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ECU professor recognized nationally for teaching career

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 6:20 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - With only 88 black and white keys, Dr. Keiko Sekino is able to change a student’s entire concept of classical piano performance.

“Just a few minutes ago, she said I was playing a little bit too loud and that never would have happened two years ago,” said ECU student Sheleise Melendez. “I was so quiet and just really tense.”

Sekino’s work with students at East Carolina University began 15 years ago. Her ability to touch hearts inside of the classroom and on the stage caught the eye of regional Steinway piano dealer Paul Hopper of Hopper Piano Company in Raleigh.

It is precisely why he chose her to nominate for the Steinway and Sons Teacher Hall of Fame.

“Keiko is, she is absolutely a top-tier educator,” Hopper said. “She’s a top-tier pianist. And although it can be difficult to choose the right one, we are confident that she was the right one.”

Whether she is playing alongside her student or alone, Sekino strives to bring new meaning to the music she performs.

“This intersection of music and people is really what interests me the most and that means even if we are playing music that was written hundreds of years ago, when we’re playing it, it has to come to life on that day in that time.”

Dr. Keiko Sekino

Earlier in October, she received an email from Hopper.

Thus began an incredible journey for the piano professor, which included a trip to New York City to accept her award and tour the Steinway factory.

“It was such an amazing experience to be able to join all these other amazing teachers across the country and also to be recognized in this region for the work that we get to do at the School of Music here at ECU,” said Sekino.

Her impact on students is clear to see.

“She’s definitely opened me up to just a whole new world of music. She’s awesome!” said Melendez.

Sekino is an honored educator, but she comes with her own list of impressive accolades.

She received her Doctor of Musical Arts from Johns Hopkins University and additional degrees in economics and arts from Yale University.

“Music education has been a cornerstone of our historic company since the late 1800s, and today is no different,” said Gavin English, president of Steinway & Sons Americas.

“These teachers foster passion, creativity, and discipline in the next generation of piano artists. Their work deserves the highest praise.”

Gavin English, president of Steinway & Sons Americas

Sekino’s name joins 44 other educators in a commemorative wall display inside of the Steinway factory.

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