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Charleston Southern University > CSU News > Finding Passion and Peace at the Piano

Finding Passion and Peace at the Piano

University Relations // 03.28.2017

Brianna Jaeger

Throughout her high school years, Brianna Jaeger’s mom was sick.  As the hospital bills mounted, Jaeger helped her dad provide care, cook the meals and clean the house while she still completed her school work. 

Jaeger accepted Christ at the age of 17, and watched her mother die two weeks before she started college. As her world fell apart, she felt abandoned and incapable of answering any questions that dealt with why God allowed certain things to happen.

A decision to enter CSU in pursuit of studying piano performance changed her life’s direction and purpose.  Still, though, there was that feeling of being alone.

“I was still devastated by my mom’s death upon entering college, I didn’t know anybody,” recalls Jaeger. Something else happened, though, that took her by surprise.  “God used my professors to speak to me.  Even those who didn’t know what I was going through.”

It was after a music history class that she confided in Professor Jill Lewis. “She immediately stopped and prayed with me.” Jaeger began to feel that her professors, by listening and praying with her, were pulling her back to the gospel.

Lewis remembers those days vividly, “We talked and prayed together on many occasions, being at CSU allowed us to connect not just academically but also to look for help from a Christian perspective.”

Those fears of being isolated, imperfect and abandoned no longer overwhelmed Jaeger’s day-to-day life as a student. Her passion for playing the piano was renewed, and she desired to convey God’s love through those 88 black and white keys.

In Jaeger’s mind, she wanted her interpretation of classical music to be used as a vehicle to share the gospel. It’s not every day Handel, Mozart, Beethoven and Bach are connected to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Now, a junior, the North Charleston native likens performance to prayer. She puts her heart into the music and frequently people will admit they were moved upon listening to her play.

“I just want what I do to glorify God,” explains Jaeger. In that very same music history class where she bared her soul to Professor Lewis, she now tutors younger students. Lewis believes, “A large part of her success, I feel, is her humility and willingness to be vulnerable and submit herself to God’s grace.”

Jaeger also credits other Horton School of Music instructors, Dr. Jennifer Luiken and Dr. Bradley Parker, for two valuable character lessons. “They sometimes encouraged me and sometimes gave me a kick in the butt,” she matter-of-factly states.  She readily admits, at times, both teaching methods were effective.

That’s the type of professorial parenting that might just make Jaeger’s mother smile, from above, every time her daughter takes a seat on that piano bench.


Founded in 1964, Charleston Southern University is a private, four-year liberal arts college. CSU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and is affiliated with the South Carolina Baptist Convention. The university's vision is to be a Christian university nationally recognized for integrating faith in learning, leading and serving.