Music in her bones

Maya Chu ’23 has a special connection with the music she plays.

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Music in her bones

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Keith Richards, the lead guitarist for the Rolling Stones, once said, “Music is a language that doesn’t speak in particular words. It speaks in emotions, and if it’s in the bones, it’s in the bones.” Music was in Beethoven’s bones. And Lang Lang’s. And Shawn Mendes’. And the entire cast of “Hamilton.” And all artists, big and small, can feel the warmth of a beautiful melody in their bones, including Maya Chu ’23.

Chu started playing the piano at age four. From then on, her music career took off. Now she plays five instruments: piano, clarinet, tenor saxophone, violin and cello.

Out of all the instruments Chu plays, the piano is definitely her favorite. She started playing violin at eight years old. In fifth grade, Chu started clarinet to participate in the school band. She started studying cello in sixth grade and tenor saxophone just recently in eighth grade. 

Still, the piano holds a special place in her heart. “[Piano] is just easier to make it expressive while also playing it accurately,” Chu said.

She recollects fond memories of playing the piano throughout her childhood. Chu started studying piano at Preucil School of Music but sought out other training after witnessing an informal concert in the Old Capitol building at the University of Iowa.

“Me and my dad used to go to piano Sundays at the Old Capitol, Chu said. “And there was a lady who would always play there. And her name was Rene Lecuona. And then one time, I was like six or something, and my dad just asked her if she could be my teacher. Which was such a weird thing to do. But then I went to her house and I auditioned. And then she let me be a student. Which is kind of cool because she normally just teaches university students.” 

With the demands of playing five instruments, Chu had some tome decisions to make. She needed to choose between band and orchestra, but she eventually decided on orchestra. 

“I thought about it for so long during the summer and I had like three months to think about it. But I just decided I would do orchestra because, ever since I started violin, I was kind of set on doing high school orchestra and stuff like that. So I always thought of myself as like an orchestra kid…This year we have a really good orchestra director and I think he’s making us a lot better.”

Chu sees music as a way to make friends and express her feelings to those around her. Bandmate and friend, Heidi Du ‘23, says Chu made quite the impression on their first day of band in 7th grade.  “[Chu] was really loud, and she was always energetic,” Du said. 

As Du has gotten to know Chu, her overall opinion hasn’t really changed. 

“She’s just gotten louder and more energetic. ” Du said. Chu’s voice and laughter always fills whatever room she’s in.

“She’s a really good friend. She’s usually really understanding. She’s usually patient,” Du said. 

Chu wants to impact the world with her music and positive attitude. 

“I think I’m a pretty happy person most the time, not always optimistic but I try to be… I want other people to see me as, hopefully, nice, and just someone they want to be around. I want to make them happy.”

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Music in her bones