Ayako Pederson-Takeda (b. 2000, she/her) is a composer-cellist-educator based in Athens, GA. She recently graduated with a Bachelor’s of Music in Music Education and a Bachelor’s of Music in Music Composition (First Honor Graduate, summa cum laude) at the University of Georgia’s Hugh Hodgson School of Music.

As a composer...

Ayako writes music that is colorful and unpredictable, taking the listener on a musical adventure. She enjoys exploring ideas of identity, community, and stories from her life. Her music is often harmonically based on the pentatonic scale, and she enjoys writing singable melodies. Ayako has recently been expanding her harmonic palette to explore microtonality to create a blend of modal and microtonal harmonies. Ayako enjoys using uneven rhythms and hemiola in her music to create a stable-but-unstable groove.

Ayako's music has been performed and been commissioned by numerous musicians. Ayako won the 2020-2021 UGA Large Ensemble Composer-in-Residence with the Hodgson Wind Ensemble with a full premiere of her work dear diary... in 2022. Other groups Ayako has collaborated with include Bent Frequency (Charlotte New Music Festival, 2021); SpacePants (UGA Guest Artist Residency, 2022) the Flute Intensive of North Georgia (commissioned by Nicole Frankel, 2022); Transient Canvas (UGA Guest Artist Residency, 2022); the Athens Hip Hop Harmonic (in collaboration with spoken word artist Celest Ngeve); and most currently Honk and Bonk, comprised of bassoonist Cassandra Roaché and percussionist Bryan Wysocki.

Ayako has been commissioned by saxophonists Julien Berger, Michael Matthews, and Dr. Stephen Fischer; bassoonist Emily Prochaska; baritone Ryan Eck; and pianist Zaira Castillo, among others. Ayako enjoys working collaboratively with performers to create a piece that is unique to the performer and welcomes commissions at this time.

As a cellist...

Ayako has been an active member of many UGA ensembles such as the UGA Symphony Orchestra, where she has served as co-principal cellist. She has also performed in the UGA Opera Orchestra, British String Orchestra, and Contemporary Chamber Ensemble. She has accompanied other ensembles such as the Repertory Singers and the University Chorus.

She is passionate about performing music with nonstandard instrumentations, which led to her form the Avante Quartet (violin, cello, flute, saxophone) and Embolden (horn, cello, piano/voice). She is also passionate about performing student compositions, and she frequently premiered new compositions by UGA composers. Ayako studied cello under Dr. David Starkweather.

As an educator...

Ayako worked as a Student Teacher at the UGA String Project for four years. In String Project, she worked with 3rd-5th graders in Clarke County and taught group music lessons covering all of the stringed instruments. She designed lessons exploring general music concepts as well as string-specific lessons. In the 2020-2021 academic year, Ayako taught her String Project classes completely over Zoom and worked with beginning students in both the fall and spring semesters.

Ayako completed her student teaching in the fall of 2022. She worked in the general music elementary classroom, where she taught musical concepts ranging from rhythm, notation, singing, handheld percussion instruments, folk dances, Orff instruments, and ukulele. Ayako holds a Georgia Teaching Certificate for PK-12 music from the Georgia Professional Standards Commission.

Ayako currently works as the Cello Instructor at Oxford College of Emory University. She works with first and second year non-music major cellists to continue developing technical and musical skills. Ayako also runs her own private studio, teaching cello and violin lessons in-person and online.

Ayako’s teaching philosophy is based in the belief that all people, regardless of age, background, etc., need and deserve to study music. All students are experienced consumers of music before stepping into the classroom or a lesson, and these musical experiences should be considered and celebrated in the music curriculum. Students can analyze these familiar experiences and take away new knowledge or skills, but students also need additional, different, and supplemental experiences with music in the classroom. This can occur through studying musics of the community and of the world, creating their own musical works, and forming musical collaborations through community connections.

As an advocate...

Ayako is interested in equity in music and explored this interest in the Hugh Hodgson School of Music’s Actionable Anti-Racism and Inclusion Committee. This is a student-led group that works to listen, amplify, and facilitate dialogue, activities, and events surrounding issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. To learn more about AARI, visit this website: https://hhsomaari.wixsite.com/aari.

Ayako has specifically been a project lead for AARI’s MusicBox, a social media series that highlights student or school performances of musics by underrepresented artists/genres. Ayako was also a project lead for outreach efforts, working to explore conference presentations and collaborating with similar groups at other schools of music.