Stephanie Jeong has come a long way since she first took up the violin with teacher Betty Haag.
“It was always a part of my daily life. Even if it was just for 15 minutes every single day, she made sure it was daily,” said 30-year-old Jeong, who started lessons at the age of 3.
Haag founded and still runs the Betty Haag Academy of Music in the Chicago area. Haag noticed the raw talent in Jeong, and challenged the then 9-year-old with concertos, Paganini caprices, Bach and Mozart.
One of Jeong’s standout memories with her teacher was a trip to Beijing. They were late for a performance and Haag “got my violin out and told me to start warming up on the moving bus and I remember thinking, ‘Oh my gosh,’” Jeong recalled.
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At the age of 12, Jeong made her solo debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Philadelphia Orchestra.
“When you study music you learn so many skills, you learn to dedicate yourself to something,” Jeong said. “That really made me realize what a major impact Mrs. Haag had on my life.”
Jeong received her master’s degree at the Juilliard School in New York City. She is now the associate concertmaster for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
“I knew that this would happen to this child from the very beginning,” said Haag. “Everyone tells me she’s amazing as a concertmaster and I believe she’s gonna be a great soloist someday also.”