Lee Treml, a senior and music education major at UNC-Chapel Hill, spends 35 hours a week working as a teacher’s assistant in the piano lab at Durham School of the Arts (DSA). As an alumnus of the high school, Lee was recognized from four years ago by one of his current students.
“He was always the quiet kid who was really good at piano,” DSA junior Jeremiah “Legacy” Griffin said, a 7th-grader at the time. “I was like ‘Wow, one day I will be as good as him.’”
It was during his freshman year at DSA that Lee was first introduced to the organ by his own piano teacher Fred Mason.
“A lot of what I already knew for the piano overlapped with the organ,” Treml said. By his senior year of high school, Lee was an active substitute for organists in the area.
He eventually landed a permanent position at St. Titus Episcopal Church, where he now plays every Sunday morning, arriving early to warm up the choir.
Brenda Armstrong, the Senior Associate Dean for Student Diversity, Recruitment, and Retention at Duke University, was the organist who volunteered before Lee was hired.
“I’ve gone to this church long enough and been through enough musicians,” Armstrong said. “They tend to be fairly arrogant. But he is just the opposite. Humble. Creative. He enjoys, I think, this kind of intimate setting.”
On Saturday evenings, Lee drives with his mom, Susan Treml, to the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Durham, their home parish. He plays the organ while she sings along in the choir.
“Lee never had private [piano] lessons, he just started to play in middle school” Mrs. Treml said. “When he told me Mr. Mason offered to teach him the organ I said ‘You’re kidding,’ and he said ‘Yeah it’s free! You just have to buy me organ shoes.’”
Lee would like to be a full-time minister at a Catholic parish, and is in the process of applying to graduate school to get a Masters of Sacred Music (MSM).
“I just prayed about it a lot, and eventually I felt like God was calling me to be a music minister,” Lee said. “That’s what I was really desiring to do, and I feel like God wouldn’t give you a desire to to something unless you really wanted to do it.”
Shorter-term, Lee and his mom will be visiting Vatican City over spring break, which for Lee falls on the same schedule as DSA.