Curious. This is how Hannah Sternberg’s professors describe her. This college sophomore can’t seem to stop learning about the instruments she loves.
Hannah Sternberg is a sophomore Music Education-Instrumental major with her primary instruments being violin and bass. Hannah began her passion for music at a young age. She started playing violin in kindergarten and added standup bass as a high school sophomore. Throughout her schooling, Hannah loved all types of art but was especially drawn to music. Her passion brought her to the UWEC Music & Theatre Arts department, a decision she hasn’t regretted.
Long before attending UWEC, Hannah embraced her power of [AND] as a high school student. Hannah was involved with numerous demanding extracurricular activities that require proficiency and elite playing abilities in both violin and bass. In high school, Hannah was a part of Brookfield Central’s pit orchestra and jazz band. She was also a member of the Honors Jazz Institute and the Advanced Chamber Institute, two elite high school hool-level ensembles that rehearse at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Milwaukee, WI.
It was through these valuable musical experiences that Hannah developed a passion for both the violin and bass, a passion that she wanted to carry over to her college career. It’s not often in the UWEC Music and Theatre Arts Department that professors come across students who are skillfully-trained in two instruments, especially at the level in which Hannah is performing. This versatility has given Hannah numerous opportunities to shine here on campus. She is involved with several university ensembles, including Jazz Ensemble I, the University Symphony Orchestra, and multiple jazz combos, just to name a few.
“That’s been one of the amazing things about having her in the program,” says Joshua Schwalbach, Lecturer of Music-Double Bass here at UW-Eau Claire. “She’s one of those students that we like to say she takes full advantage of everything we have to offer.”
Prof. Schwalbach speaks to Hannah’s advantage as a musician and future ensemble director when discussing her experience in both violin and bass. “That versatility is going to pay off,” he notes. “Having an orchestra director who knows how to play upper and lower strings and give good attention to both sides of that spectrum will make any student who ends up in an orchestra like that lucky to have her.”
As impressive as Hannah’s musical experiences have been, equally impressive is her attitude in the classroom.
“Her personality and attitude, it’s so positive,” says Nobuyoshi (Nobu) Yasuda, Professor of Music-Violin and the Director of Orchestra. He goes on to explain that students like Hannah make teaching extremely rewarding. According to Nobu, when students share the same passion and energy as their directors during rehearsals, the ensemble starts to create music that is impactful, music that has emotion behind the notes that are being played. “I’m getting a lot of inspiration from her,” he states.
Schwalbach concurs with this assertion saying “Hannah always has this super sunny personality, and it certainly rubs off on me.”
It's safe to say that a large part of Hannah’s success is due to the motivation she instills within herself. However, Hannah will also be the first to point out that an equally important influence factor in her success is the UWEC Music and Theatre Arts Department itself.
“Every professor that I have met has helped me think about learning in a different way,” says Hannah. She finds this especially helpful in the practice room when she’s stuck on measures with tricky fingerings. She thinks back to the wise and famous words of Gary Don, Professor of Music Theory: “Slow it down.”
Practicing is tough sometimes, all musicians know that. But when asked what her biggest motivator is to practice, she says it comes down meeting the expectations of her professors. They have given her challenging pieces for her repertoire - pieces she didn’t think she could handle - but she doesn’t want to let them down. Her professors believe she is capable of performing at a certain level, and the only way to get there is, quite simply, to practice.
Upon graduating, Hannah plans to go into teaching, specifically at the high school level. Ever since high school, Hannah knew that she was meant to teach. “I never had a doubt about the plan I had,” she says. From there, she has hopes to return to life as a student and attend graduate school.
In closing, Hannah gives readers this advice: “The key to success is having a positive attitude and that growth mindset, so that even when you’re frustrated or kind of plateauing, you can push yourself past what you can think you can do. Or, just stick to that routine so that you can keep getting better.”