Valdosta Daily Times

February 10, 2014

Having the world on a string

Adam Floyd
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — After Valdosta State University violinist Tiffany Ryce graduates in a few months, she hopes to instill her lifelong passion of music in others.

Ryce is originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., where she learned to play piano from a young age, but it was not until her family relocated to Jonesboro, when she was 10 that she picked up the violin.

“I’ve played piano all my life, but when I was 11, and it came time to play an instrument at school, I wasn’t interested in playing brass or woodwinds,” said Ryce. “My cousin played violin, so I started playing, too, and I fell in love with it.”

She played and practiced throughout middle and high school, and while sorting through her college options after high school graduation, VSU caught her eye.

“I was drawn to VSU’s music-education program. That’s my major now, and we have something called the South Georgia String Project,” said Ryce. “It’s where kids from the community come for private lessons as well as lessons in a classroom setting. I’ve gained lots of experience from that program.”

Ryce has learned to play several more instruments at VSU, like all music-education majors, and she hopes to pass that knowledge onto the next generation of musicians.

“I would like to teach pre-K through 12th grade and then continue with my education by getting my master’s degree,” said Ryce. “With the South Georgia String Project, I teach violin, viola, cello and bass in a classroom setting. I really enjoy teaching them.”

Ryce believes her experience with the South Georgia String Project will make her a more effective instructor because it has deepened her enthusiasm for music.

“The way we get them interested is we teach them things they can relate to. For the younger ones, we teach them songs they can sing back to us,” said Ryce.

For the older kids, they pick out popular pieces from movies. Currently, Ryce works with students on a piece from the

soundtrack to the “Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy.

When Ryce is not teaching children how to play string instruments, she spends her time going to church, playing the occasional wedding and hanging out with her friends. But time for catching up with friends has been scarce lately as she prepares for an upcoming recital.

“The senior recital shows everything I’ve learned in the last four years at VSU, my growth as a musician,” said Ryce.

She will play “Temp di Minuetto” from Fritz Kreisler and “Partita #2 in D Minor Alamanda” from Johann Sebestian Bach.

“Playing Bach is generally very hard because it is less up to the interpretation of the musician. The Baroque Period, that type of style, you can’t put a modern twist on it,” said Ryce. “You can’t put a lot of slides or twang. You just don’t have that in Bach music.”

Ryce said the hardest part of playing classical music, especially Bach, is sticking to traditional interpretations while still making it “your own.”

Ryce’s recital is 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 16, VSU’s Whitehead Auditorium in the Fine Arts Building. The event is free and open to the public.