Maxima Patashnik '09 (WA):
The past four years I've spent playing the cello at Willamette can be described as nothing less than incredible. I started out my freshman year as a Music Major, but quickly decided to change to International Studies and French. This wasn't because I didn't love music, but because I had other interests I wanted to explore as well; fortunately Willamette is a place where that is possible. However, my change in majors did not affect the way I was treated as a music student. The music department is a very supportive environment, and they offered me opportunities every semester to take lessons, perform, and play chamber groups and the orchestra. Although I did not have as much time to devote to cello as a music major, this was a minor detail to Dr. Wu. He treats all his students equally regardless of his or her concentration. Dr. Wu pushed me to my musical and artistic potential. Each session with him was a lesson both in cello and in life. As many students can attest, he has a wonderful ability to convey his thoughts and suggestions with amazing clarity. I always left my lessons feeling inspired and motivated. As a musician, my technique, style, and artistic abilities improved tenfold during my time at Willamette. In spite of the fact that I am not a Music Major, this spring I was able to give a Senior Recital, of which I chose all the pieces in my program. It was an extremely rewarding experience and a wonderful way to end my cello career at Willamette. Although I plan to continue studying cello for the rest of my life, I will be hard-pressed to find teacher as talented and inspiring as Dr. Wu, and a place as welcoming as the Willamette Music Community.
Aron Patton '10 (AR):
I began playing cello when I was in the 5th grade. My mother made me choose an instrument even though I was extremely reluctant to do so. I at first choose violin, but my mother told me it was too cliché. Later, I choose cello, and I knew that it was what I wanted to do with my life. I practiced a lot on my cello everyday because I had dreams of being the best cellist there was. However, there were obstacles to this goal. My family couldn't afford private lessons and I was forced to teach myself. I remember riding my bike to White's Music Store in Las Cruces, New Mexico in 100 degree weather just to get the 7th Suzuki book. It wasn't until my late junior year in high school that I was able to afford lessons. My first teacher was named Dr. Michael Staehle. He was a short, German man and was extremely nice, but demanding also. He gave me a $15.00 discount on my lessons so that I only had to pay $20.00 every week. I came to find out that I was doing many things wrong, but that with good practice I could overcome many of my shortcomings. After two years of study with him, I find myself at Willamette University studying cello under Professor Hekun Wu. I've learned so much in just a year that I am amazed and extremely grateful to have found someone such as him. He was taught by some of the greatest cellists and I feel humbled and lucky to know that I am getting just a bit of that knowledge. I am so blessed in so many ways and I know that cello is my calling. I sleep at night and try to imagine myself doing something else for a career, but nothing seems so appealing to me as music and cello. I think to be a music performance major requires a strong person mentally and emotionally. However, it is extremely rewarding to find that your hard work has paid off. It is something akin to nirvana when you finish playing a piece in front of a crowd, no matter what size, and everyone claps for you and you feel like you've presented this great piece of art to the public in the best way that you know how and to the best of your ability.
Shannon Buckley '09 (CA):
My experience playing cello here at Willamette has been absolutely fantastic! As a biology major, I feel privileged to be able to participate in musical ensembles and to have the opportunity to take lessons from such an exceptional musician as Dr. Wu. Studying with him has not only pushed me to greater heights of musicality and technical ability, but also enhanced my appreciation of music in all its facets, how in playing a single piece one is constantly making new discoveries and insights. Also, I've really enjoyed spending time with the other student cellists on campus, wonderful people who I probably would never would have gotten to know otherwise. It's been a great community to be a part of.
Joyce Yang '08 (OR):
you can hug it
we're not a violin
we play three clefs
we don't get hickies
it has the most soul
you always get to sit
my parents made me
cellists aren't as uptight
most like the human voice
sounds good with two or twenty
we like paying for an extra airplane ticket
because Dr. Wu is the best cello teacher :)
full skirts and black pants are always in style
people think cellos are sexy, therefore you are too
we're not the brunt of all jokes (like violas, eh hem)
fond of comments that it's just a bigger violin or guitar
scare kids into thinking your case could be their coffin
people are nice to you because you have a pointy endpin
able to obnoxiously decorate the scroll for Christmas concerts
old people smile warmly and tell you it's their favorite instrument
getting paid big bucks for wedding gigs is kind of nice...until you use that to pay for your
next lesson and/or be stuck playing Pachelbel.
Bethany Huntley '10 (NH):
For me, playing the cello is doing something fun. It's doing something I love. I love the sound, I love the feeling, I love the emotion and everything associated with it. It's a way to be distracted, a way to escape into something other than monotonous daily life. I can keep focus with repetition and practice self-discipline. Mostly, it's a way to be alone and be myself without reserve or inhibition.