Senior Profiles

Shelby Davis Senior Profile:

Degree at WashU: International and Area Studies/French; Minor in Linguistics 
Area of interest: Voice
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
Future Plans: This fall I will start a Ph.D. program at the University of Maryland in Applied Linguistics and Language Education
Hobbies: Cooking, Facetiming/Zooming Friends
WashU Experiences: My favorite performance was when I played Hope in the PAD's production of Urinetown in 2017; it was my first semester at WashU, and this show gave me the ability to work with fantastic musicians and performers from all parts of the university. I also made some amazing friends!

Singing has always been an important part of my life and WashU music lessons allowed me to fully pursue this passion without compromising my other academic interests.  I have found the WashU Music Department to be a warm, welcoming, and inclusive place for all performers to collaborate and create art. I feel very fortunate to have been part of this program.  
Message to future WashU Music students: We are excited for you to join our community! Involvement looks very different to everyone, which is why this program is able to bring together so many great performers. Take advantage of your time here to the fullest, you never know what connections you'll make!

 


 

 

Katie Doderer Senior Profile:  

Degree at WashU: Bachelor of Arts in Music & Minor in Mathematics
Area of Interest: Harp
Ensembles at WashU: Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, and Chamber Ensembles
Hometown: Little Rock, AR
Future Plans: I will attend Northwestern University for a Masters of Music in Music Education. My ultimate goal is to teach orchestra at the high school level.
Hobbies: Baking/cooking, singing Broadway songs in the car, and watching Trevor Noah
WashU Experiences: My favorite concert that I played was the WashU & UMSL Unite where our Symphony Orchestra played with UMSL's Orchestra. I loved being part of such a large ensemble and the repertoire of film and Broadway music really lends itself to great harp parts, so I got to play a lot throughout the program. My harp lessons not only enhanced my techniques for grad school, but also gave me a reprieve from other coursework. Music has always been a great way to relieve stress and I relied on it during the weeks of exams and projects to break up the studying. I am so glad I chose WashU and the Music Department because of the incredible professors here and the community we have built. The smaller classes allowed for a good mix of lecture vs. discussions based classes and I got to know my professors based on their interests, even outside of their research. It is also comforting to have a smaller cohort of classmates because you see each other in almost every class, every semester, and can develop strong connections.
Message to future WashU Music students: Enjoy yourself and your time at WashU! Play the pieces you love, take interesting electives, and find random nuggets of information on the your favorite composers: for instance, did you know that Bach wrote an entire cantata about coffee? Whether you are a music major, taking lessons, or participating in an ensemble, the music department will welcome you and I wish you the best!

 


 

 

Campbell Eshleman Senior Profile:

Degree at WashU: Economics & Strategy, Music
Area of interest: Jazz Piano, Voice, Composition
Ensembles you participated in at WashU: Jazz Combo & Jazz Band
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Future Plans: Strategy Consulting in Dallas, TX
Hobbies: Ultimate Frisbee, Cycling, Bon Appetit YouTube videos
Tell us about your time at WashU:
A performance highlight on campus for me was performing in the Jazz at Holmes series. Being a part of the Leading Together campaign during my sophomore year was particularly rewarding since I was able to musically represent the university in Nashville, TN and Portland, OR while also making friends with a few incredible WashU vocalists!

My applied piano lessons were such a valuable way to continue to pursue my personal interests on the piano outside of what I was learning in Jazz Combo and to really delve into the world of solo piano playing as well. Voice lessons with Keith Wehmeier have also been incredibly fun since I had never had any experience singing before the second half of college. Lessons have instilled a lifelong love for my instrument and my continued explorations of my voice.

WashU has to be the most amazing place to seriously pursue music alongside another core area of study. I feel so fortunate that I was able to pursue a second major in music and have been given so many incredible opportunities within the jazz department that I am not sure I would have been able to replicate anywhere else. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity I had to continue to pursue my music education at such a high level.
Message to future WashU Music students: Do not underestimate what you can accomplish musically! Although there is always more than enough work to be had at WashU, there is time to continue music in a wide range of ways and the faculty are so willing to help you to complete projects that you would never have thought possible. I owe so much of my college experience to the incredible music faculty and their constant support and encouragement to take on new projects and explore new paths in music.

 


 

 

Tucker Hirsch Senior Profile:

Degree at WashU: Political Science and Economics & Strategy, Minor in Jazz Studies
Area of interest: Saxophone
Ensembles you participated in at WashU: Jazz Combo, Jazz Band, & The Snapchettes
Hometown: Springfield, IL
Future Plans: Get a job and keep playing music
Hobbies: Golf, Cooking, Spending time with my dog 
WashU Experiences: One of my favorite performances was opening for the Mark Lettieri Trio at the Ready Room. Being a part of WashU's music department helped me to find my own sound and allowed me to pursue multiple interests without having to give all my focus to one. 
Message to future WashU Music students: Lenihan is the GOAT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Beth Huang Senior Profile:

Degree at WashU: General Biology, Music 
Area of interest: Piano 
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Future Plans: I will be a lab technician for my gap year. Meanwhile, I plan to apply to medical school. 
Hobbies: Watching random documentaries on Youtube and playing board games 
WashU Experiences: I really loved taking private lessons at WashU. For the first time, I got to experience enrolling in music lessons for the sake of learning and interest. My classical piano lessons were challenging, but I enjoyed gaining a more in depth understanding about the pieces. I also got to learn a bit of jazz piano in my last year, and I wish I had started sooner. I'm glad I chose WashU and participated in music, because I had the opportunity to expose myself to music I never would have heard, and also got the chance to delve deeper into the theory and history of music I already knew. The music professors are engaging, supportive, and are willing to guide you should you ever need help. Even better, I could do all this while I also pursued other fields of study, such as science. 

As a pianist, I haven't had any actual performances. I have really bad performance anxiety resulting from previous experiences, and I hadn't performed solo in front of an audience for 5-6 years. With the urging of my classical piano professor, I decided to do a senior performance in order to address this issue of mine. Due to the current situation, my performance unfortunately got cancelled, but I learned so much during my preparation for the performance. 
Message to future WashU Music students: You should definitely take advantage of the music courses WashU offers. Even if you don't have any musical knowledge, you can learn a lot. Don't be afraid to delve into the unknown, to develop a new skill, and to learn new knowledge. An interesting thing I learned was that even some of the greatest composers encountered rejection, but their works immensely impacted the musical world. This comforts me because when I'm scared about the consequences of taking a risky leap, I also remember it can also bring something positive in the future. Hopefully this will encourage you to take that music course or private lesson you were nervous about! 

 


 

 

Sarah James Senior Profile:

Degree at WashU: Bachelor of Arts in Drama and minors in Music and Psychology
Area of interest: Voice
Hometown: Woodside, California
Future Plans: Public health circumstances permitting, I’ll be returning to Portola Valley Theatre Conservatory to work as an assistant costume designer for their summer season. Then in the fall, I’m moving up to Chicago to pursue acting. 
Hobbies: Sewing and crocheting, baking, drawing, and watching bootlegs of Broadway musicals
WashU Experiences: My favorite performance was when I had the incredible opportunity to play Janet Weiss in the Performing Arts Department production of The Rocky Horror Show. I have never had so much fun in my life, and it was unbelievably powerful to have a sold-out theater all participating in the craziness and doing the Time Warp along with us.

Voice lessons have been such an important part of my time at WashU. Over the past four years, my technique has grown leaps and bounds. In studying a range of composers and languages, I feel like I’ve gained both confidence in myself as a performer and many tools to keep pushing myself to improve. 

I’m glad I chose WashU because of how supportive the community has been. All of my classes in the Music Department have been small enough that I could have meaningful discussions (and some good laughs!) with professors and fellow students. Everyone shares a curiosity and enthusiasm for music that leads to a strong community and a lot of great learning. 

Message to future WashU Music students: You should definitely take advantage of the music courses WashU offers. Even if you don't have any musical knowledge, you can learn a lot. Don't be afraid to delve into the unknown, to develop a new skill, and to learn new knowledge. An interesting thing I learned was that even some of the greatest composers encountered rejection, but their works immensely impacted the musical world. This comforts me because when I'm scared about the consequences of taking a risky leap, I also remember it can also bring something positive in the future. Hopefully this will encourage you to take that music course or private lesson you were nervous about! 

 


 

Helen Kaul Senior Profile:

Degree at WashU: Major in Comparative Literature, minor in Jazz Studies
Area of interest: Jazz Piano 
Ensembles you participated in at WashU: Jazz Combos
Hometown: St. Louis, MO
Future Plans: Washington University School of Law, Class of 2023
Hobbies: I love to cook and go to yoga classes at Sumers!
WashU Experiences: My favorite performance was my Jazz at Holmes concert in February 2020. I was the student marketing intern with Jazz at Holmes during my time at WashU and worked a lot behind the scenes on the series. I was so excited to be featured as a musician this time! 

I am so grateful to my wonderful professors Kara Baldus-Mehrmann and Bill Lenihan for encouraging me throughout my time at WashU. I've grown so much as a person and musician and received the most incredible instruction. I've also made close friends in my music classes and combo rehearsals that I know I will stay close with in the future. The Jazz at Holmes series was also an integral part of my time at WashU. As a student of jazz it was so important for me to hear live jazz as much as possible and it was amazing to have weekly performances by renowned local and international artists right on campus! 
Message to future WashU Music students: Don't place too much pressure on yourself! Studying music is a great opportunity to continue improving on your instrument, but it should always be fun and not add to the stress of being a student at WashU. 

 


 

 

Ethan Lee Senior Profile:

Degree at WashU: Biology (Neuroscience) and Music
Area of interest: Classical and Jazz Piano Performance
Ensembles you participated in at WashU: Jazz Band and Jazz Combos
Hometown: Bryn Mawr, PA
Future Plans: Apply to medical school, tutor piano
Hobbies: piano, research, & hiking
WashU Experiences: My junior year I accompanied the choir and orchestra in performing O Fortuna from Carmina Burana for the chancellor. I rarely get to perform with such large ensemble pieces and it was magnificent.

Ever since I started playing piano 16 years ago, I knew it would be a big part of my life. WashU made it easy for me to enjoy music with others, expand my musical knowledge, and become a more well-rounded musician.  I had a great mentor in Professor Kirkpatrick, and she helped me develop a program for my senior recital, even though sadly I never was able to perform it.

Message to future WashU Music students: I've often found it easier to express myself through music rather than through words. If you feel that way too, don't stop.

 


 

 

Daniel McLean Senior Profile:

Degree at WashU: Chemical Engineering (applied science) and Economics
Area of interest: clarinet & piano
Ensembles you participated in at WashU: Wind Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra, & Small Chamber Ensembles
Hometown: Eagan, MN
Hobbies: reading & video games
WashU Experiences: I had so many fun performances at WashU, it's really hard to choose just one. The fall 2019 Symphony Orchestra concert when we played Enigma Variations and the cello concerto (Elgar) was so fun.  They are both beautiful pieces and I had  wanted to play the cello concerto for a while! In Wind Ensemble, I'd say my favorite performance was last spring when we played Bach Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor and Savannah River Holiday - the arrangement of the Bach by Hunsberger is absolutely mesmerizing, and Savannahis one of the most exciting pieces for wind band I've ever played.

I had actually never taken private lessons before coming to WashU, and thanks to Paul Garritson and Dana Hotle, I am a much more mature clarinet player than I was when I first came.  I used to focus a lot on "doing it right" when I practiced on my own, but studying with them I learned that what's most important is how the music comes off the page, not just playing what's on the page correctly. I was just beginning the piano, so thanks to Sarah Johnson for getting me off to a great start.

There were so many opportunities, both expected and unexpected, to get involved in things that interested me here. I'm glad I participated in music because I grew so much as a musician and met so many great students and faculty along the way.

Message to future WashU Music students: Take lessons, go to the St. Louis Symphony concerts (they're only $10 for us, which is quite a steal), take a music theory class, and get to know the 560 Music Center faculty and staff - they're the warmest people on campus by far.

 


 

 

Cole Reyes Senior Profile:

Degree at WashU: Music & Traditional Mathematics
Area of interest: Composition
Ensembles you participated in at WashU: Chamber Choir
Hometown: Bartlett, IL
Future Plans: Pursuing a M.M. in Concert Music Composition at New York University
Hobbies: being a barista, traveling, exploring new cuisines
WashU Experiences: My favorite performance experience at WashU was this past fall when the Chamber Choir performed my piece Good Night.  This served as a nice bookending of my time in Chamber Choir. During my freshman year, they also performed one of my pieces and it was wonderful to see the growth of my work from my first to last year at WashU. Hearing a piece of mine come to life will never fail to bring endless joy and fulfillment.

During my time in composition lessons with Dr. Stark and Dr. White I was able to really explore what it means to be a composer. It is about not only saying something and creating art but doing so intentionally and effectively. I have had the opportunity to have my pieces read and critiqued and to learn from fellow composers and performers, making me a better composer and musician.

I truly believe that choosing Washington University allowed me to have so many opportunities as a musician and composer that I would not have had in other places. For example, I have had opportunities like having a piece performed and others read by the Symphony Orchestra in addition to pieces performed by the Chamber Choir. These performances and readings are critical to the development of young composers and allowed me to grow exponentially in my time here.
Message to future WashU Music students: Get involved as much as you can here! The faculty and students are absolutely incredible. Everyone wants you to succeed, so allow them to help you in that process. Challenge yourself and allow yourself to be challenged here so that you can grow beyond what you ever thought possible.

 


 

 

Jenny Tian Senior Profile:

Degree at WashU: Bachelor of Arts in Music, Major in Physics, & Minor in Computer Science
Area of interest: composition, violin, & voice
Ensembles you participated in at WashU: Symphony Orchestra, Concert Choir, & Chamber Ensembles
Hometown: Beijing, China
Future Plans: I will join the physics Ph.D. program at Yale University this fall. I plan to keep composing and perhaps take some music classes and/or lessons at Yale. My goal is to be a physicist and teach at a university, and I hope I can have a side career in composition.
Hobbies: drawing and painting, writing, & learning languages
WashU Experiences: My favorite performance at WashU was a concert combining WashU Choirs and the Wind Ensemble in 2018. This was my first concert with the Concert Choir, and I was one of the soloists in the first song, so it was an exciting new experience for me. Prof. Ron Cytron from the CSE department played the guitar with us in the concert. I was happy to perform with one of my favorite CSE professors, and it also convinced me that music would continue to be an important part of my life after I go on to pursue another discipline. 

I've had composition, violin, voice, and keyboard skills lessons at WashU, and I have worked with different instructors in chamber music. I have improved a lot in all these areas during my three years at WashU, and the lessons played an important role in it. While having very different styles, all my teachers are really nice, encouraging, and helpful, and they seem to genuinely care about me and how I am doing in my life. Lessons usually included a few minutes of chat, usually related to what's been happening in our lives, and I enjoyed those moments. The lessons made me understand my strengths and weaknesses much better, which made me much more confident, and made music making more enjoyable for me. The lessons and the teachers also encouraged me to go outside of my comfort zone and try things that I never imagined I could do, and I am frequently surprised by the outcome: I didn't know I could play a violin recital until I had one in my junior year, and I wouldn't have known that I could be a composer if Dr. White hadn't encouraged me to take Composition Workshop when I asked him for advice in my first semester at WashU.

I am glad that I chose WashU music because here I am encouraged to try new things and discover what I most enjoy. I have never played chamber music before coming to WashU, but chamber music turns out to be one of my favorite aspects of music making. I did not sing before college, but I have discovered that I enjoy singing a lot, and I never imagined I could ever sing the way I do now. I am glad that I discovered the joy of composing, which is a unique way to express my thoughts: I can express my ideas and emotions effectively with my mind and imagination, and take from the most concrete to the most abstract forms, which is extremely satisfying for me.

The academic courses are also great, and many of them include some "Eureka" moments, such as Prof. Snarrenberg's Theory 3 when he connected species counterpoint with actual music. Since the class size is usually small, I get to know my classmates and professors well. I am moved by the professors' passion for their fields, which is apparent from the way they teach.

Music also provided me with a great contrast with physics and STEM in general. While rewarding in its own way, STEM can be abstract, cold and frustrating, and studying music helps with dealing with the more negative aspects of studying science. The humanities aspect of music moves me constantly and sometimes brings me to tears, and a similar experience is rare in studying science.
Message to future WashU Music students: Enjoy your time here and take the opportunity to explore! You will meet great people here in the department and have so much fun.