Christina Pil made her first announcement introducing a choral concert series a little less than two years ago during the spring term of her sophomore year. Since nervously encouraging her peers to come to the concerts because “classical music is good for your brain and so good for studying,” Pil has lead her peers as the face of the choral concerts.
While she is known here for her prowess as a cellist, her musical career actually began with piano lessons. But that did not exactly work out, as Pil jokingly remembers, “I always ended up asleep by the end of a lesson,” she said. She tried playing the cello for the first time during her sixth-grade year at her public school in New York City.
When she first began her career as a cellist, her teachers were skeptical about her ability to play the instrument because of her petite size. As many here know, Pil “has very small hands,” in her own words. But that did not stop Pil. She simply found a pragmatic solution in a small cello called a “Ladies’ seven-eighths.”
Pil’s cellist career really took off during her eighth-grade year after she met a small eighty-year-old man who became her teacher. “He got me serious. If I did not make enough progress during our after-school lessons, we practiced an additional five hours on Saturday.”
Despite shoulder pains and calluses, Pil auditioned for a spot at the Manhattan School of Music where she practiced every weekend from nine to five during her freshman year. When she was accepted to Deerfield, Pil had to make the difficult decision to leave MSM in pursuit of new opportunities here, such as participating in the founding of Deerfield’s student orchestra.
Pil insists the key to learning a musical piece is repetition: “When I was younger, my mom would burn any piece I had to learn onto a CD and then play it on repeat in the car.” Pil maintains a similar technique in her study of music today, listening to every new piece many times before even attempting to play a note.
Beyond being a part of the program from the start, Pil loves Deerfield’s student-led practices: “We run our own practices and decide how many times to play each piece,” she said.
Pil believes the program has developed quickly and she has been able to grow over her time here because “Mr. Warsaw pushes for faster, better improvement by the deadline of each concert.”
You can hear Pil play along with her fellow cellists, violinists, and viola players during choral concerts held each term two nights in a row.