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Northern Illinois University Your Future, Our Focus Northern Illinois University Your Future, Our Focus

Cheng-Hou Lee

Cheng-Hou Lee

How to begin your musical career on the right note

For musicians, perfecting your craft is a lifelong symphony. Cheng-Hou Lee, associate professor in the NIU School of Music, helps his students set the stage to make their own beautiful music.

To study with Lee, a renowned cellist and chamber musician who has performed and taught master classes all over the globe, means you can expect valuable and personalized insights.   

“I tailor what I tell each student. I try to find the most efficient way for them to play their instrument. I try to help them find their voices,” Lee said.

Ya-Chen (Jessy) Lee, a graduate student of Lee’s, said studying with him is one of her favorite things at NIU. He helps her understand the music, which allows her to learn faster.

“Cheng-Hou is very patient during lessons. He discusses music with me when we have different opinions instead of forcing me to play the way he likes me to play. He teaches me how to practice in a way that makes it more efficient, and makes my music more delicate and beautiful,” Jessy Lee said.

To be sure, those who receive private cello instruction from Lee perfect all the technical aspects of playing but learn subtleties too.

“I try to engage students and discuss what the music is about, what the composer’s intentions were. Musicians are so technical. Sometimes you forget what the most important thing is. You are thinking about where I’m supposed to place my arms, how long to hold a note … you forget this is a mysterious piece, or about angels singing.”

Lee said his favorite thing is helping students achieve their individual goals.

“It’s like a puzzle,” he said. “I have to figure out different things to say to different people even though they have the same exact problem. It helps me grow as a teacher, and also helps me as a player.”