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Practice makes performance: A profile on Jessica Stein

First senior recital performer of the semester Jessica Stein speaks about music, performing and her future.   |   Tim Seeberger/THE CHIMES

 

The auditorium quiets as she walks on stage in her concert-black gown. She takes a deep breath, places the violin underneath her chin, readies her bow and begins the concert she has worked toward for four long years.

Meticulous preparation

Jessica Stein, senior music performance major, started off this year’s season of senior recitals with a violin showcase on Sunday, April 2, allowing her to check off the largest project of her college career and look ahead to her future aspirations. 

On the first day of the semester, Stein stood ready with her paperwork and her calendar. Stein knew she needed to make her arrangements early in order to have her family, who lives in Chicago, attend. She also wanted to perform her recital early so she would not have to stress about it later.

“It’s hard to schedule recitals because the hall is usually booked for a lot of different things,” Stein said. “You are at the mercy of what your teachers can make, what your accompanist can make and then when the hall is free.”

Over the past year, she has dedicated many hours of thoughtful planning and meticulous practice to prepare for this one day, demonstrating everything she has worked for in her college career.

“It’s an opportunity to use all of the muscles I’ve been developing for the past four years — musically, mentally, physically,” Stein said.

Discipline and perseverance

Stein played with piano accompanist Jiayi Shi for pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven and Antonin Dvorak, and then she played a piece by Maurice Ravel with her string quartet. While the performance did not have a specific theme, she decided to organize her performance by playing one piece of music from four distinct eras — one from the baroque era, classical era,  romantic era and the 20th century.

“Every piece I’m playing is from a different style, and I’m doing them in chronological order, so it’s fun to play a variety of pieces that are all just really great works of music,” Stein said.

As Stein has practiced her violin diligently throughout her life and especially in her time at college, she has found music a wonderful teacher and discipler in growth as a musician, person and Christian.

“Being a musician has just taught me a lot about discipline and perseverance and being patient,” Stein said. “Music has helped me be more articulate and find out what’s worth saying and listen to what other people are saying.”

The benefits of learning music and persevering through the difficulties, as Stein said, have expressed themselves in many studies, including a study done by the National Association for Music Education. They found that music can have great impacts on one’s brain and work habits.  

A heavenly appeal

After Stein graduates, she plans to move to Arizona to become a teacher at a classical school called Great Hearts Academies and possibly do music on the side. She believes music and her music education have prepared her not only for her future career but her future life in general.

“When you learn an instrument, you find out how much you’re capable of,” Stein said. “There’s something really true about the process of the hard work that’s necessary for beauty to happen.”

Overall, Stein believes music’s appeal lies in the heavenly. She believes where words fail when describing and understanding God, music allows elusive imagery to come into play, offering both the people playing and the people listening the blessing of the knowledge of God.

“God uses music to expand our imagination of what he could be like,” Stein said. “There’s something in the best music that reaches into the infinite and the transcendent, and God uses that both for the performer — who's constantly trying to reach that — and for the listener who hopefully receives it.”

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