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Richmond Punch:

 rue Renaissance T Man BY SHANTELLE E.

GRAY, STAFF WRITER- CROSSBEARER

RICHMOND PUNCH is a graduate of Yale University School of Music with a Master of Music degree in Viola (2005) and a Bachelor of Music degree The last time we talked we were discussing some of your more recent performances and your CD; An Evening of Classical and Jazz Music: Celebrating the 11th Anniversary of the Punch Family Benefit Recital, which my parents purchased at one of your performances in December of 2006. How are plans for this year’s Benefit Recital going? Good. This is the second year we’ve had the silent auction, CD sales are ongoing, and we’ll have a new CD this year. There will also be advertising opportunities in the ad book and people can give donations at the concert. Could you share a bit about the Punch Family Foundation? Our mission is to assist minority string students in performing art studies beyond high school. We provide opportunities to develop and display the students’ artistic talents. We were featured in this past week’s Dallas Weekly (article ran through May 22nd). We provide grants called Gayle’s Gifts to assist music students in music related expenses. (i.e. strings, instrument repair, travel to summer music camp) This year’s recipients are Georgiana Howard and Stamos Martin, both alumni Booker T. Washington high school. Georgiana’s family didn’t get very involved with her musically, but she got support from others. She’s very smart; she’s freshman class president at Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina and aspires to attend the Harlaxton Music Festival (HMF) in Harlaxton, England. The $4,000 tuition does not include the additional $800 needed for airfare.

I'm sure most people would like to know what age you started playing an instrument? I started playing the piano at age 5 and the violin at 6 years old. I was introduced to strings at a concert when I was 6. Any tips or advice for beginning music students? If you know you have a strong passion, you have to listen to yourself. Often, you may not get a push from family and friends. To get good, find a routine. I tell students if you’re able to practice for 10 minutes a day, seven days a week, you’re improving. The next week, increase your practice time to 20 minutes a day. A routine is very important. You play the violin and viola. What drew you to study string instruments and what are the specific differences in playing one of these instruments from the other? I went to a public Montessori school (L.L. Hotchkiss Elementary School) where there were excellent music programs. The main difference between the violin and viola is that the violin is like a soprano voice and the viola is an alto. The viola is better for people with larger hands or longer arms. Who has been your greatest source of support and strength through it all? My mother and sister support me. I was able to do what I’ve done with the help of benefactors and mentors. Another key was that I was told about programs outside of school.

Stamos Martin, like Georgiana, was a Booker T. Washington high school student, and he is now a cellist at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. While he was excited about his acceptance to the Aspen Music Festival in Aspen, Colorado, he knew the $7,000 price tag would be a major hurdle. He called upon a small support team that included Gayle Punch of the Punch Family Foundation.

You graduated from Arts Magnet in Dallas, TX went on to pursue a Bachelors of Music at Juilliard and obtained a Masters in Viola from Yale and have been teaching ever since. Describe your teaching method. I make sure to present myself clearly whether I’m teaching children or adults. (He teaches children and adults ages 4 – 30) You have to be able to explain things at people’s levels. Children need to understand clearly what you’re saying. I might tell them a story to teach something and I’ll have it apply to other things they are learning in school (math, etc.)

Stamos and Georgiana each received $1,000 from the Punch Family Foundation to help with their music education - scholarships they attest have made all the difference in their access and entry to these institutions.

I also believe in passion. You can’t teach passion, but you can share yours with others. I strive to be a passionate artist. Videos are great for visual learners; the student can replay it over and over to learn how to play

May/June 2007

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