Clarinet Studies at Virginia Tech
There’s something to be said about having incredible faculty and facilities. Virginia Tech is an elite academic institution with both. With an accomplished faculty and one of the lowest student-to-teacher ratios you will find anywhere, students receive the personalized attention you would expect at a small liberal arts college not at a major research university.
The crown jewel of our arts community is the Moss Arts Center. This 147,000-square-foot facility features the 1,300 seat Anne and Elle Fife Theater; a multimedia development studio; several art galleries totaling 4,200 square feet of gallery space for traditional, digital, and new media exhibits; a TV studio; and the Collaborative Performance Lab — known as "The Cube."
Virginia Tech is quite the playground for future music professionals. Studio EnvironmentThe clarinet studio at Virginia Tech is a tight-knit group of 15 music majors. While the atmosphere of the studio is relaxed, everyone has a common sense of purpose and is excited to be at Virginia Tech. While there is healthy competition within the studio, students are always supportive of one another and are often close friends. LessonsAll music majors have a weekly one-hour private lesson with Dr. Paglialonga (the course is called “Applied Clarinet”). Extra lessons are always available to those who need additional help throughout the term, so most students finish the term having had several extra lessons.
Each week students are assigned a variety of materials including: scale studies, technical studies, etudes, solos and orchestral excerpts. While the student plays in the lesson Dr. Paglialonga takes detailed notes of what he is going to say in each students’ notebook. Typically students receive two to three pages of notes for each lesson. The comments in the notebook are often simple and easy to understand, and are meant to remind students of exactly what to focus on in their practice during the week. Students are encouraged to use their notebook during their weekly practice and to re-read the notes frequently to be sure they are focusing on the right things. Studio ClassIn addition to regular weekly lessons, each week all students are required to attend a two-hour Clarinet Studio Class. The format of Studio Class fluctuates from semester-to-semester, but most of the time the first half of studio class is a presentation of some sort and the second half of Studio Class involves some sort of playing. Typically each semester has a topic that is the focus for the semester and everything presented relates somehow to that topic. Recent focuses include: Prominent Clarinetists of the Past, the Pedagogy of the French-American School of Clarinet Playing, Reed Selection and Adjustment, and Rhythm.
Throughout the semester the studio class time is also used for guest artist classes. Recent classes have included a workshop on how to perform Klezmer Music by Michele Gingras (Distinguished Professor of Clarinet, Miami University) and a repair workshop by noted repairman Wes Rice that taught students how to completely disassemble and clean their instruments. Frequently guest artists will also present traditional master classes during studio class.Chamber MusicAll Virginia Tech clarinetists are heavily involved in chamber music. At the start of the semester every clarinet student is assigned a clarinet chamber group that is coached by Dr. Paglialonga that focuses on developing ensemble skills. Most clarinet students also have a second chamber music group with strings, brass or other woodwind students that is coached by other distinguished artist faculty.Large EnsemblesVirginia Tech offers clarinet students a multitude of large ensemble playing opportunities. Unlike most major research institutions, the music program is undergraduate focused so there are no graduate students to monopolize playing opportunities. Large ensembles include the New River Valley Symphony Orchestra, Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Symphony Band, and the Jazz Ensemble.
Placement in large ensembles is determined by a blind audition behind a screen at the start of each semester. Students prepare a short list of orchestral excerpts and are evaluated solely on their performance. At the conclusion of seating auditions students are always provided detailed comments on their audition and are encouraged to meet with each member of the audition committee for additional comments.
Every large ensemble clarinet section rotates parts so that students graduate with the ability to comfortably play any role in a large ensemble.
Large ensemble concerts are held in the beautiful new Fife Theater at the Moss Arts Center. This 1,300-seat hall is a truly exceptional space boasting one of the best acoustical environments you will find anywhere
The large ensembles at Virginia Tech frequently undertake exciting projects that bring the group beyond campus. Recently the Virginia Tech Jazz Ensemble recorded a full album that was just released commercially. The Symphonic Wind Ensemble returns to Carnegie Hall in April 2017 and the Virginia Tech Chamber Singers just returned from a tour of Ireland. It is fair to say that at some point during your four years at Virginia Tech you will find yourself in some sort of incredible project that will take your music making beyond Blacksburg. Marching Virginians The Marching Virginians help create an unforgettable experience for thousands of fans at Lane Stadium each year. In the fall of 2015, the MVs celebrated the opening of the new Marching Virginians Center, a rehearsal facility dedicated to improving the high- energy performances and exciting music of the band.
Since their creation in 1974, the MVs have performed for hundreds of nationally televised football games and parades. The MVs have received numerous compliments for outstanding performances at Virginia Tech's recent bowl games, including the 2008 and 2010 FedEx Orange Bowls and the 2012 Sugar Bowl.
Members of the Marching Virginians include students from all walks of life and from majors across the university. Music majors are welcome to audition for the MVs or to decide not to participate. Typically about 1/3 of the clarinet studio participates in the MVs, and all of those students have nothing but positive things to say about their experience. Music majors are not pressured to participate in the MVs and participation does not qualify you for additional scholarship money or anything like that.
If you are considering majoring in music education it is probably a good idea to join the MVs for at least a year or two. Or if you are passionate about football and would like to make some lifelong friends the MVs is definitely worth considering.Guest ArtistsClarinet students at Virginia Tech regularly work with some of the best clarinetists from around the world. Guest artists present recitals, give master classes, teach lessons and build lasting relationships with Virginia Tech clarinet students.
Recent Clarinet Guest Artists• Alexander Fiterstein (International Soloist)• Charles Neidich (Julliard School of Music)• Corrado Giuffredi (International Soloist)• Michele Gingras (Miami University)• Cecilia Kang (Furman University)• Rob Patterson (Acting Principal, Baltimore Symphony)• Christopher Nichols (University of Delaware)• Charles West (Virginia Commonwealth University)• Javier Vinasco (EAFIT Universidad-Medelín, Colombia)• The President’s Own Marine Band Clarinet Quartet
Beyond CampusClarinet students regularly take their studies beyond Blacksburg. Recently one student was awarded a grant to study in the Czech Republic, another attended a summer program in Colorado, while a third was awarded a large scholarship to attend a summer festival in Philadelphia. In the spring of 2016 a group of Virginia Tech clarinet students traveled to Trinidad as part of an exchange with the University of Trinidad and Tobago. As part of this exchange clarinetists from both countries performed side-by-side and learned about each other’s culture and music.
Virginia Tech is incredibly supportive of student research and encourages all students to take their studies beyond the classroom. Dr. Paglialonga is always supportive of students that want to find additional opportunities off campus and will do whatever it takes to help students make their project a reality.Double MajorsOne of the unique aspects of an education at Virginia Tech is the large number of students deciding to pursue a double major. Unlike most schools, Virginia Tech does not charge any additional fees for taking extra coursework each semester, which eliminates many of the financial burdens usually associated with doing a double major. In most cases students deciding to double major are able to complete both degrees in four years (though this sometimes involves summer school). Occasionally, there are also students who triple major and are able to finish in four-years!
Dr. Paglialonga is always supportive of those students who express an interest in double majoring. Generally he encourages students to find two majors that somehow compliment each other so that both degrees can be used in their ultimate chosen profession.
Virginia Tech is a highly respected institution and graduating with multiple degrees is nothing but a serious asset to your resume.Visit Virginia TechIf you are interested in learning more about Virginia Tech click on the "Learn More" button on the left. Dr. Paglialonga would be happy to meet with you for a free introductory clarinet lesson and campus tour.
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