Music student combines piano with pre-dentistry

Lauren Albin practicing in the Westbrook Music Building
Lauren Albin practicing in the Westbrook Music Building

Music student combines piano with pre-dentistry

calendar icon08 May 2013    

Lauren Albin, a junior from Norfolk, Neb., began playing piano when she was in second grade. She admits that what kept her practicing was her mom.

“Piano is something that I did have a natural ability, but it wasn’t that I could play without practicing,” Albin said. “There is that natural ability to come with dedication.”

Albin, a double major in pre-dentistry and piano performance, said she chose her music major to help challenge her piano skills and continue on with her passion for music.

“I feel like you can always get better,” Albin said. “I just need to keep working hard and be the best person I can be.”

Discovering her dual interests

While in high school, Albin said her piano skills was something not many of her friends knew about. She took private lessons a little but mainly focused on sports.

“One you get to a certain level in piano, it came to be more of I enjoyed playing rather than my mom making me practice,” Albin said.

When she decided to have a music major in college, Albin said her parents were very supportive and encouraged her to pursue piano.

“I don’t know why I love music so much,” she said. “I just feel like God gave us music to make us joyful and that’s something that brings me joy. If I’m upset or sad or happy, it’s a way I can express my feelings.”

Until this semester, Albin was double majoring in music and pre-med. But she recently discovered a passion for dentistry and changed her second major to pre-dentistry.

“I’ve always been fascinated with how it all works,” Albin said. “I was the annoying kid asking a bunch of questions . . . (And) interacting with people constantly. I’m a people person so being able to talk to people and patients constantly . . . I really like.”

She also switched to dentistry because it would allow her to continue on with playing the piano at weddings and church while encouraging children to pursue the arts as well.

“Whether that means going into a school and performing and doing something like that (I want) to get kids excited about music,” Albin said.

Albin hopes to be able to balance her life as a dentist and a piano player when she graduates college.

“I feel like it brings me so much joy and I feel like when I play I give people around me joy and that makes me excited,” Albin said.

Juggling studies and practicing

Currently, she said it is hard for her to plan out a schedule full of either studying, practicing and, many times, both.

“There are a lot of times where I feel like I should be practicing but I need to be studying for tests,” Albin said. “It’s like the practicing never ends. You keep practicing and practicing. You are never done.”

Though her piano professor Paul Barnes acknowledges that Albin “has a real balancing act with a real heavy load along with all of the demands of a music major,” he added that she is one of many music students who are able to tackle it.

“I simply want to maximize their potential and get them as good as humanly possible for a piano player, and that’s exactly what I’m doing with Lauren,” Barnes said.

Albin said she appreciates Barnes pushing her.

“He is awesome and the reason I love piano,” she said. “He makes playing really fun. He’s super challenging but really encouraging.”

Barnes said he predicts that with her two majors, Albin will become a patron of the arts in the future.

“It’s really important to have professional people have a great knowledge of music and ability because they become really important supporters of musicians and of concerts and music series and things like that,” Barnes said.

Plans to study abroad

This summer, Barnes is taking two students to the Amalfi Coast Music and Arts Festival in Italy. Albin is one of the students going and received a travel grant from the Hixson-Lied Endowment to do so.

“It was super exciting to get the grant because it really helped to fund my way over there,” Albin said.

Barnes said he takes students out of the country to help expose them to different cultures.

“Getting (students) out of this country and exposing them to a wonderfully high level of cultural activity and great concerts, it really inspires them to come back and work harder in terms of getting their degrees,” Barnes said. “In terms of international experience, it just expands their brains and hearts and minds and teachers always want to provide those experience for their students.”

Albin said she is excited to interact with people from around the world and connect with them on the aspects they have in common.

“Although we come from different languages, cultures and backgrounds, we all share this common love of music and love for the piano,” Albin said. “I just think it’ll be a really cool experience.”

Throughout the festival, Albin will be working with piano professors from around the world and perform pieces as well.

“I’ll get to hear a lot of different angles,” she said. “A lot of professors have a lot of different ways of teaching and critiquing and they have a different idea of how the music should sound so it’ll be cool to get that perspective.”

Albin said she hopes that will boost her mentality as she starts her senior year of college.

“I know I’m going to be exposed to individuals that are really talented and I think that’s really going to motivate me going into my senior year,” Albin said.

- Ally Phillips, College of Journalism and Mass Communications