Mercer Artist: triple threat instrumentalist Steve Hussung

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Patrick Hobbs / Cluster Staff

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Patrick Hobbs / Cluster Staff
Patrick Hobbs / Cluster Staff

Steve Hussung is a senior at Mercer University pursuing a double major in Computational Science and Math. Although his choice in majors does not reflect his passion for music, Hussung is a diverse artist, proficient at the piano, the bass guitar and the mandolin. His first instrument was the piano, after being influenced by his father, a piano professor at Carson Newman University. Hussung began his classical piano lessons at the age of six and has been playing for 15 years. He is self-taught on both the bass guitar and the mandolin.

“I learned bass because I wanted to play with other people,” Hussung said. He also admits that he wanted to learn an instrument that was “cooler” than piano. He has since outgrown that opinion of piano playing. He was inspired to learn mandolin after listening to bands like The Punch Brothers and Nickel Creek. Both bands incorporate the mandolin into their music. “And it is just a really pretty instrument,” said Hussung.

Hussung has been part of various musical ensembles at Mercer, including playing bass for RUF, Wesley Foundation and the Mercer Jazz Ensemble. He also took piano lessons with Dr. Ian Altman through the Townsend School of Music. He admits that during his sophomore year, his musical involvement on campus suffered due to increased class load. He has, however, continued his involvement with the Wesley Foundation praise band.

Hussung explained that being self-taught on both the bass guitar and mandolin is difficult at times. “I had the benefit of being classically trained on piano,” he said, “so I already had the knowledge of music theory and respect for proper technique.” Hussung admits that taking lessons can be better for learning an instrument, such as piano or guitar. It is, however, completely possible to learn online, though it does require adequate research to learn to play the instrument properly. He recommends reading “The Music Lesson” by Victor Wooten to anyone looking to teach themselves to play an instrument.

His favorite genres of music include motown music, which influenced his proficiency in bass guitar, and progressive bluegrass. Hussung defines progressive bluegrass as “bluegrass music that has moved in any direction from the tradition.” Bands such as The Punch Brothers, Crooked Still or Trampled by Turtles are included in the progressive bluegrass genre. He explained, however, that because people grow up listening to “their parents music,” he had only listened to classical and christian music until high school. He had to branch out and familiarize himself with different music because “most contemporary church music doesn’t have a very good bass line.” He then began his musical journey with Led Zeppelin and motown music. His current favorite music to play is Mumford & Sons on his mandolin.

“After college, music will probably remain a hobby for me,” said Hussung. “I love playing with people. And I’d love to keep getting better.” Hussung admits that, despite his current career path, if the opportunity arose for a career in music he would definitely take it.