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Musician Interviews – Lisa An


I was born in Seoul, South Korea, and moved to the United States at age five. I have currently been living in Issaquah for the past 12 years.  My mom is a violinist, so I naturally grew up listening to music around the house. I first picked up the violin when I was 8 years old, with the quarter-size bow grasped in my little fist of determination.”


Lisa (Class of ’23) joined the Coleman Violin Studio to pursue her musical development and is currently studying with Professor Simon James. Some achievements Lisa has accomplished include winning the Washington State MTNA, State OPUS Music Competition, Evergreen Philharmonic Concerto, Eastshore Solo and Ensemble Festival, Russian Chamber Music, Korean Music Association Young Artist, and the Seattle Bach Festival.

In addition to being an amazing musician, Lisa is the co-director of Musicians for Equality, a non-profit organization that advocates for equity across the globe. Lisa loves to give back to her community by bringing music to converts and raising money for students in need to afford music lessons. She is also the director of communications for Relay, a high school, and college dual-enrollment mentorship program for Running Start students.

“Forcing yourself to play the passage you have trouble with over and over again is not efficient. Figure out the problem, address it, then fix it. Give yourself plenty of time, habits are difficult to fix and it’s completely normal to take a couple of weeks or even months.”

More about Lisa

What is the biggest adversity you have faced? Biggest moment of your life?

I don’t believe the biggest moment of my life has happened yet. I’m consistently working towards achieving my goals, and I am convinced that there are big events ahead for me as long as I continue to do so! As for adversity, I definitely remember feeling like I missed out on the “teenage experience” due to my long practice hours in middle school. During the time I was supposed to be hanging out with friends, I was pinned down by the arrows of criticism from my music instructors and felt lost in the endless space of things to improve on. I recall having a rough relationship with myself up until recently because I wasn’t satisfied with where I was in my musical journey. I felt like I was going in circles, hitting the same mistakes over and over again like a clock needle hitting midnight. My strong desire to improve caused me to overlook my minuscule milestones of improvement, and now I recognize that I had failed to provide myself with the encouragement that would have fueled me to push through my challenges. Reflecting back, I am grateful to my old self for facing those hardships at a young age to ultimately lead me to be where I am today.”

Do you plan to pursue music as a career? If not, what do you want to do?

I hope to continue music but I am also exploring other fields such as business and biology. The idea of going into music therapy is intriguing to me because I can incorporate my music into a form of healthcare, but I haven’t done enough research yet. The answer to this question could very easily change in the near future.”

What is your favorite part of being a musician? What’s your least favorite?

My favorite part about being a musician is sharing the music that I have worked on with other people. Chamber music is definitely fulfilling because I get to listen to other musicians with varying interpretations of the same piece, and it is really fun to combine all of the members’ ideas into one version that we call ours. I don’t have any specific parts I don’t like about being a musician, but the least favorite experience I had would probably have to be when I got mistreated as a soloist by a conductor just because I was young. The ideas that I had formed and worked on for countless hours in the practice room were all disregarded, and I had to completely follow the conductor’s interpretation of the piece for the concert.”

Do you have any pet peeves that people who are musicians constantly do?

Lack of communication is probably the biggest pet peeve. Personally, if there is a concern, I like to address it and move on. However, a lot of musicians don’t like to face conflict and often it will build up to a bigger problem that is more difficult to manage.”

What is the most memorable moment you have of your musical career?

When I got paid for performing the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with an orchestra in sixth grade. That was the first time I had ever earned my own money from outside of my family. I felt empowered being the sixth grader who was capable of making her own money. Knowing that I could be a self-supporting individual one day gave me the validation I needed to convince myself that I would eventually develop skills to face the world on my own. The highlight of this experience was that it opened my eyes to how other people needed me just as much as I needed them.”

What is your biggest inspiration? 

My biggest inspiration is my mom. The biggest lesson she taught me was to do what makes me feel happy, and with the freedom, she provided for me I was able to understand a little bit more about myself. She always gave me everything she could without ever expecting an outcome.”

What is the weirdest question you have ever been asked?

I usually don’t get anything too out of the ordinary, but one time the audience members thought I was an adult professional musician in my thirties… but I was 16!! Did I really look that old? Maybe I had a bad makeup day. Embarrassing.” 

Have you ever taught music to someone else, if not, would you consider it in the future?

Teaching is currently one of the two jobs I work. Being a student myself, there are certain moments where I understand how my students feel. Due to my experiences, I find it easier to empathize rather than sympathize. It is fascinating to see all the different ways each student takes in information, because one method of teaching that works wonders on one student may not work on another. I try my best to make lessons fun and enjoyable so that they can create lots of positive memories with their instrument. These positive feelings they develop now will carry them to new experiences. They will want to explore more on their own, even when I go off to college and won’t physically be here anymore. That is my ultimate goal.”

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