American rhythm

Students learn from diverse composers


Michelle Davidson

The seventh annual piano studio class recital took place Mar. 2 in Terry Concert Hall.

On March 2, The Jacksonville University division of music presented the seventh annual piano studio class recital from the American Music Symposium and New Music Festival.

The event featured performances by piano students from the studio of Scott Watkins.

Watkins, associate professor of music, is also a composer that teaches piano
theory at JU.

“I hope the students learned a lot about music that they never heard of before, composers that they’ve never heard of,” Watkins said. “I hope they learned about themselves, how to handle pressure, how to learn new music that they are completely unfamiliar with. This is not Beethoven or the Moonlight Sonata, something that everybody knows. This music takes some intense study and practice.”

The concert consisted of American music from the likes of George Chadwick, Robert Starer, Robert Helps and Dan Locklair.

Some of the students found themselves overcoming adversity by learning to play music that they were unaccustomed
to playing.

“I don’t have a lot of experience playing American music,” said  Alexandre Lunardelli, junior music composition major. “I play jazz a lot, which is American, but not classical. It’s completely different; everything is more subtle in
classical music.”

Still, some students have been familiar with playing this genre of music once before.

“Practice was kind of strenuous because it was only three notes,” said Sabrina Morby, junior music major. “So I had to focus on getting the rhythms perfect. I do like playing classical a lot, on the piano at least. It’s every straightforward and you can use a lot of emotion in it and you don’t have
to improvise.”

The event was a learning experience to certain members of the audience.

“The American composers give insight to the musical world,” said Olivia Patton, junior geography and humanities double major. “A lot of people get the connotation that American music isn’t as beautiful as traditional works from the likes of Europe.”

Going into the next piano concert, Watkins hopes to teach more essential lessons to help his students perform better.

“I hope to teach how to help students better prepare for the panic that they feel when they walk on stage,” Watkins said. “Not everyone knows how to do that. Some people are very natural at it, and some people aren’t. In today’s concert there were a lot of people whose primary instrument is their voice, and they know how to do that when they get on stage, but to use a different skill set they don’t know quite how to do that.”