Ever wonder what specific parts of NIU look like to the world? The TV show Gutto Chikyubin features stories that connect Japanese parents with children who live outside of Japan, and a recent episode features Yuko Asada, NIU Musical Instrument Technician, who, along with Liam Teague, is one of the directors of the NIU Steelband.
The show profiles Yuko and her work at NIU and includes footage of her parents, Ryoichi and Aiko Asada watching. The couple lives in Saitama, Japan, outside of Tokyo.
Yuko came to the United States when Ryoichi’s job brought him to Wheeling, West Virginia. Her parents returned to Japan when Yuko was 14, but she and her then 16 year old sister, Mariko, chose to stay with a host family and continue to live in the U.S.
After earning her undergraduate degree in piano pedagogy from West Virginia University, Yuko was in Trinidad when she saw a steelpan in a box with information that showed it had been built by Cliff Alexis at Northern Illinois University.
Her interest piqued, she did further investigation into the Steelband program at NIU, and has since earned her master’s in steelpan manufacturing. After starting by volunteering to help Alexis and Liam Teague with the NIU Steelband, Yuko began teaching the Community School of the Arts Steelband in 2012, and joined the School of Music staff in 2016.