• Liguez, UTARadio.com Garner Awards, Recognition
Student Scholarships Impact Quality of Musicians, Ensemble Performances
Music scholarships could mean the difference between hearing a Brahms symphony and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” at a future chamber orchestra concert.
Just as a collegiate football team seeks the best players from across the region to spark a winning season and a shot at a national championship title, so too does the Department of Music at The University of Texas at Arlington rely on recruiting top talent to bolster its ensembles and the program.
“Without scholarships, we’ll lose out on top recruits,” said Dr. Clif Evans, Assistant Professor and Director of Orchestras. “Those top-tier students have abilities to do things that allow me as a director to pick music that’s a bit more exciting, to add an additional concert to our schedule, and overall help the department become stronger.”
Recruiting the best musicians and singers is a primary focus of the department as the University seeks Tier One status and moves further onto a national stage. Scholarships affect courting those All-State musicians, the way in which players are put together in groups and the opportunities students and faculty have to shine. Better players mean more challenging pieces that advance everyone’s abilities, officials said.
“It impacts the ensembles,” said Dr. John Burton, Professor and Department Chair. “They are the window to the University. Those groups reflect the department in the community. Not having the best players we could limits the choices of repertoire. And when those students go to our competitors, it makes those schools better, not us. It’s an ongoing challenge to have the resources to attract students.”
The availability of scholarship money is part of what attracted tenor Nick Garza to UT Arlington. The Harlingen sophomore moved to North Texas last fall and is already a rising star, joining local groups like the Orpheus Chamber Singers and the Dallas Bach Society when not performing for the University.
“I wouldn’t be able to go to school if I didn’t have most, if not everything, covered [by scholarships],” he said. “If there was no money, I would have to rethink my options of going to UTA.”
Scholarships also mean the difference between students participating in department ensembles or not at all. Katrina Grenz, a senior and violinist in the symphony orchestra, said the partial scholarship she receives, along with two part-time jobs, enables her to cover school tuition and living expenses – as well as pay for equipment, costly instrument repairs and maintenance.
Grenz is hoping to begin her career as a middle school or high school music director, then continue her education with graduate studies before moving on to teach at the university level. She said watching her instructors and conductors through participation in the UTA Symphony Orchestra has been instrumental in mapping her future career.
As state budgets for education shrink, the department is actively and aggressively recruiting donors to meet the needs of students. In April, UT Arlington hosted its first-ever Spring Scholarship Gala at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas. The concert, which featured the department’s a cappella choir, jazz orchestra, symphony orchestra and wind symphony, kicked off a $1.8 million endowment fundraising campaign to provide future scholarships for more than 320 music majors. Providing much-needed resources to students, officials said, has a ripple effect over the student body, faculty and the University.
“Scholarship needs are part of the vision for our school,” Evans said. “Supporting music scholarships is a way to raise the profile of the school on a local, state and national level. It enhances the cultural atmosphere on campus … and more students are able to participate.”
And it isn’t a case of money for nothing: sophomore music business major Freddie O’Lenick said his scholarships have reduced his stress and anxiety about dealing with debts after college and allowed him to focus solely on his studies and performances. He understands there are expectations to live up to and hard work ahead.
“A music scholarship has made me more determined to achieve academic success,” O’Lenick said. “Having the scholarship gives me all the motivation I need to go to rehearsals, classes, lessons, or performances and give 110 percent effort and focus.”
College of Liberal Arts
© 2015 - The University of Texas at Arlington