When Susan DeKam decides it is time for music practice, her first challenge is choosing which instrument to start with.

While many students focus years on mastering one instrument, DeKam is excelling at two, something audience members at the March 4 Hope College Showcase will get to experience.

DeKam, a senior from Caledonia, has been studying the piano since she was seven years old, and during her first year at Hope she began studying the organ as well.

"Sometimes it's scary to just 'plunge' into a new instrument like the organ and start performing and competing with those who are more experienced," DeKam said. "But so far, the challenge has been quite exhilarating."

The challenge has also provided a lasting interest. She now plans on continuing her studies in both piano and organ at the graduate school level.

Her success has been established in competitions as well. Having won at the state and regional level, she will soon compete in the national finals for organ at the Music Teachers National Association competition, held in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Saturday-Wednesday, March 16-20.

DeKam has a full schedule to deal with. Not only does she have her music classes, core classes, ensembles and accompanying work, but she also serves as a part-time church organist.

Currently, she is also traveling to audition at different schools for her graduate work. She also has plans to tour Romania in June.

DeKam appreciates the range of experiences that Hope has made possible.

"There are so many opportunities here to perform that I don?t think I would get at a larger university," she said. "Hope College has been nothing but a blessing to me."

She also credits Hope's music professors with helping her to grow musically.

"My fingers have always been able to move, but it wasn't until I came to Hope to study with Joan Conway that I started to learn how to create music," DeKam said.

Now, she is studying the piano with Mansoon Han and the organ with Huw Lewis.

"Dr. Lewis has been a great influence on me," she said. "He teaches me so much without even really saying a word. I learn just by watching him play and move."

And the faculty sees the amazing talent DeKam possesses.

"She is extraordinarily talented, extraordinarily hard working, and focused," Lewis said.

DeKam is performing in two pieces during the 14th annual Hope College Musical Showcase, which will be held on Monday, March 4, at 8 p.m. in DeVos Hall in Grand Rapids.

First is a trio including violinist Titus Munteanu, cellist Nicholas Toben and DeKam with the piano. The piece is a selection from Felix Mendelssohn's "Allegro energico e fuoco" from "Piano Trio No. 2 in C minor."

The second will feature DeKam as organist with the college's orchestra. The work is the "Maestoso-Allegro" from "Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78," known as the "Organ Symphony" by Camille Saint-Saens.

Tickets for Musical Showcase are available through the Office of Public Relations at Hope College for $10. The office, open from 8 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, is located on the second floor of the DeWitt Center and can be called at (616) 395-7860.

Tickets may also be purchased over the counter at the Grand Center Ticket Office, which is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. In addition, tickets may be ordered by phone through Ticketmaster by calling (616) 456- 3333. A service fee is added to the cost of each ticket purchased this way.