Student Highlight – Four Musicians from Brazil
The J. T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual and Performing Arts at Texas Tech is home to many international students who have come to study in the United States. Four Brazilians are currently pursuing their doctoral degrees in musical arts in the School of Music. Luis Fernando Rayo from Torres, Rio Grande do Sul, and Mauricio Starosta Neto from Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, are studying piano. Neemias Silva Santos from Salvador, Bahia, and Rodrigo Pessoa from Sao Jose do Rio Preto, Sao Paulo are studying cello. All credit their music professors at Texas Tech for providing the opportunity to study here. Neemias and Rodrigo both met Dr. Jeffrey Lastrapes, Associate Professor of Cello, when he was teaching a master cello class in Brazil. Luis connected with Dr. Lora Deahl, Professor of Piano and Keyboard Literature, through another Brazilian who was studying violin at Texas Tech. Mauricio learned about Tech's music program through Luis. Although they had opportunities to study music at other institutions, all agreed that the music professors at Tech are outstanding and pursuing their studies here was a wise decision.
What has been your favorite experience at Texas Tech?
Luis: "The opportunity for growth in my music is amazing here. At Tech, we have wonderful professors and we can practice on really good pianos. Studying here gives you the chance to grow as a person, but especially as a musician."
Neemias: "To be able to study cello with Dr. Lastrapes and composition with Dr. Peter Fischer has been a wonderful experience. I also work closely with Dr. Phillip Mann (Director of Orchestral Studies) through my job as the librarian for the university orchestra. They are awesome professors. Working with them and learning from them has been really amazing. "
Rodrigo: "I agree with Neemias. The professors here are excellent. My peers are nice as well. It is great to play with them and learn together. I brought my family here and it has been a great place for them as well. My three kids attend the most amazing elementary school ever. They are able to have cello lessons there for free. Life is easier here than in Brazil. Everything is cheaper and easier to get. The quality of life is much better. "
Mauricio: "I agree with Luis. I enjoy being able to practice on a nice piano. You can practice on a small grand piano every day and we get to perform in the Hemmle Recital Hall almost every week. I also enjoy being around the other international students. We have people from all over the world studying piano here – Asians and Europeans. Also, the people in Lubbock are very welcoming and very polite. "
When asked about the challenges of coming to study at Texas Tech, they agreed that being so far from their families is the most difficult. Luis has 20-month-old son in Brazil and Neemias has a wife and two daughters, eight and ten years old, in Brazil. Neemais' wife, also a musician, is pursuing a master's degree in Brazil. Mauricio stated that “it is lonely when you first arrive here, but you soon make friends and adjust”. Transportation is also a challenge. It is difficult to get around Lubbock without a car. For Rodrigo, his challenges include his family adjusting to life in Lubbock and “paying the bills”.
What advice would you give to other international students who want to study here?
Luis: "It is good to have a car. I love to ride my bike, but it is difficult if you need to go grocery shopping or get to a music store. The city is very spread out. "
Neemias: "Be prepared, save money and learn as much English as possible."
Rodrigo: "Have good health habits so you can stay out of the hospital. Eat healthy food, drink lots of water, exercise and be calm. "
Mauricio: "Learn as much English as you can and know that the English that people speak here is very different than what you learn to pass your TOEFL test. Be patient with other cultures. The cultures of the other international students here are very different than the culture of Brazil."
After graduation, all four plan to pursue job opportunities in Brazil and the United States. Their experiences here at Texas Tech have prepared them well for successful careers as teachers and musicians anywhere in the world.