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WVU School of Music offers instrument specialty days throughout fall

Group of String Students

The West Virginia University School of Music will this fall offer a series of specialized learning days for students of all ages interested in learning about a particular instrument.

Viola, Trombone, Cello and Saxophone days are on the agenda in September and October. According to School of Music Director Michael Ibrahim, the days are a way to expand the music community and offer opportunities available at WVU to a larger community.

“These specialty days are a real opportunity for anyone interested in taking a deeper dive into a particular instrument,” Ibrahim said. “Students of all ages learning music in a school system often have one music teacher who covers all of the instruments in their band or orchestra. At the School of Music, we have an entire team of esteemed faculty who specialize in their particular instrument. We have the ability to go a bit deeper into the art and how the instruments can be played."

The learning days, which take place at WVU’s Creative Arts Center, also give participants a glimpse into the curriculum and atmosphere they will find if they hope to attend WVU in the future. 

“There is no better alternative for a student considering studying music to coming and spending a day with us in Morgantown,” Ibrahim said. “Participants will get to know our faculty, learn from them and see what a day in the life is like as a WVU student. They will also hear from guest artists and speakers that are part of our community.”

Viola Day – Sept. 15

Arranged by Assistant Professor of Viola Andrea Houde, Viola Day draws in participants from eight states because of its unique and extensive agenda that includes guest artists, viola yoga, master classes, viola ensemble reading sessions and more. Vendors will also be on hand to help participants select the best viola products and to rehair and repair bows.

New to Viola Day this year is a body mapping session by William Johnston, principal viola of the Atlanta Opera. A special session for teachers will also be held by Molly Wilkens-Reed, violist and director of the Virginia Tech String Project.

“From high school students to professionals, all participants will find plenty to enjoy and to take away from WVU Viola Day,” Houde said. “If you love the viola, you don’t want to miss this event.”

Trombone Day – Sept. 23

The Trombone Day experience is designed for high school trombonists, but is open to anyone who wants to learn more about trombone with hands-on experience. This year’s guest artist is trombone Youtuber Christopher Bill. He has covered everyone from Maroon Five to Alicia Keys on his channel.

Trombone Day also includes a solo competition open to all high school student trombonists. The winner receives a gift card to Hickey’s Music Center. 

“Being able to participate in Trombone Day is a fun and educational musical treat,” said Brian Plitnik, director of trombone ensembles. “Participants can perform alongside members of the WVU trombone studio in a mass trombone choir with fellow student musicians which gives them a taste of what it is like to be a collegiate student musician.” 

Cello Day – Sept. 29

Cello Day is appropriate for students, amateurs and professionals of all ages that have been playing for at least one year or can read music. Led by Assistant Professor of Cello Erin Ellis, Cello Day will feature guest artist Meredith Blecha-Wells, associate professor of cello at Oklahoma State University. 

“Cello Day allows participants to make music and learn with others,” Ellis said. “Although private lessons are crucial to learning an instrument, larger workshops are an important way for students to immerse themselves in the cello community, similar to a language immersion program.” 

Participants will take part in a unique cello choir, attend faculty recitals and play in workshops to improve their technique.

“Cello Day is a fun, relaxed atmosphere that has something for everyone,” Ellis said. “Please join us to make some new cello friends and bring out your inner cello nerd!  We welcome all levels, so don't be intimidated.  We are all here to have fun making music and learning about the cello!” 

Saxophone Weekend – Oct. 19 -21

“The Saxophone Weekend is the one time per year when the saxophone is in the spotlight,” said Joel Diegert, visiting assistant professor of saxophone.

With three days of activities planned, Saxophone Weekend is the ultimate experience for saxophone lovers. Both classical and jazz saxophone will be featured during the weekend that includes masterclasses, workshops, individual lessons and concerts by guest artists Five Sax and Dick Oatts. 

“The general public will enjoy the two guest concerts and there is also a lot to offer saxophone students,” Diegert said. “Students who are curious about studying the saxophone at WVU will also have the opportunity to learn about the saxophone community here at the university and hear the students perform. We are also coordinating this year with the Society of Composers, Inc. conference to dedicate an entire concert to new works written for the saxophone.”