Our Stories

This section of our site is dedicated to the stories and experiences of the members of our LPMC Community.

Eve’s Aspira Reflection

During summer break, I tagged along with Miss Kim to visit Aspira High School to see first hand what the LPMC Foundation does. The school is a new CPS charter school that has a beautiful new building and a fantastic music teacher, but it has very few instruments. During my visit there, I saw first hand how the students at Aspira High School do not have the opportunity to learn how to play musical instruments because of the very few instruments the school has on campus. I feel excited to see how the LPMC Foundation gift of new instruments will impact all of the students there and hope the students there will enjoy music classes and learn to love music as much as I do.

Behram's Vienna essay:

I am still getting over my trip to Vienna this year. To me it was one of the most exceptional moments of my life as a piano player. Of course, having Miss Kim challenge us the way she does helped, but I was still very nervous as the day came closer. As a family, we had such a nice time in Vienna and it was awesome how we got to experience Beethoven the way we did.  I still find it amazing that my name is on that plaque.

My years at Miss Kim (I started when I was 5), have taught me something valuable- truly that practice makes perfect. I am no prodigy nor was I born gifted to play the piano but I do know one thing- I love playing the piano and having Miss Kim as a teacher and mentor has made this path so much more fun and challenging.  And when I say challenging I am not kidding! The hours of practice and trying to fit in homework and all other activities has been hard but every time I get to the end of, I always look forward to the next concert or project.  Miss Kim told us she takes her time in choosing pieces for us and really thinks hard about our personalities .I also want her to know that I always work harder to make her proud of me as well. I have always appreciated her belief in me.

I remember when my mom would say in awe to Miss Kim all the time, “I can’t imagine Behram playing like the older kids.” I would think to myself miffed, “Wow my mom doesn’t believe in me!” I knew she did but I always found that funny. I am so thankful to my parents (and my grandmothers who live with us) for putting up with the years of practice and all the time and energy they put in me to see me get to this point.  I am so excited to see where this will take me.

On one last note: Thank you for all you do Miss Kim, Mom and Baba, Amee and Mama. Your thoughts and prayers for me have gone a long way. Alishba you aren’t so bad either! 

Alishba's Essay for Vienna:

I was so excited to hear when Miss Kim said I would be able to go to Vienna too.  The whole time I thought it was for the older kids only so when I heard this news I was excited and nervous! I started practicing hard but when it came time for the soiree’s I started to doubt myself and felt I was not ready for performing in Vienna. I started to make mistakes and at one point stopped in the middle. I went home that day very sad and upset. Miss Kim’s email to my mom further caused me anxiety because I had not made the list but had one more chance. My dad finally sat me down and had THE talk with me. He told me that hard work always pays off and I just had to put my head down and work harder and learn to drown the noise out.  It took some time (and ice cream) and Miss Kim said I could go! I realize that I need to always take a few deep breaths and it will all be fine.

I loved every moment of my time in Vienna. The Christmas lights, is what I loved most. It seemed like a magical place.  The cobblestone pathways and the clippity clop of the horses made me feel like I was in a different time. As a family, we got to visit many places and I loved that I got to spend more time with other LPMC students and get to know them better. 

Above all things though, I loved Beethoven house. It amazed me that someone so famous had such a humble home. And someone who struggled so hard and put in so much work, and to still continue to struggle made me look at my life so differently.  To be great at something, you have to struggle and sometimes deal with very hard things. Things you may not even like.

I can’t wait for our next trip to Vienna. All the places there are magical and musical.

LPMC Vienna essay: Pariya Salehi

This was my first time traveling to Vienna. After many months of practicing, it was finally time to go to. As soon as we started boarding the airplane, I realized that this was the dream coming true. All these times of hard work gathered up all just for this week. At that moment, I finally realized that indeed I was going to Beethoven’s house and be one of the first performers to be sharing Beethoven’s music to the local people of Vienna. This was one of the most uneasy though exciting things I have ever done in music. As Vienna was known for its people adoring and cherishing great pianists and classical music, I was nervous if they knew the pieces I was playing and how I would be impressing them with my performance. Although this thought was quite intimidating, I knew all I had to do was to think about all efforts that was put into the Sonata, and to put all my emotions into my performances.

The next day, despite the jet lag, I woke up wanting to practice, when all of a sudden, it hit me that there was no more free practice whenever I wished, and that at the most, I only had a couple of hours to practice before the performance day. The moment of truth was revealing to me that practice time has to turn to performance time. I was getting desperate needing to practice just one last time, before the day came. Schubert House was arranged and very close to our hotel, so me and my brothers decided to walk over to also get a feel independently of the exquisite culture and architecture that this city had to offer.  I was mesmerized with every single building’s sophisticated designs, making Vienna immediately seem like a unique city compared to all other European cities had been to.

Entering into another grand artist’s real house at Schubert’s felt surreal. Simply stepping into the house made me calm down, as I looked around the beautiful garden and the courtyard. Once my mind stopped wandering, I stepped into the soiree room to practice. It felt a bit lifeless and scary awaiting for the music to bring some life back to that place. As I was waiting for my brothers to finish up practicing, I walked to the back of the room, and sat down to feel the acoustics, I felt as if Schubert himself was sitting right next to me, and observing. I felt as if he was pleasing to hear his home owning music after so many generations passed. Or maybe he was wondering why we were playing Beethoven’s pieces and not his! Once my turn to rehearse came, I was so relieved that I was finally practicing my pieces, and had the opportunity just one last time to perfect my music. Schubert house practice time was a very pleasing and special memory for me.

The weather was gloomy and rainy, but my family and I enjoyed exploring places Ms. Kim had referred to us such as Aida pastry shop and Schnitzel pubs. We were then hosted by the Department of Cultural Affairs at the Vienna City Hall, Rathaus. I was simply feeling so flattered and proud to belong to LPMC, where our affiliation and efforts were being acknowleged. We then took the bus and arrived at the Beethoven house. Entering the neighborhood, it felt very cozy and warming as if I had been there before. Knowing his music was probably the connection I was feeling to the space I was walking to. The neighborhood was very lively to me.

The door was closed. We all gathered and took some photos and the anticipation was intense. It was that time to enter and I never forget our first steps in the space because it was not strange but felt like home. I was also ready to perform as if I was at my own piano at home. I was playing with Parhum my brother and, it felt grand to finally play it in front of an audience.  As soon as I set my fingers down on the keys, I felt I was simply welcomed to his home. Then peacefully, I browsed in Beethoven’s room. His modified piano, his actual notes, his suicide letter was surreal. I couldn’t believe how a disabled man could compose and create such wonderful music. I admired how he turned his negativities and shortcomings to music and decided not to kill himself. We were again received by American Ambassador and Professor Kinderman, the one and only Beethoven Professor. I learned Beethoven was not just a composer but it can be a whole field to study and analyze.

This trip will be my most memorable Thanksgiving gathering and celebrations. We all went to Beethoven Cemetery at Vienna Central Cemetery. Not only Beethoven but Mozart and Brahms were also in that corner to visit. I was so touched by visiting his graveyard and knew he was there with us. I prayed and asked him to help me always play good music just like the way he had intended. One of my favorite memories was when we went to music bookstore and Ms Kim bought us a book. I finally understood how interesting it could be to buy new books and wish to play it all cover to cover. 

Last performance was the opening of recital to public and I felt so comfortable to play. I was so happy to see some of my family and friends participating and I shared the plaque in the recital room with my name. I felt proud to see Ms.Kim’s plaque and her garden in Beethoven’s house. LPMC was officially a family with Beethoven’s museum and I can now tell everyone I have a musical home in Vienna.

Vienna reflection by Leo Hoplamazian

The LPMC excursion to the beautiful city of Vienna is on my list of favorite places I have visited. While I was under stress for most of time in Vienna – the anxiety of the Beethoven museum performance consumed me – but I was still able to experience and embrace the culture. The best of the trip for me was the “Super-Secret Museum Storage Facility” tour. Wow! It was very interesting to see items that have been preserved for hundreds of years and learn about the process of preserving each piece. Of course, the fact that warehouse is completely off the grid made it even more interesting! While I was on the trip, we also went to the Wien Museum. While we were there, we got to see lots of ancient artifacts and paintings from Vienna! Something that I saw there that I thought was really cool was the map of ancient Vienna. It looked nothing like the grid systems that we have in the United States! Overall, I fell like my time spent in Vienna was one that I will remember for a long time.

LPMC Travel Essay by Sepehr Salehi

It was going to be my first time in Vienna. I had been to Europe numerous times for vacation, but never to perform piano. As soon as I got home from school, I spontaneously packed my bags for the trip, and played my piano piece a few times. 

Before I knew it, I was in the taxi headed for the airport. I acknowledged the fact that I no longer had the luxury of practicing on my own piano for as long as I please and whenever I please; instead I had to reserve practice slots, and limit the amount of times I practice. 

After the long process of getting to Vienna (2 hour drive to the airport, 4 hour delay in Chicago, 8 hour flight to Stockholm, 2 hour layover, 2 hour flight to Vienna), I was obviously very tired and it was when we were headed towards our hotel that the reality started to kick in. I was in Vienna, Austria, to perform in the Beethoven Museum. And it didn’t help that the hotel didn’t have a piano to practice on as readily as I wish. 

During the next day, I got to know the city of Vienna more, exploring many alleys and understanding the theme of the city. Although I thought Vienna would be a ‘typical European City’ before arriving, I was surprised by the unique design that the city had to offer; the wires of the trams hanging above the streets, the unique layout of the buildings as well as the extensive amount of options for shopping. 

Despite the fact that I was enjoying the sightseeing, a sense of anxiety came over me. I was nervous that I hadn’t practiced piano yet, as during the days leading up to the departure, I had tried to get in two hours of practice in a day. 

So there I went, walking toward the Schubert House to practice some piano with my brother and sister, exploring the distinct city layout and architecture as we went. 

Once we arrived, I was slightly underwhelmed at the small size of the Schubert House, yet as I began practicing on the piano, I felt stunned by how brilliant the piano sounded, and how the echoes created an enchanting feeling for me. It really was a unique experience playing the piano somewhere that Schubert had once played. 

Soon enough, it was time for the private performances at the Beethoven Museum, and it was my first time seeing it. As soon as I stepped in the museum, I was intrigued by its small size, and as I explored the museum, I realized just how much this museum had to offer inside each of its rooms. It was a surreal feeling, walking through the house and seeing all the bits and pieces from when Beethoven was composing. The exhibits were truly engaging and the open design of the museum made it feel more comfortable. 

As the performances started, I had an amazing feeling; although I was not performing that day, I sensed Beethoven was watching the performances and applauding after each one ended. After the end of the performances, typical Austrian snacks were being given out; potatoes and warm chestnuts, alongside a pungent, ethnic punch. It was great, and we as LPMC had left our mark on the museum, as just before leaving, we were presented with the name ‘Whe Do Kim Garden’ on a plaque at the large, beautiful garden, and the names of the families who helped raise money for the museum was in a plaque in the room the performances took place. 

Before long, it was time for my performance for the kids attending a local French school. Although I don’t learn French, I felt their joy for the group performing for them, and I was really glad when I saw them smiling at out performances. This reduced my stress for performing, and allowed me to play my piece with emotion and for a purpose. I had never played Sonata Opus 3, No 3 as well as I had that day. 

A few days later, the group was taken to the Vienna Central Cemetery (which was ironically far from the city center) to see the graves of numerous composers, most notably Beethoven. It was a gray, gloomy and cold day outside, and as we saw the grave of Beethoven, I had a surreal feeling, as it was an honor seeing the grave up close in person. As we all said our piano wishes and put a flower on Beethoven’s grave, I had never felt so close to such an influential composer, and almost felt like I was speaking with him. 

Finally, it was time to perform for the general public. Very stressed, I took time to connect myself to the museum and feel Beethoven’s presence to give me the strength to play the song at the best of my ability. As it was my turn, I looked around and saw a lot of video cameras recording, waiting for the next performer. 

I fearlessly walked up to the maple-colored Bosendorfer piano, and simply started playing, feeling the delicate nature of the piece in my notes. Finishing off the performance was a very satisfying and accomplished feeling. As members of the audience congratulated me at the end, I really became proud of myself for achieving such a thing, and this truly was one of the greatest moments of my life. I really look forward to visiting the Beethoven Museum with my children in the future and seeing the names of me and my family members, my peers and my piano mentor, Ms. Kim. 

There were many other aspects of the trip that would take many more words to explain, such as the Wien Museum welcoming the group, the pastry shops, and spending Thanksgiving with friends, but one thing really stuck out during the trip; feeling spiritually connected to one of the greatest composers of all time through performing in Beethoven’s home and visiting his grave. 

Vienna Travel Essay by Parhum Salehi

I remember when I was young attending Miss Kim’s class, I would always remember the days that I didn’t have a piano lesson for some reason. One of the days that I didn’t have a piano lesson, I asked why and I was told the very first time that Miss Kim and some of her select students went to Prague to perform in a concert. At first, I would always dream about how awesome it would be if I were able to go abroad and perform. However when I thought about it again, I realized just how much work must have gone into preparing for the concert.

Just like that, a few short years had passed for me and I was told that I would be playing in Vienna in honor of opening the Beethoven museum. I was shocked. At first, I got to playing the piece that I had gotten assigned right away. However little did I know just how much work had needed to go in to make the piece perfect. Just in the first couple of notes, I was already baffled that I would be playing such a grand piece. Starting with the first page of the piece, I slowly tried my best to make my way into finishing the piece. However it wasn’t that simple. After a long time of learning my piece, I was exhausted and I never thought that I would be able to continue the piece simply due to the fact about how difficult it was. But learning the piece was the hardest part for me and it got a whole lot easier after that. Eventually, I memorized my piece and then with a blink of an eye, I felt all ready. I added emotion into my already grand piece and it made it sound better than ever before. With a couple of soiree’s working on performance, I was finally ready to perform it to the people of Vienna.

Going to Vienna was a really enjoyable experience for me. The plane ride was really nice and was not tiring (as it usually is). Within around 9 hours, we had finally made our way to Vienna. When we first got out of the airplane, I truly expected for me to feel overwhelmed by all the new scenery and by the culture. But it wasn’t that way. The people of Vienna were pretty nice and hospitable and I really liked the historic feel to the scenery to Vienna. However when we arrived to our hotel, I was all ready to sleep as the jetlag was starting to kick in. I slowly wandered off to sleep. Lucky for me, no performances were taking place the next day which allowed for us to catch up on our sleep. The next day in Vienna was just as amazing as I thought it would be. We spent most of our time going around the city seeing what interesting things we can explore. After going a little sightseeing, we went shopping for a little while. Overall, it was fun, but it got quite exhausting after a while. Because of this, we all decided to go back to the hotel and because I had a big performance the next day that I had to prepare for.

It was around seven o'clock in the morning when I woke up. Despite still being quite tired, I felt excited and a bit nervous that I had a performance later on in the day. After getting ready, my whole family headed over to the Wien Museum where we would get a little tour of the place. I found it quite cool that we got to even go to places where normal people coming to visit the museum weren’t allowed to go. We saw multiple exhibits but the most memorable one to me was when we got to see a model of the whole city of Vienna. I found it quite cool just how much Vienna changed over the course of some years. After a long days worth of learning of Vienna’s history, the grand opening concert came around. I was very nervous at this point and I remembered every second of it. When it was my turn to go up, I thought to myself just how much preparation I had put into preparing to play in Beethoven’s house. I realized that even if I made one tiny unnoticeable error, that many people wouldn’t know. I knew that I would just need to move on. When I played my opening chord to my piece, it was quite quiet and I had a couple of finger slips here and there. However other than that, my piece went pretty good and I was proud of it. When I was walking away from the piano, I took a little glance at the audience and I saw Miss. Kim’s face smiling which had meant a lot to me.

For the rest of my days in Vienna, I felt very confident playing piano to the audiences. I can’t remember each and every performance in my head that well, but I sure do remember certain sections here and there for example playing for the school kids in Vienna, who went to a French school. I remember that I had to say my introduction for my duet piece with my sister Pariya in French. Let’s just say that my French wasn’t that amazing. However the most memorable performance I had was the last one to the public audience. It really changed the way I perform piano nowadays as I played my song flawlessly. At the beginning of the trip, I really thought that once I finished, a huge weight would be taken off my chest but that wasn’t the case. It felt as if something huge had been added to me which really changed the way that I am today. Because of this Vienna trip, I really feel like I have changed a lot in many positive ways. Now of course this whole trip wasn’t purely based around all piano. In fact, it wasn’t this way at all. I had many other unique experiences that I just can’t all write on paper because that would be a whole book on its own. However a very few select of them include: going to one of the most famous operas in the world; going to many cafes and eating delicious pastries with friends and Miss Kim; visiting family; celebrating thanksgiving with friends and most memorably spending a good chunk of my day practicing piano at the Schubert house.

It had been a while since I had an experience that action packed and fulfilling and action packed at the same time. Sure if I think of it more straight forward it was just a trip to go play piano, but the way I see it is an experience of a lifetime.

Vienna – By Elise Bulman

There are many words that I can use to describe Vienna--amazing, wondrous, magical and unbelievable.  But I think two words sum it up perfectly: “a dream.”  Every moment in this magical city was like walking on air.  I traveled with the unexplainable feeling of true awe at the stunning art, historic palaces, exquisite desserts, charming shops and markets, and amazing music (and clean bathrooms).  However, most of all, I was in awe of the many brilliant musical minds who walked these streets some 200 years ago.  

After spending a week in Vienna, here are some other observations that may not be found in travel guide books.  Elise’s “know before you go” list:  

They do not serve ice in drinks.  It tastes better that way—the ice just waters down the taste (no matter what your mother tells you to the contrary).
They have champagne at breakfast—cereal, not so much.
Their coffee is EXTRA strong and if you have not tasted a Viennese pastry you have not lived yet.
They love hazelnuts (almost every candy involves them in some way).
Wiener Schnitzel is more popular than it should be.

All of the above is very nice but the best part of the trip was that it made me a bigger person. It increased my cultural awareness and made me appreciate how much I have and how much I have learned through Miss Kim’s diligence and hard work.  

Thank you so much Miss Kim for what you have done for me.  I really appreciate it.


Trip to Vienna 2017 - Beethoven Museum By Karalim Cruikshank 

When Miss Kim gave me Six Variations, I listened to it and it sounded beautiful.  I thought it would be hard, but the notes weren’t as difficult as I thought.  I realized that the dynamics was harder than the notes.  Also another challenging part was keeping track of my place in the piece and keeping from repeating.  I practiced and practiced hard and I was able to play with dynamics but without any repeating problems.

I especially loved playing fifth and sixth Variation because they are fast and for the sound that they make.  After many soirées, when I got to Vienna I finally got to play in Beethoven’s museum.  When I played, I wasn’t scared, I was happy.  In Vienna, I liked going to lots of museums and eating sweets with Miss Kim.  It wasn’t easy to practice but I loved performing and traveling with Miss Kim. I look forward to performing and traveling to another city with Miss Kim. 

I would like to thank Miss Kim for letting me play at the Beethoven Museum.

Vienna Trip by Brooke Benson

When I learned I was going to go to Vienna, all I could think about was the long plane ride and not that I was performing at the opening of the Beethoven museum.  I got over that once we were mid-air on Austrian Airlines with every movie selection at my fingertips and comfortably settled in my new neck pillow.

There are so many things to enjoy, see and learn in Vienna, many of which I spent with Miss Kim.  Late night Aida visits, shopping at Zara and meeting the Boys Choir of Vienna are among just a few.  In between our museum, cemetery and scheduled piano practices, we were lucky enough to take a day trip to Salzburg.  I won’t mention how we almost missed the only train that morning that would get us there in time for our Sound of Music tour-phew!

We ate Wiener Schnitzel, torts from the Sacher Hotel and even visited the Starbucks.  Who knew Vienna had great Japanese food? Stick with Miss Kim and she will introduce you to the best street food Vienna has to offer.  

I am so lucky to be a part of LPMC and look forward to our next journey.

Beethoven Museum reflection by Morgan Benson

Performing in Vienna for the opening of the Beethoven museum was an honor and privilege.  Although the preparation was difficult it was also one of the best experiences of my life.  I became closer with many of my peers and even closer with Miss Kim. 

We went to the opera, heard the symphony in the Golden Hall and practiced in Haydn and Schubert’s homes, a classical music lover’s dream!  We shopped the Christmas markets until we found just the right wood carved angels just like Miss Kim’s. 

Miss Kim took my sister, mom and I to see the Vienna boys choir followed by the best street food Vienna has to offer.  We even had our picture taken with a few of the boys which I am told is quite special since they are rarely seen.

During my 9 ½ hour return flight, I had a lot of time to reflect on my trip.  The history I saw and made being a part of LPMC and the opening of the Beethoven museum will be ingrained in my mind forever.  

A Memory of Moonlight by Andrew Young

Preparation Before the Vienna Trip

I initially thought the preparation required to play a Beethoven piece would be easy. After all, I learned Fur Elise when I was 9 years old in a just a few short weeks.  Little did I know, however, how wrong I was! Slow practice, drill down sections and repetition – that’s all I worked on for weeks through the summer.  When I thought I had the Moonlight Sonata sounding like a Beethoven piece, there was always another hurdle that I needed to overcome - the pedals, for instance.  In fact, I had an entire lesson devoted just to pushing pedals so that I would not make a squeaky or thumping sound that would overshadow the pianissimo of this melancholy sonata. 

Once I thought Moonlight was sounding pretty good, I now had to memorize it.  My frustration in trying to memorize this sonata was profoundly felt by my family, who just a few days prior was hearing beautiful sounds through the house, and who now would hear extra loud pounding as I worked through recollecting each section of the piece. In my head, I heard Miss Kim playing along side me with her calming humming of the tune, as I tried to remember all the details of the sonata she had taught me all these weeks.

When I finally had it memorized, I thought I was in the clear as there were two months to go before Vienna.  Nope.  Now the real work began – the dynamics.  I thought it was hard to make my left hand play louder than my right hand for Shubert’s Impromptu, but then Miss Kim asked me to play my pinky finger notes on my right hand louder than all my other fingers.  Really?  Who could hear that small difference?  I had been listening to Moonlight on my iTunes playlist for months already and never heard that.  Miss Kim, of course, was right.  Those notes too were more distinctive on my Arthur Rubenstein track; I just never knew how to listen to those details.  Learning how to make the song truthful to Beethoven now became my obsession for weeks.

The last part of the preparation was the hardest for me – performance.  As I am not an extroverted person and being on stage for anything is not something I would naturally seek to do, I tried to channel my strength from knowing that I am prepared.  I had analyzed Beethoven’s notes, practiced endless hours at home, and practiced in front of live audiences at soiree – for the frank reality check that, no matter how well I play at home, I may not play the same in front of so many pairs of eyes staring at me and in front of people who will know that I made a mistake if my pinky played a note too softly.

Follow Up After the Trip

Despite my best efforts to procrastinate, all my preparation and anxiety came to a head on the day of my first performance at the Beethoven Museum.  I remembered scanning nervously around the standing-room-only concert chamber and seeing the serious facial expressions of the audience members.  Their eyes appeared to focus intently on me, and their breathing and anticipation were palpable.  It must have been Miss Kim’s training that somehow pulled me through this grueling first performance.  While I could not avoid being nervous, my fingers were brave and calm, each remembering clearly Miss Kim’s instructions on tempo and dynamics.  I was relieved when I heard the audience burst into instantaneous applause after the last note.  My mom said it was the first sincere smile she’s seen of me since we arrived in Vienna.

After this first performance, I was finally able to enjoy Vienna.  The history, culture, art, food and architecture were even more interesting in person than what I read in our guide books. I felt incredulous when I saw everything -- the National Treasury, the Albertina Museum and the Vienna Philharmonic Concert Hall were my favorites.  I would like to thank Miss Kim sincerely for not only choosing such a thoughtful piece of music which suits my playing style so well, but also for having confidence in me and preparing me for a performance that I will remember for a lifetime.

My Impressions on Our Trip to Vienna by Eve Young

    Leading up to our trip to Vienna, I was very nervous that I would not make it.  Miss Kim told us that we needed to do our very, very best to be chosen to go, so all summer I practiced really hard to get my Beethoven Bagatelle memorized.  I was determined to go and try all those cakes and pastries that Miss Kim had been telling me about - from the chocolate cakes, to the donuts, to the cream puffs and cookies.  I had my first soiree in September and was so scared because I did not play my best.  Knowing that every performance was judged by Miss Kim made me extra scared.  At my second soiree, I calmed down and played better, but Miss Kim told me that I should still play louder and a little faster.  So I practiced more still, and thankfully I made it!

    When I first arrived in Vienna, I was so excited that I did not notice that I had not slept for hours.  Our first meal in Vienna was at Café Central, which was across the street from our hotel.  Since it was early in the morning, we ate breakfast food, but I could see that this place had lots of cakes and pastries.  I hoped that we could go back later for these treats.  We then took a nap and woke up in time for dinner.  We ate at a restaurant where I tried schnitzel for the first time.  It was interesting how it was flat like a pancake but tasted like fried chicken without any of the bones.  We then took a quick walk back to our hotel and passed by a really tall church which seemed so creepy in the dark evening sky.  My dad later told me that it was St. Stephen’s Cathedral which looks more interesting during the daytime.  Back to the hotel (with no time left to try one of the desserts at Café Central!) and off to bed, because mom told us that we could not be tired before the busy day and my first performance on Monday.

    When mom woke Andrew and me up, my head hurt and I really did not want get up, but mom kept telling me that I would feel better once I splashed some water on my face.  The jetlag, she said, is always worse on the first day.  I rushed to get dressed and we quickly ate breakfast, but there was no time again for pastries or cakes.  I had to practice the bagatelle at a different hotel because my first performance was at night.  After a short practice session, we met everyone at a museum where we had a tour of the museum and saw these detailed models of the city.  Then off to a quick lunch at a Japanese restaurant (no cake or pastries, though), and we met everyone again at City Hall.  Finally!  Cakes & pastries!  I tried apple strudel for the first time, which tasted like apple pie with melted ice cream.  I also ate a slice of chocolate cake and two tasty tarts.    

    All of us then took a bus together to finally see the Beethoven Museum.  It was a short bus ride, and I was anxious to see the house where Beethoven lived.  After everyone’s exciting performances, we walked to the outside garden where there was a shiny plaque which says “Whe Do Kim Garden.”  It was such an exciting moment to see Miss Kim’s surprised look on her face when they showed her the plaque.  What I enjoyed most about Vienna was not only the fantastic desserts, but also the time I spent with Miss Kim, my family, and all our piano friends enjoying our special visit to this magical city of classical music.

Jennifer Kang, who is a former student of LPMC and now working at Amazon made a donation of $10000 and says :

 Heheh well, you know how much piano and music mean to me! And very sadly, I had a moment where a coworker didn’t even recognize the most famous theme of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony!! It really made me sad that we’ll educated people were so clueless 😢 So we need to make sure the younger generations grow up appreciating music!

Andrew's preparation for the performances in vienna

I initially thought the preparation required to play a Beethoven piece would be easy. After all, I learned Fur Elise when I was 9 years old in a just a few short weeks.  Little did I know, however, how wrong I was! Slow practice, drill down sections and repetition – that’s all I worked on for weeks through the summer.  When I thought I had Moonlight sounding like a Beethoven piece, there was always another hurdle that I needed to go over - the pedals, for instance.  In fact, I had an entire lesson devoted just to pushing pedals so that I would not make a squeaky or thumping sound that would overshadow the pianissimo of this sonata. 

Once I thought Moonlight was sounding pretty good, I now had to memorize it.  My frustration in trying to memorize this sonata was profoundly felt by my family, who just a few days prior was hearing beautiful sounds through the house, and who now would hear extra loud pounding as I worked through recollecting each section of the piece. In my head I heard Miss Kim playing along side me with her calming humming of the tune, as I tried to remember all the details of the song she had taught me all these weeks.

When I finally had it memorized, I thought I was in the clear as there were two months to go before Vienna.  Nope.  Now the real work began – the dynamics.  I thought it was hard to make my left hand play louder than my right hand for Shubert’s Impromptu, but then Miss Kim asked me to play my pinky finger notes on my right hand louder than all my other fingers.  Really?  Who could hear that small difference?  I had been listening to Moonlight on my iTunes playlist for months already and never heard that.  Miss Kim, of course, was right.  Those notes too were more distinctive on my Arthur Rubenstein track; I just never knew how to listen to those details.  Learning how to make the song truthful to Beethoven now became my obsession for weeks.

The last part of the preparation was the hardest for me – performance.  As I am not an extroverted person and being on stage for anything is not something I would naturally do, I tried to channel my strength from knowing that I am prepared.  I had analyzed Beethoven’s notes, practiced endless hours at home, and practiced in front of live audiences at soiree – for the frank reality check that, no matter how well I play at home, I may not play the same in front of so many pairs of eyes staring at me and in front of people who will know that I made a mistake if my pinky played a note too softly.

Andrew Young, Age 13


On a cold and blustery Tuesday evening, donors, musicians, academics, and students braved the rain to attend the American Friends of the Vienna Museum's kick-off celebration. PianoForte's magnificent performance space provided the perfect venue for guests to enjoy Austrian wine, Viennese appetizers, and sparkling conversation. 

Wein Museum Director Matti Bunzl acknowledged the Lincoln Park Music Center Foundation's role in making the renovation and expansion of the Beethoven Museum a reality. He paid tribute to LPMC Foundation founder Whe Do Kim, her students, and their families. Matti invited all present to visit the Beethoven Museum-- the world's largest-- after it opens in November 2017. 

Jeane-Emily Dubose

Salehi's Fundraising Story for the beethoven museum heiligenstadt

A complete renovation of the prestigious Beethoven's Heilegenstadt House to a Museum  required a lot of money to be raised to make it possible so we each needed to raise a good amount of money to contribute to this cause. 

For us, we raised money for this cause by saving up our allowance money in order to accumulate money to donate. At first, we were not eager on this idea, yet as time went on and as we got better at our pieces for the dedication concert we realized how these intricate pieces needed to be performed in the best possible venue. Therefore, we gladly donated our allowance money (and had our parents match, too) for one year and really look forward to seeing how the Beethoven Museum Heiligenstadt looks like and ultimately perform there. 

Parhum & Pariya Salehi, age 12

Sepehr Salehi, age 16


Every time I look down on this timeless town
Whether blue or gray be her skies
Whether loud be her cheers or whether soft be her tears
More and more do I realize that

I love Paris in the springtime
I love Paris in the fall
I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles
I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles

I love Paris every moment
Every moment of the year
I love Paris
Why, oh, why do I love Paris?
Because my love is near

These are the lyrics to Ella Fitzgerald’s I Love Paris, one of my favorite tunes of all time. I love Paris in the same way Ella loves Paris. Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved that city of love. When I became a pianist, I had a dream: to perform in my favorite city. On June 23rd, 2016, my life long dream came true as I played the third movement of Grieg’s only piano concerto in Theatre Adyar with the Concorde Symphony. Afterwords, I found myself floating among clouds and buried miles underground. I had lived my dream; I had played my heart and soul in my city. But I had also lived a dream that I was not ready to let go. I found myself mourning the loss of my piece and the romance of the stage, wondering why I ever took my final bow and why the spotlight had to go out. I wanted to live my dream over and over again.

I am forever grateful to Miss Kim for guiding me and teaching me. Without her, I would not know love, music and passion in the way I do. She has showed me a part of myself that I cherish. It was her who reminded me that this dream does not vanish once I have lived it, it only will become stronger. It will drive me to great heights and bigger challenges. It reminds me of the feeling of triumph and victory, it reminds me of the value of work and passion. It will lead me to another stage with another symphony; it will give me new dreams and bigger accomplishments.

This was truly a trip to remember and I want to thank all of my fellow student musicians for helping me through. This was a magical experience that I got to share with equally magical people, so for that, I thank you all. 

Lena Hoplamazian, age 16


The first time I accompanied Miss Kim to Paris, I had just finished my first year of middle school.  This was, of course, the transitory period in my life between being a child, when I was enjoying taking naps, and being a teenager, when not even an earthquake could have woken me up.  Stuck between these periods of appreciating sleep, I vowed to stay awake for as long as I could.

On the flight over, Grace and I talked, watched movies, and read for the ten hours on the flight.  My plan to stay awake the entire trip to enjoy Paris backfired shortly into our trip to our hotel as I could barely stay awake.  Undaunted by the concept of jet lag, Miss Kim pushed us into starting our day.  Each place we visited that day was a battle to stay awake, or a potential place to catch a few minutes of shut-eye. We fell asleep everywhere, from a bench in a money exchanging kiosk to the steps of our hotel.  I almost brained myself on one of the steps of the Eiffel Tower from lack of sleep as Miss Kim ushered us up the metal structure.  My mom still has a voice recording of my slurred voice telling her I was at the top of the tower on our answering machine.

Throughout the next ten days, Miss Kim would push me to experience Paris to the fullest. She completely disregarded my initial penchant for French onion soup and instead commanded I try escargot, pâté, and macarons from Ladurée, and to only order in French.  I remember she dropped the four other girls and me on the Métro by ourselves and told us to navigate our way to Père Lachaise cemetery.  Over the course of that trip, Miss Kim helped nurture and guide me towards understanding the idiosyncrasies of French culture and Paris as a city, and this understanding stayed with me even after we returned.  The first thing I did besides unpack was force my mom to buy me a container of Nutella.

My second trip to Paris with Miss Kim, I felt like a veteran. I at least attempted to stay asleep on the plane.  Instead of being the youngest student on the trip, as a sophomore in high school, I was in the middle age range.  Coupled with the fact that more girls my age came along on this trip, our nights stretched into the wee hours of the morning as we talked and laughed.  Although I had seen many of the famous landmarks and museums, they still filled me with the same wonder I had felt four years before.  During this trip, Miss Kim incorporated even more music into our trip.  The most memorable moment for me was visiting Maurice Ravel’s house in the countryside, where I was able to play a few measures of a waltz on his piano, and we wandered into several music stores in the city, gaining arm muscles from carrying around the nearly infinite number of books that Miss Kim intended to bring back to her students.  The days passed in a whirl of street performers, shopping in the Latin Quarter, inside joke formation, and very good food.

This trip to Paris was my third and final one, and notably, the first that included all of us performing.  Though our rehearsal was affected by jet lag and was stressful, our performance the next day was brilliant. Even though I’ve been a student of Miss Kim’s for 13 years, and played in concerts for more than half of that time, I still get nervous whenever I play -- butterflies in the stomach, trembling hands and feet, the works.  Some things never change. Regardless, when I performed on that Opera House stage, surrounded by my friends, fellow musicians, and loved ones, I left something on that stage -- my goodbye to this wonderful part of my life as I leave for college. This summer’s Paris trip was a bittersweet journey through goodbyes and last times, and I know part of me will still stay in the city until the next time I return, hopefully accompanied by Miss Kim and a new generation of pianists.

Our first day in Switzerland, I took wobbly steps down the stairs of the tour bus that had carried us all the way from Paris.  My altitude sickness was put immediately at ease by the clean, fresh air, and immediately we all threw our things in our room to begin exploring the small village, Grindelwald.  Besides its obvious appeal as a reference to Harry Potter for me, the location of the village is hidden, tucked away and cradled within several peaks of the Alps. Shortly after we finished dinner, we walked the single, cobblestoned street to the end, where we caught the beginning of our first Switzerland sunset.  While snapping photographs, I had a sudden flashback to when I played the piece Alpenglühen, aptly named “Alpine Glow” after the brilliant, red glow that occurs shortly after sunset.  This last trip, for me, was like that glow: ephemeral, but brilliant.  My time as both a high school student and a regular student of Miss Kim’s may have come to an end, but the memories and experiences I have made with both her and the other pianists will always remain with me for the rest of my life.

Hannah Chow, age 18


As my piano career at LMPC comes to a close, I feel ever more so grateful and thankful, in learning and listening to my peers of LPMC from whom we interchangeably motivate and challenge ourselves and each other to excel. We (as a group) have come far and will further in our journeys. Ms. Kim has proved she has so much more to teach.

There are honestly no words to describe the life-changing experiences and hallmark educational and sheer fun moments that I've gone through in all these years. From having points docked from my LPMC duet performance in the 5th grade for wearing pants, to learning how to sleep standing up in Prague, I will never forget these as some of my greatest and most memorable moments. I’ll remember Ms. Kim’s face as her keyboard came crashing down on the sudden collapse of its stand during rehearsal, and I’ll definitely remember the horrendous first soirees of each year. But what I’ll remember the most is the care and compassion that Ms. Kim showered me when I needed it most. Ms. Kim has not only taught me how to play piano brilliantly and full of sparkle, she has taught me valuable life lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. 

Ms. Kim, words cannot begin to describe what you mean to me. You have known me since I was four, and in these years, you have given me structure to my otherwise active and hectic multi-sports, multi-extracurricular-filled, and fun social life, taught me how to pace myself, and lent me the strength to persevere through any obstacles I face. You have stood on my side, biting your tongue despite my making you anxious with my erratic piano practice and my many sports-related injuries, always believing in me, knowing I will consistently come through, even if it’s literally 36 hours into pre-concerto days. Your belief in me paves a significant foundation for me to push myself to succeed. You love me like a mother with unparalleled sensitivity, warmth, and support, instilling in me self-confidence and self-pride. I am blessed to have you in my life.

I can say wholeheartedly that I have never felt such support and care as I have felt growing up in this LMPC community. This year we have all endured endless stress with college apps and respective high schools' academia and sports/extracurricular endeavors in addition to piano, but I know that there wasn’t a single member of this senior class who wasn’t bubbling with excitement for our LPMC journey to perform in Europe. We have stretched a long way and words fail to fully express the gratitude I feel towards LMPC and everyone involved in it. 

This year, traveling to perform in Paris and to visit Switzerland, was one of the most amazing journeys I’ve ever embarked on, and I’ll remember it forever. Having the opportunity to not only play a Saint-Saens concerto in Paris, but to be the finale in my last concert as an LMPC student practically overwhelmed me. It was the grand finale that I had always dreamed to be a part of, and gave me memories that I’ll keep with me through college and through the rest of my life. 

One of the greatest parts about our trip in Europe this year was the dynamic of the people who went. We had all grown up together, and had all worked tirelessly to perform beyond expectations. The concert went flawlessly, and I think I can wholeheartedly say that everyone was remarkable. So, as a reward, the rest of the trip was packed with activities that definitely, at times, pushed us all out of our comfort zone. Paris was mainly filled with sightseeing and explorations, while Switzerland was filled with adventures that no normal piano group could even imagine embarking on. Every day held a new journey, whether it be paragliding, climbing up to obscenely high altitudes, karting down hills, or simply just hiking around- there was never a dull moment. 

Looking back on it, I don’t think I’ll ever make memories as strong as the ones that I made with the LMPC group. There are no words that can express how thankful I am that I was given the opportunity to make those memories. It was a trip of a lifetime that taught me much more than just a few German and French phrases, and I hope that someday we will all have a reunion and can relive it all over again.

Thank you Miss Kim, and everyone, so much for giving me a second home and teaching me a lifetime’s worth of knowledge- at home in Chicago, and abroad in Europe. 

Morgan McDougall, age 18


Traveling to Paris and Switzerland with Miss Kim and my fellow pianists was the best experience of my life – the very BEST part was the concert. At first I couldn’t believe that I was going to PARIS to play a concert. It felt so amazing. The theater was magnificent and the orchestra was astounding. I felt like a professional pianist. I have to admit that I felt very nervous, but whenever I felt nervous, I would remember the words of Miss Kim, "If you are not nervous then you wouldn't be prepared." Putting my nerves a side, I finished my performance and when I finished, Miss Kim was waiting with a high five!

I have been lucky to visit different places in the world, but never to Paris – it was worth the wait! We visited so many things! It certainly helped that our piano teacher lived there for 8 years of her life. One thing that struck me most where the cemeteries; Paris had the largest cemeteries I think I have ever seen. Just to get through one of them you had to have had a huge map. They were fascinating!

 Another part of the trip that I will always remember will be Switzerland. From the amazing views to the terrifying paragliding - it was awesome! One of my favorite moments was when I got to bike out of the town we were staying in. I got to see things that you would never see anywhere else in the world. There were some moments where I just got off my bike, looked at the scenery and thought to myself, "Is this really real?"  I feel extremely fortunate to be able to see these amazing sites.

I have to give a very big ‘thank you’ to Miss Kim, if it was not for her planning (and great teaching), I would have missed out on this incredible experience.

Leo Hoplamazian, age 12


Spotlight: Sarah Silverman and the People's Music School

I am a long time student at the Lincoln Park Music Center. I am also one of the founding student members of the Lincoln Park Music Center Foundation. The Lincoln Park Music Center Foundation was established to help enhance the lives of others through music.

The first organization that the Lincoln Park Music Center Foundation has partnered with is The People’s Music School in Uptown Chicago. The Lincoln Park Music Center Foundation and The People’s Music School were brought together through the common belief that high quality music programs for children are a necessity. We were impressed with the student’s passion and positive attitude towards their musical studies. The students at The People’s Music School truly want to learn music. In order to stay in the program, students must maintain good grades in school and show improvement in music over the course of the year.

    When I, along with other student members of the Lincoln Park Music Center Foundation, first started working with The People’s Music School we volunteered time over the summer to privately tutor children. The children were so appreciative to receive one-on-one time to practice their pieces and to review their music theory lessons. Over the course of the summer and into school year, our student members have continued to volunteer their time in this way.

    When I first started spending time with the students at The People’s Music School, I knew that I wanted to do more. I got in touch with Jennifer Matsuzawa, the President and Creative Director of The People’s Music School. She helped me find additional opportunities such as being a mentor in a summer music program which was hosted by The People’s Music School. More recently I was placed in a group class of seven and eight year olds. In this class, I help the teacher provide more one-on-one time with each kid. Every Thursday at 5 pm the kids eagerly show me their homework sheets and tell me about their week at school. We play games to practice music theory and perform in front of each other to learn about presentation (and being a good audience member). Nothing compares to watching the children beam when they finally master a tricky piece, or even just remember what a bass clef is.

    Working with these kids every week has taught me more about myself than I ever thought it would. I feel motivated to work just as hard as these kids, to put in a little more time each week in my academic and musical studies. I have learned to celebrate each victory, large or small, and have learned to appreciate my teachers and their never ending patience a lot more. I also learned that the musical community is so much bigger than I ever imagined. I have met so many amazing people from all over Chicago that I never would have met without music. And for that I have learned to appreciate music, and the people who brought it into my life more than ever before.

-Sarah Silverman, Junior Board Member

European Tour Reflections

Hello All,

My name is Lena Hoplamazian and I am one of the High School members of the Lincoln Park Music Center Foundation. I also had the immense pleasure of taking part in the two-week whirlwind tour of Prague, Crakow, Warsaw, Vienna and Salzburg over this summer. I was able to preform with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra and witness the incredible beauty and history of Europe with some of my fellow musicians and friends. Hear some of their own experiences in the section below.


It is an incredible opportunity to be able to go to three countries, five cities, and countless sites related to distinguished classical composers all in the span of two weeks. The first stop was Prague in the Czech Republic, where I had the pleasure to perform with the talented Czech National Symphony Orchestra. I am sure not many can say they've done the same. Soon thereafter, we were off to Poland, a place that I now hold very dear to my heart due to two very important things: everything related to my favorite composer Frédéric Chopin (his birthplace, the church where he was baptized, the church that now holds his heart, and much more), and the patriotic and kind Polish people from whom we learned so much about their country's history. Poland, a place I had never imagined going to, is now one of my favorite places in the world. Next was Austria, where we visited the homes of many composers including Beethoven, Strauss, and Mozart. We covered so much in such a small span of time - it was impressive. Visiting all of these places undoubtedly strengthened my love for classical music. I left Austria with Strauss' "Blue Danube" stuck in my head and hummed for days afterwards.

--Jane Agler

Europe’s incredible music, architecture, history, and ambiance captured me once again. Traveling back to Prague and performing at the Ambassador’s residence was an incredibly enriching experience. I was fascinated by the long history of the home—it originating as the home to the country’s richest jewish family, then seized by the Nazis and Soviets, and finally, owned by the Americans—and experienced it in each beautiful room. Performing with the National Czech Orchestra is a privilege and I am grateful to have had the opportunity. 

Moving out of Prague and into Poland, the landscape and people changed. I got to experience a brand new set of customs, food, and lifestyle. Although devastated by the war, Poland’s beauty is restored in the architecture capturing historic polish style. Salzburg and Vienna brought the beauty of the Austrian countryside and the music of Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Strauss, and more. I quickly absorbed the rich musical history the nation over the centuries. Through a mixture of Viennese history and snapshots into the lives of composers, I understood why Vienna was the center of the music world. I was inspired by the several live musical performances that we saw throughout the cities. I found myself excited to return home and start new pieces and research the music I had heard (even attempt to play some too). The experience stays with me as the height of my musical journey with Miss Kim. I can happily look forward to my last concert with the Prague performance behind me, adding to my confidence and experience as a pianist. 

-- Isabella Norris

This trip was easily one of the best experiences of my life. I feel life all my years as a piano player have lead up to this. We have learned so much information about the composers and the music over the years, but to actually be in the heart of it all was amazing. I particularly loved going to Chopin's house; he is my favorite composer and his house was just beautiful. I also enjoyed going to the palaces, such as the Schömbrunn Palace and the Hofburg Palace. Although the concerts we attended were not typical concerts (rather than being serious and emotional, they were rather light and funny), they were still very fun to go to. I also enjoyed being with the group and spending time with people I really like. It was nice to take a break once in a while and go shopping with my friends. Overall, this trip was amazing and I cannot thank the people who made it happen enough.

--Max Pizer-Lippitz

Our two weeks in Europe were a wonderful combination of academic inquiry, musical exploration, and great ice cream!  In Prague, our concert was an adventure in improvisation, with only one rehearsal with the orchestra before we performed in the beautiful ambassador's residence.  In Krakow, walking through the square and enjoying the beauty of such an old city was exhilarating.  In Warsaw, the feeling of the big city was incredibly exciting, and seeing Chopin's house was a great experience.  The history and gravity of our visit to Auschwitz stuck with us throughout the trip.  Austria was beautiful, and walking the bridges and through the fort in Salzburg was a peaceful experience.  The gardens were lush and the market was friendly and colorful.   Our final destination, Vienna, was enriching and interesting, from our private concert on Strauss' piano, to the wienerscnitzel we enjoyed on the last night.  All in all, the trip was wonderful, and we are all so thankful to have had the opportunity to tour Europe in such a thoughtful way.

-- Mara Hoplamazian