4 Hands, 2 Hearts, and 1 Piano: Teaching Life Lessons Through Music

Published: February 09, 2017

4 Hands, 2 Hearts, and 1 Piano: Teaching Life Lessons Through Music

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – On Feb. 2, Dr. Sangmi Lim was joined by her husband, Dr. Dino Mulic, for a recital of four-hand works for piano by Mozart, Schubert, Denader, and Piazzola; respectively, a dazzling display of music from the Classical, Romantic, and 20th Century eras. The event took place at the Performance Arts Center on the campus of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

Two people sitting at one piano, playing complicated parts, is not only entertaining for the audience, but the physical limitations serve as a metaphor for relationships. “You have to be aware of your movements, understanding boundaries, deciding what is important, and being able to read the other person,” said Lim.

As both a master and ongoing student of the piano, Lim enjoys introducing new ideas to her audiences as a way of fusing education with performance. 

“First of all, I love to teach!” exclaimed Lim.

Following instructor positions at Michigan State University (MSU) and Lasing Community College, Lim became part of the Island University’s Department of Music in 2016, as the Collaborative Pianist. As an accompanist for the operatic and choral programs, she works with faculty and student performers in a variety of concert settings. In mentoring music majors, she focuses on aspects beyond instrumental mastery: how to prepare for rehearsals, setting the stage, practice strategies, professional decorum, and most importantly, understanding how to work fruitfully with other musicians. Moreover, she is passionate about continuing the tradition of learning.

“It is not just teaching students how to perform, but teaching them how to teach music to others,” said Lim.

Lim is a believer that culture and collaboration are inherently intertwined.

“I love people. I love to talk to people, and I like it when people support each other,” she said. “Music is not just about the notes and rhythms. Music is the culture. Music is the person. Music is also language.”

Lim enjoys finding out “who the other musician is” by the way he or she performs and interacts as part of the ensemble. Continuing that collaborative tone, she encourages more interaction between the Island University and the Coastal Bend, offering that “a university is a cultural center for the community, not just students.” 

She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in music from Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea before earning her Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) from MSU. Mulic is a native of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and an active recitalist, holding a D.M.A from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently serves as Lecturer in Piano at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. They met in 2009, subsequently performing together in a string of appearances, including summer concerts at the Sarajevo Music Festival in 2012, one of the more significant chamber music series. 

Realizing the challenges she and her husband faced as international scholars, Lim understands that for many students coming to the United States, it can be daunting.

“Don’t be afraid of people, because people are different, but also the same,” she advised. “You should embrace your culture but also learn from others. Diversity can make the world strong.”   

When asked for advice, Lim stated that students should embrace all the resources of the university and “try new things, find out who you are, and reach out to others.”