Natalie Lugo grew up in a musical environment.
“From a very young age, my siblings and I were surrounded by the music of the masters. I began to take Suzuki violin lessons at the Academy of Strings in Johnson City at the age of 6. Music quickly became a very important part of our family’s lifestyle. When I was 10, I was delighted to start taking cello lessons. The cello soon became my primary instrument. Additionally, I joined the East Tennessee Children’s Choir.
“I believe that the immersion in music from a young age and the support I received from my teachers and parents were the most important aspects of my success and continued interest in music,” she says.
In high school, she decided to devote her life to teaching music to children. Her dream is to direct a regional children’s choir and teach Suzuki cello. She is well on her way to achieving that dream.
“I now am the student intern with the Mountain Empire Children’s Choral Academy. I also run a Suzuki cello studio based in Jonesborough, Tennessee. I love to teach children of all ages. I deeply care about each one of my students and desire to enrich their lives through music. I view each child that comes into my studio as a child with great potential and ability. My goal is to guide my students in becoming fine musicians, but first and foremost, fine people,” Natalie says.
She is working on a bachelor’s degree in vocal music education at East Tennessee State University and hopes to get a job with a choir and expand her cello studio after graduation.
“Every culture has used music as a form of expression – to communicate ideas, express emotions, to celebrate, to mourn, to worship, to entertain. Music connects the human spirit across language barriers, across time and across the globe.
“I find each step of the journey of music education very exciting – from helping the student hold the cello for the first time, to the first successful ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,’ to performing the Haydn Cello Concerto. I love to see their faces light up as they master a challenging skill. I love seeing their smiles when they enter the choir rehearsal room, eager to sing with their friends. I love to hear their laughter as they find joy in music,” Natalie says.
Natalie’s musical joy is expressed through the ETSU Chorale and as the principal cellist of the ETSU chamber orchestra. She also performs with Tensegrity, a string quartet, comprised of her and her three brothers.
She sang with MECCA until she graduated from high school and stays involved as an intern. She was also instrumental in helping MECCA stay in touch during the coronavirus restrictions.
“When I graduated from high school last May, which marked the end of my years as a student in MECCA, I never thought that I would be editing virtual choir videos this year in order to help the choirs sing together again.
“Each singer sent me their videos, and I spent hundreds of hours editing audio and video, aligning tracks, balancing voices, etc. The moment I will never forget is when we showed the singers the preview of the finished product during a virtual Zoom meeting. It meant so much to all of them, and to me, to see them singing together again.
“My cello studio has also switched to a virtual format. Video lessons present challenges, but my students and their parents have put forward such an admirable effort. I continue to be amazed by the progress that each student has made over the past few months. I definitely miss seeing my students in person and look forward to the day when it is safe to return to lessons in my studio. Until then, we shall continue to make music,” she says.
Natalie is the daughter of Ralph and Dawn Lugo of Jonesborough, Tennessee. When she isn’t creating music, she enjoys hiking and reading and owns a jewelry business selling her handmade earrings and necklaces.
For more information, visit https://natalielugocello.weebly.com.