Each month, the Lee University School of Music highlights a faculty member, student, or alumni on social media platforms to feature exciting aspects of their professional and academic lives as well as their lives as musicians both now and moving forward. This month, the School of Music is proud to host Dr. Muen Vanessa Wei, piano, for the February Q&A! Read below for the full transcript.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself: where you’re from, your educational background, musical experience, etc.
I’m from a small island, Gulangyu, off the coast of southeastern China. The island is named “the island of piano” for its classical music culture brought by the Christian missionaries in the early 1900s. I started playing the piano when I was 4. At age 15, I moved to Beijing to study at the China Conservatory. I got my Masters degree from Cleveland Institute of Music and later my doctorate degree from University of Illinois.
Q: How did you hear about Lee University, and what do you teach in the School of Music?
I saw Lee University’s job opening at the higher Ed recruitment website. I teach piano lessons to all piano major students and coach chamber music groups.
Q: Tell us all about your work in the piano studio and your performance with the Lee Trio! How does your work with each differ and what makes the experiences unique to each other?
When my students come to my studio for a lesson, they perform for me and I give my comments based on their performance. I am more like a musical doctor and make a diagnosis about what they did well and what might not work so well. With the Lee Trio we meet twice every week for rehearsals. We play some standard trio repertoires as well as exploring new trio repertoires. It’s a great collaboration and I enjoy making music with my friends Xiaoqing and Theodore.
Q: How do you think teaching students impacts your musicianship as a performer?
I think when I am teaching them, they teach me as well. When I teach, I am able to stand back and listen more. I also need to explain the music and make the students understand. All those aspects benefit me greatly as a performer.
Q: Do you have any advice to pass along to music students?
Techniques are just a vehicle to make music. Don’t get obsessed with the technique and forget the music.
Q: Any favorite memories of your music career?
My favorite moments are always when I make music with great musicians.
~ ~ ~
Keep an eye out for Dr. Wei’s words on her life as a musician on our social media platforms throughout the month of February! You can follow us via the following handles:
Be sure to use our hashtags! #leeusom #musicwithpurpose