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Senior music majors prepare for recitals

April 7, 2011

Music students at UW-River Falls are required to perform a recital during their senior year, and begin preparing for them at the start of their freshman year.

“Senior recitals are usually the capstone experience for music students, they are representing their solo work,” said Music Department Chair David Milne. “They have been working for four to five years preparing their solo work. Over the course of their study they select individual pieces that they feel are representative and that are also challenging to them.”

John Kleppe has played the trumpet since fourth grade. He is required to play in his recital on April 10 in order to graduate.

“For the recital I am required to have thirty minutes of music.  I have to have at least one ensemble piece and the rest is solo literature,” Kleppe said.  “Before I can perform I have to pass a pre-recital, in that I have to play the entire recital for three music faculty and they decide whether I pass or fail.  If I pass I can give the recital. I also need to write a program and get it printed, and I have to advertise for the recital.”

Matt Van Gundy has played acoustic guitar since he was 13 years old, but then switched to classical when he was 16. He has been playing classical ever since.

“I am nervous,” Van Gundy said. “You have to practice. A lot. I have to memorize about an hour of music. It takes a lot of discipline to play in front of people without your hands shaking or forgetting notes. I am also exited because I graduate after this.”

Music students are required to take private lessons on their chosen instrument as part of their degree.

“My role in preparing a student for their senior recital is largely helping them to choose appropriate and varied music to perform, and then working with them individually to understand and perform that music at a high level,” Assistant Professor Dr. Roger McVey said. “I also help them prepare for the experience of performing.  It is a scary experience to get up in front of an audience and perform, even for professionals. It is a high-pressure situation.”

McVey has been working with Kevin Bruggenthies individually on piano for the past four years.

“Kevin has been working very hard on his senior recital program. I am immensely proud of his progress and I know that he’s going to do a great job,” McVey said. “What I enjoy most is seeing the tremendous musical growth and development of a student from their freshman to their senior year. After working closely with a student continuously for four years, you get to know them very well and participate in their transformation from teenager to adult.  I feel very honored to be a part of that process, and to pass on the knowledge that my teachers generously gave to me.”

As the applied instructor, Dr. Thomas Barnett helps with selecting literature and recital preparation.  He also has helped with Kleppe’s trumpet recital.

“Applied lessons can be very challenging, and even frustrating at times, for both teacher and student,” Barnett said. “When the senior recital comes to fruition, all of the past challenges and issues clearly become the stepping-stones that led to the student’s success.  Simply put, their weaknesses become their strengths.  Seeing this enthusiasm and growth in my students is what makes me excited to come to work.”