Soojin Lee is trying to teach me the proper pronunciation of gayageum, the Korean musical instrument we have met to talk about.
Soojin is an expert on the zither-like gayageum, which she studied at the National University in her native city of Seoul, South Korea.
"I started playing the instrument when I was in middle school," she says. "Then I went to the specialist traditional music high school, which is fully supported by the Korean government because it wants to keep traditional music going."
Soojin eventually began teaching the gayageum at the school. She might well have remained there had her husband not been offered a job eight years ago at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Coming to the United States did not quash Soojin's musical curiosity. She signed up for a doctorate in music education at the University of Minnesota, before beginning a teaching post at the MacPhail Center in Minneapolis in October 2017.
By no means are all of Soojin's pupils from the local Korean community.
"I have an American who really likes K-pop," she says, "and another who taught English in Korea, and wants to learn more about Korean culture."
Soojin will shortly be expanding her gayageum outreach at MacPhail to a younger demographic, when she hosts a summer camp in June for kids 10 to 18.
"When I started at MacPhail, my pupils were all adults, and I wanted to see more young students taking lessons, and a group of people who are all beginners," she says.
Making classes happen isn't necessarily easy, as finding enough gayageums to teach them can be a tricky proposition. Soojin manages by lending her own instruments to pupils for group lessons, and borrowing others from her adult students.
Buying a gayageum is surprisingly easy for those who wish to take the instrument further. Manufacturers in South Korea export regularly to the United States, Soojin says, and decent instruments start at about $600.
Soojin's MacPhail summer camp also will feature a class in Korean drumming, an indispensable skill for Korean traditional musicians.
"The drum usually accompanies the gayageum," Soojin explains. "It's a two-sided instrument. You beat the left side with your hand and hit the other side with a stick. It's a basic instrument in Korean folk music."
The gayageum is an instrument of ancient lineage, dating back approximately 1,500 years to the 6th century. Much of the music played on it also comes from a long way back in Korean musical history.
"There are different kinds of Korean traditional music," Soojin says. "We have 'noble class' music we call court music, and that is usually slow and meditative in nature. And then we have folk music, which is often livelier and expresses personal feelings. And we use different types of gayageum for different types of music."
Soojin has three gayageums in her collection, not least because in recent years the instrument itself has been changing.
"When Korea modernized in the 1950s and 1960s, Western musical culture came into the country," she says. "Many Koreans are passionate about learning Western classical music, because it is a symbol of social standing."
There was a downside to this outside influence, however, as the huge expansion of interest in Western music began marginalizing Korea's indigenous musical culture.
"Even in Korea it's very rare to see Korean traditional musicians," Soojin says.
But in recent years traditional musicians in Korea, and gayageum players in particular, have been fighting back.
The five-tone scale on which Korean traditional music is based has been expanded to enable the more "advanced" harmonies of Western musical styles to be incorporated.
Bigger gayageums also have been developed, more than doubling the 12 strings available on the original historical instrument.
The evolution of the gayageum in recent years has created another new phenomenon music for the instrument written out on manuscript paper by particular composers, in contrast to the anonymously authored tunes passed down by ear through successive generations of gayageum players.
"Korean folk music used to be improvised, and before the Western influence came there was no concept of 'composition' as such," Soojin says. "Now, we have composers for traditional instruments writing their music out in staff notation."
Outside of her teaching at MacPhail, Soojin plays many concerts for the broader Minnesota community, and has noticed how the traditional melodies of her native country retain their power to touch listeners emotionally.
"I've met many Korean people who tell me it is the first time that they've watched a live performance with a gayageum, and they love it," she says.
"Korean traditional music is a symbol of their past. One time I played in a Minnesota nursing home for elderly Korean people, and several of the grandmothers cried. We had some very hard times with colonization and the Korean War, and that's what they think about when they hear this music."