Humans of CSUF: Student musicians share feelings on practice and art

In Features, Student Body
( Kyle Bender / Daily Titan )

Shirley Chikikwa spent her morning filling the air of the housing courtyard with the gentle notes of her alto recorder as her metronome ticked away in the background.

She was practicing using Renaissance-era instruments for her class’s ensemble performance at Collegium Musicum. Chikikwa began playing the recorder for one of her classes last semester.

“We have to pick up the instruments as soon as we get into the class,” Chikikwa said. “My friends picked up gamba and other interesting viols that are the ancestors to the modern day violin.”

The music education transfer student has been singing mezzo soprano for at least three years in vocal programs, so moving from vocal work to a woodwind instrument has proved an interesting transition, she said.

“As a vocalist, we have to learn to play piano,” Chikikwa said. “Picking up something that forces you to use fingering and air, it makes you think about breathing and phrasing differently.”

In addition to the technical benefits of learning an instrument from a different family, Chikikwa formed an appreciation for the simplicity of reading non-lyrical music.

“I prefer (sight reading music for recorder) to sight reading for voice,” Chikikwa said. “You really can read ahead and there’s no text (to think about). There’s nothing else.”

Chikikwa will be performing for Collegium Musicum April 26 with the rest of her class ensemble.

( Kyle Bender / Daily Titan )

Every Monday and Wednesday, freshman Masami Mao can be found on Titan Walk with an unassuming sign that reads “$2 spam masubi.”

Mao is a percussionist trying to raise money to compete in the prestigious Blue Devils drum corps program this summer. The Blue Devils were ranked second at last year’s Drum Corps International World Championship Finals, and she hopes to perform as their vibraphone player.

“I’ve been in drumline ever since middle school, and I’m still in one now,” Mao said.

Even after playing for seven years and practicing daily, Mao still finds immense joy in her art.

“From a performer’s aspect, being able to portray the show that’s written to the audience, being able to put my passion behind it,” Mao said. “Bringing a part of yourself and incorporating that with your music is really mind-blowing.”

Despite her lengthy history with percussion, this is Mao’s first year marching with a drum corps. Even with years of performances under her belt, Mao still holds practice in high regard.

“I love this activity and how much time you spend (on it),” Mao said. “I practice individually a lot because it’s really hard to drag around a marimba or a vibraphone. (I spend time) trying to rehearse technique because it’s really foundational.”

She said practice pays off after every performance when she sees her friends and family.

“I can’t see myself perform,” Mao said. “But once you hear other people or you see videos, it’s like, ‘Wow, that’s pretty cool.’”

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