutions including Brevard College, Mars Hill University, the University of the Incarnate Word, Academy for the Arts at First Baptist Church-Asheville, and the University of North Carolina-Asheville Summer Piano Camp. Dr. Lee is an active member of College Music Society, Music Teachers National Association, and Suzuki Association of the Americas.
My Musical Education Background
Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance; Post Master's Certificate in Music Theory Pedagogy, University of North Carolina-Greensboro
Genres and Subjects Taught
Piano, Piano Master Class
Ages / Skill Levels Taught
All levels, but not a complete beginner, ideally age 7+
My Musical Influences
Piano has maintained an interesting relationship with me throughout my life, in both countries I have resided in. South Korea, my birthplace and upbringing, holds the memories of my earliest connection with the piano. While my interactions with it were sporadic during my childhood, the piano served as a comforting companion.
My journey with the piano took an accelerated pace as I decided to make a deeper connection with it in the U.S., which led me to pursue and obtain my doctoral degree at the young age of 27. While I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to achieve a terminal degree at a young age, I must acknowledge the challenge of not being able to fully enjoy piano playing at times, due to the constant time strain of being a student, despite my genuine love for piano lessons.
I started my formal training relatively late. It wasn’t until my college days in the U.S. that I began consistently studying piano. I suppose I had just enough luck and talent to be accepted into college as a piano major, but I lacked the necessary fundamentals and proper technique, particularly with my small hands. As a result, I had to devote extra time to practicing and redeveloping those aspects, in addition to working on my repertoire.
I wish I had established a stronger foundation in piano playing during my childhood. While I enjoyed playing the piano and even won prizes in competitions, I lacked the discipline and guidance to develop the essential skills required for success, regardless of whether I wanted to pursue piano as a career. These skills include active listening, consistency in lessons and practice, setting realistic and achievable goals, and having the patience to work towards those goals. And this is all before even discussing music fundamentals and piano techniques.
Throughout my teaching career, I have recognized the immense importance of establishing a healthy and mutually agreed long-term goal for piano lessons, among the student, parents, and teacher. This collaboration triangle forms the foundation for effective and productive short-term goals towards the long-term goal right from the start. A well-defined long-term goal helps students understand that progress in piano playing takes time and requires consistent effort, and creates motivation for success. This approach of setting long-term goals is equally applicable to older and adult students.
I have learned that when all parties are not aligned and committed to the long-term goal, it can lead to incorrect practicing patterns and a waste of time in undoing and redoing tasks. In particular, if the pacing is too fast and students try to achieve their goals too quickly, it causes anxiety in the enjoyment of piano playing. It serves as a reminder to avoid rushing through the learning process, similar to the hare in the story of “The Rabbit and the Turtle.”
Over the years, I have encountered numerous students and parents who display the characteristics of the Rabbit, eager to sprint ahead without paying attention to proper technique and musicality. I helped them by pinpointing one issue at a time and repeating the phrase “slow down.” This isolated and slow practice encourages them to take the time to diagnose and master the challenging spots in their pieces, and listen to the process. Mindlessly repeating the same trouble spot without recognizing the errors or the incorrect speed at which they are playing, only hinders their progress. It often results in fatigue and frustration, eventually necessitating extra time to regain their energy and refocus on fixing the issues.
It is tempting to adopt the mindset of the Rabbit when engaging a musical instrument, whether as a professional or not. I have witnessed this behavior, both in my students and in my younger self, where we pretend that playing through a piece from beginning to end constitutes practice. However, this approach lacks the depth and focus required for improvement, and wastes time. The Rabbit mindset only retains a short-term memory, it does not sustain a long-term memory as well as the Turtle mindset.
Taking a broader perspective, it’s evident that today’s populations are caught in a whirlwind of activities, navigating a hectic and overwhelming schedule. The ability to deeply focus on one thing becomes increasingly challenging, resulting in a decline in the quality of their performances and practices. Rushing through the process of learning a musical instrument serves as a metaphor for simply rushing through life’s tasks, filling up time without allowing for the necessary space and consistency required for effective and meaningful practice. I embrace the Turtle, who teaches us that slow and steady wins the race. By adopting this balanced approach, one can save time and accomplish more with the ability to fully focus on one task at a time.
If you resonate with the patient and steady approach of the Turtle in “The Rabbit and the Turtle” story and are looking to learn piano in a better way without feeling rushed, I invite you to book a free assessment call with me. During the call, you can obtain the details of my online piano program and determine if it aligns with your needs and desires.
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