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Mineo Yasutake
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

​Mineo Yasutake

Graduation year: 2016

Major: Music education (instrumental) and music performance (cello)

Minor: Music composition

Activities: Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of Music, National Association for Music Educators, Symphony Orchestra and Augustana Choir

Internship: I was a student teacher in the Davenport School District (North, Fillmore, Wood Intermediate, Harrison, and Truman).

Post-grad plans: Find a job teaching strings at any level!

Why Augustana?

Honestly, it was a backup school. I had never visited except with my high school during my freshman year. I didn’t get into the programs I wanted and was looking for a school, and I remembered Augustana. I applied, came down and auditioned for the string faculty, got in and came. I was sort of the black cat of the music department because usually the students who come to Augustana are very involved in visits, and I was not. I came once and decided to come here. I am really glad that I did!

Are you where you thought you'd be four years ago?

Not quite. I thought I would be at a Big 10 school studying music. I am studying music, obviously, but at a very different school environment. It is much more intimate here.

Who helped you?

Some of the biggest helpers were my music professors and teachers. In high school, I took lessons from a great teacher, Walter Preucil, and he helped me get ready for college, musically. Also, my high school director, Tom Bowling, helped me realize my potential and made me fall in love with music. My parents and family were also great supporters of me and my craft. Always making sure I was able to take lessons and learn was quite the financial burden, but I know that it paid off, and they love to see where I am today.

Lastly, my cello professor and music teacher, Janina Ehrlich. She was a really big advocate for me and my playing and teaching. She always gave me great advice, guidance and wisdom. She made sure I was focused on my goals, and gave me all the tools to succeed. Without her, I wouldn’t be the musician, player and teacher that I am today and who I will be in the future.

A peak experience?

I can't think of a peak experience. For me, the most fun and most engaged I have been while here have been the opportunities I have had to make, teach and be involved in music. If I had to choose one or two moments though, they would have to be the time spent abroad. I went to Paris during the summer of 2014 to study music and ex-patriot literature, and that was an incredible experience. It gave me a look at multiple disciplines within the liberal arts, and opened my eyes. I also went to Sweden, Germany and Denmark during the summer of 2015 with the Augustana Choir. I got to perform and experience different parts of European culture.

What has surprised you?

I learned that I have trouble deciding on things to do. I am so interested in so many things, and at Augustana, you can definitely explore those interests. I was able to find out exactly what I like and don’t like, and I was able to hone in on my interests. It also taught me time management. Being so involved required me to make sure I am on top of everything to be able to be successful.

How did you use your Augie Choice?

I used my Augie Choice to study in Paris for five weeks. I studied music and ex-patriot literature. With this, I was able to study the literature of Fitzgerald and Hemingway in the places they ate, slept and wrote. I also experienced the city authentically. We stayed in individual apartments with full amenities, so we cooked and explored the city just as if we were living there. By the end, I felt that I was more confident in traversing Paris than Chicago (despite my non-existent French skills).

What will you miss the most?

I will miss the sense of community that I have built here. I have so many friends and acquaintances that I can do work with and hang out with and exchange ideas with. Once I get out into the world with a job, that network will decrease drastically. I will miss that.

Advice for the Class of 2020?

Make sure you experience what you hope to in college. I explored and experienced many different things, and I’m glad that I did. Once you leave this place, you will not get a chance to do those again. Make memories, have fun and expand your horizons.

“Mineo is a person of enormous talent, with outstanding leadership and teamwork skills, a curious intellect and a charming personality. Since Day One, he has shown the hard work and self-discipline needed to fulfill his potential. Any challenges presented to him have been met with the excitement and curiosity demonstrated by the best students.

At the SBC Music Academy, Mineo’s contributions have been enormous. Not only is he completely reliable, but also a caring, thoughtful teacher to his students, a helping hand when needed, and an exemplary role model for all of the students at the academy, always with a cheerful smile and greeting. Knowing and working with Mineo has been one of the highlights of my 35-plus year career at Augustana College.”

— Dr. Janina Ehrlich, professor, music