Learn more about the second annual Viola Rodeo at the TTU School of Music that took place on November 17 and 18, 2018!
Viola students at the Texas Tech University School of Music experienced their second annual Viola Rodeo on November 17 and 18, 2018. Dr. Kimberly Sparr, assistant professor of viola at Texas Tech, designed and ran the event. Guest artist Molly Sharp, principal violist of the Richmond Symphony in Richmond, Virginia and professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, attended the festival, working with students and performing. Sparr and Sharp first met while sitting as stand partners in the Richmond Symphony and were thrilled to join forces to work with students at the festival.
The Viola Rodeo featured masterclasses and a recital by both Sparr and Sharp, a student recital, Yoga classes with flutist Claire Howard (www.practiceroomyoga.net), a stretching workshop led by Sharp, and a "play-in" at which students gathered to sight-read various works.
Gil Jarvis, a senior viola performance student, noted that his favorite part of the rodeo was the student recital. "All the work pays off," said Jarvis, mentioning the playful atmosphere of the recital and the fact that it is "hard work but less strenuous." He praised Sharp's teaching, saying she focuses on "how to personalize your own way of practicing" and how "to prepare to play correctly." His main takeaway from the weekend was an "understanding of the level of musicianship that can be reached."
Israel Mello, a master's viola performance student, discussed the benefits of participating in a weekend that was focused on the increased availability of faculty and colleagues. His lasting impression was of the environment of the festival, which he described as both relaxed and informative. He said that hearing from Sharp "helps us set the standard for the high level of viola playing." He learned "the importance of how to be efficient with [his] instrument" and that "as musicians we are athletes"; in other words, the physicality of playing an instrument is crucial to dissect and remember.
More information about the annual Viola Rodeo can be found at http://ttuviolarodeo.weebly.com.