FYI Magazine

‘It’s Payback’

While pursuing a passion for piano, alumna Lori Julian turned her music courses into a degree and a career in teaching and music service.

Music has always been very important to me, but Elmhurst helped me make it a central part of my life. I took piano lessons briefly as a child. Twenty-five years later, I decided to try again. I found a local teacher who encouraged me to supplement my lessons with music courses at Elmhurst College. Everyone there was so welcoming and encouraging, I wound up not just taking courses but earning a degree and becoming a piano teacher. 

Through teaching I met people involved with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, where I have volunteered for 20 years. I’m currently a trustee of the CSO Association and serve on the board of the Symphony’s Institute for Learning, Access and Training. I also serve on the board of the Chicago Chamber Music Society and support arts organizations like Pianoforte and Cedille Records.

I think it’s easy for aspiring musicians to think, if you’re not playing at Carnegie Hall, what’s the point? But the music department at Elmhurst College has made an art of helping students with a talent and passion for music see all of their possibilities and build rewarding, viable careers. That’s why I support the music program at Elmhurst—it’s payback. I know there are other people out there like me, and I hope they have the same happy result.

Lori Julian earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Illinois, Champaign, in 1968 and a BA in piano pedagogy from Elmhurst College in 1988. Her gifts to the College have funded music scholarships, the purchase of a new concert piano, and recent renovations to Buik Hall.

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