Columbia College Chicago

Meet the Faculty

Janelle Lake

Suzuki Harp

Interested in learning more about the harp before studying harp with Ms. Lake? Check out our 'Top Ten Most Frequently Asked Questions About Studying Harp'!

Undergraduate:  B.M., Northwestern University, Harp Performance.

Postgraduate:  M.M., Northwestern University.

Hometown: New Berlin, Wisconsin.

Preferred student age:  Anyone who doesn't yawn during lessons (4-89).

Preferred student level: All.

How long have you been at Sherwood?  Since November 2008.

About Janelle:
Janelle is the author of a book teaching young children how to start on the harp as their first instrument, titled "Beginning Music on the Harp." She maintains a large teaching studio both at the University of Chicago and at home, and her love of the harp led her to organize the first annual "All Chicago Student Harp Recital" at the Lyon and Healy Harp Factory in 2008. Janelle was the featured soloist with the Northwest Festival Orchestra and the Northwest Suburban Orchestra in 2009 and her new music ensemble, Dal Niente, will be featuring her as a soloist in 2010. Janelle has also had the distinct honor of performing live for President Obama.

What do you want to impart to your students through your teaching?
I hope to promote confidence, individuality, self-discipline, responsibilty, the importance of kindness and good communication; but most of all, I hope to promote passion for music.

Are there specific methods or techniques that you use in your teaching that may be important to share with prospective students?
There's the joke: "How many harpists does it take to change a light bulb?  Five: One to change the light bulb and four people to tell him how to do it."  I realize that everyone's hands are different, and I've studied the Salzedo Method, the Grossi Method, the Suzuki Method, the Susan McDonald/Linda Wood Method, the French Method, and the Grandjany Method.  Out of all of those methods, I only insist on a method that is healthy and musical. 

What do you enjoy most about teaching?
The moments when a student notices how far he/she has progressed and feels accomplished.  And... The light bulb moments... and the times when students tell me what the music makes them think of... Oh there are too many!

Briefly describe your musical pursuits outside Sherwood.
I teach at the University of Chicago and in my home (25 more students).
I am the staff harpist at the Venus harp factory where I test the harps and match harpists with new harps. I also play regularly with the Southwest Symphony, the Elmhurst Symphony, the Lake Effect Flute and Harp Duet, Dal Niente New Music Ensemble, the DuPage Symphony, and the DePaul Chamber Orchestra. Next month, I am playing a run of the Fantasticks at the Promethean Theatre, and the opera "Fledermaus," downtown. Most of my freelance work is at fabulous parties, weddings, or tea parties at the Drake.

What is your earliest musical experience or best musical memory?
I had a Fischer Price record player on my bedside table and I would play records every waking (and sometimes sleeping) minute.

Please describe one of your favorite teachers or mentors.
Liz Cifani was my harp teacher at Northwestern University. As the harpist of the Lyric Opera for nearly forty years, Liz had amazing stories. In the five years that I studied with her, she would fuel my desire to do my best. On the rare occassion that I was burned out, she had a talent of saying "let's get lunch" and making everything better by dessert. Liz's laugh will make anyone happy.

Who is your favorite composer or what is your favorite musical period?
Ravel and Debussy tie as my favorite composers today, but the music that is coming out now, in the 21st century is my favorite. I love New Music! Michael Daugherty, Augusta Reed Thomas, Ada Gentile, and Jonathan Weinzweig all get me excited to practice.