Senior Macke uses Student Forum to better herself as a musician

Tyler Stauffer photo: Senior Kelton Macke has been drawn to music from a young age.Tyler Stauffer photo: Senior Kelton Macke has been drawn to music from a young age.Within Mercyhurst College’s Music Department, Student Forum is a weekly gathering of students and faculty to share what they love. Although music majors are required to attend weekly and perform once a term, Student Forum is open to the entire Mercyhurst community.

Beginning at 3 p.m. every Tuesday in Walker Recital Hall, anything from operatic arias to piano concertos can be heard.

Below is an interview with one of this week’s performers, senior piano major Kelton Macke.

N: What piece are you performing in Student Forum? Why did you choose this specific piece?

K: I am performing “L’Isle Joyeuse” by Debussy. Interesting enough, Dr. Yoo (a Mercyhurst piano professor) chose this piece for me, in hopes that I can portray the natural delicate expressiveness of the French style of music.

N: Why did you choose the piano? How many years have you played?

K: I’ve played piano since I was six years old. Naturally, I was a curious kid who had to figure everything out. When I saw my babysitter playing, I was drawn to the elusive puzzle behind the art of music.

N: Music is a difficult field to pursue a career in. What or who sparked your love for it?

K: I’ve grown up in a musical household. My sister played the cello and the oboe, and I played the piano, viola, and clarinet. Music was an option that I was given at a very young age to pursue and I never looked back.

N: When did you know that you wanted to make music your major in college and not just a hobby?

K: College is a land of opportunities in which one can aspire to “major” in any interest they would like. This includes hobbies that have progressively turned into passions. The idea behind music as a major, contributes to the success and multiple options that could be available to pursue after college. I’ve played piano since I was 6 years old…it’s not just a hobby I would feel inclined to step away from.

N: Out of all the music programs in the country, what made Mercyhurst the right place for you?

K: Mercyhurst provided me with a warm and encouraging environment. Here, I am able to push myself. In my opinion, an honest practice is not based on a competitive environment on “who plays the best,” but more so on a self-pursuing environment where one can ask, “how can I better myself?”.

N: Public speaking is one of the most common phobias. Do you ever get nervous before performing with all your peers out in the audience? If so, how do you deal with these nerves?

K: (Laughing) Oh, do I ever get nervous! That is the understatement of the year. When I perform, I literally have to just focus on the music and tune everyone else out around me. You basically don’t want to talk to me before or even five to 10 minutes after a performance. I am wound up and completely irritable…

Eating about four bananas before I play generally calms my nerves, but not entirely. Also, if I exert some sort of physical energy before I play, I tend not to shake anymore (for example, doing some jumping jacks).