I have been teaching at UNCSA since 2011. The UNCSA School of Music is the music conservatory within the 17-campus University of North Carolina system. UNCSA is in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in an environment that includes 5 thriving art schools. Students get one-on-one instruction and mentorship, many performance opportunities, access to a comprehensive curriculum of classes, and exposure to extraordinary guest artists.
Tuition Grant Program
If you are a North Carolina high school junior who wishes to pursue a career in music but may not have the means to pay for college, please consider doing your high school senior year at UNCSA. Admissions to the UNCSA High School is competitive, but if you get in, thanks to the new Tuition Grant Program, all in-state students that graduate from our high school Program get a full scholarship for all four years of college at any UNC campus, including UNCSA. If you are applying to UNCSA to pursue a college degree, there are many scholarship and financial aid opportunities too. Please don’t hesitate to ask!
Selected UNCSA Stories: Powering Creativity
Original sets, lighting, animation, choreography and dance by UNCSA student-artists will join forces with Agatha Ruiz de la Prada’s(opens in new tab) design to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of composer Manuel de Falla’s masterwork, “El Amor Brujo,” in a multidisciplinary concert in New York City on Sunday, March 13.
Rebecca “Bex” Nelson sees mathematics in everything. And more than four years removed from her days in the high school program at UNCSA, the 2017 School of Music graduate can still point to the essay she wrote her junior year when she came to realize and appreciate the ubiquitousness of the discipline.
The UNCSA Clarinet Quintet
The UNCSA Clarinet Quintet was formed in 2021 to play an active role in avoiding ethnic and gender inequality in music, and serves as a platform for UNCSA student-artists to develop artistic leadership, and artistic excellence, while promoting access to the arts in their community.
Recent projects include performances at UNCSA’s Crawford Hall, a Watson Hall performance at the UNCSA Clarinet Day, and the recording of works by Florence Price and Lawrence Dillon for video releases underwritten in part by a faculty leadership grant from the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts.
My Philosophy of Teaching
By Oskar Espina Ruiz
My goal is to prepare my students to become independent artists with a broad understanding of musical styles and a professional approach to music making. That means that beyond establishing a strong foundation, I make sure to provide the space and opportunities for each student to blossom, while I support and mentor them every step of the way.
To achieve excellence in clarinet performance, first I focus on building a strong foundation, starting with sound production and sound quality. I work with each student on establishing an aligned and relaxed posture, developing breath capacity, understanding and establishing a good embouchure and the control of partials, tonguing and tongue position, voicing, resonance, legato playing, intonation and how to develop one’s ear, achieving evenness across registers, and controlling various fingering speeds over open clarinet holes.
I teach these fundamentals through short technique exercises that focus on one aspect of clarinet playing at a time, and that serve a double purpose: first, they are daily exercises to develop a particular skill; then, they become tools that students learn to apply for problem-solving, to expand their interpretation and expression.
Weekly listening and score study assignments from my Basic Repertoire List allow students to expand their repertoire and develop their ear and knowledge of diverse styles and performance practices. My students implement basic research methods, and use resources they can find within their library, and elsewhere (Chamber Music America, ICA, etc.) to expand their knowledge, to satisfy their curiosity, and to take an active role in avoiding racial and gender inequality in music, for example by taking a woke approach to concert programming. Working with living composers is an extension of this work. For me and my students, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging is not an ideal on a page, but a way of life, from the way we communicate about music, to the music we perform, to the way in which we bring forth the power of music to our community to make this world a better place to live in.
At every lesson I give my students a work plan and the tools and strategies to achieve meaningful progress. A big part of this is teaching how to practice effectively, with the conviction that the more effective the practice is the better the performance will be. I strive to get each student to develop the vision, understanding, and skills necessary to effectively project their own well-defined performance.
I require my students to perform often to develop the art of performance, which takes practice and repetition. My goal is to get each student to perform with ease and comfort. In addition to imagination, eloquent communication, deep listening, and great focus, posture and movement are important parts of performance: they have a direct impact over the sound production, and they support one’s own style and interpretation. My students develop a rich body language in performance, including clear cuing.
By teaching my students to teach effectively, and by creating opportunities for them to practice teaching, my students become better performers, and they gain a skill they are likely to use for the rest of their lives.
I believe that both motivation and an insatiable curiosity are essential for students to develop their full potential.
Finally, my students understand the importance of being honest, responsible, and easy to work with, always communicating clearly. I foster my students’ entrepreneurial spirit and their passion to share their art with others, making sure they reserve time to give back to their community in meaningful ways, both through traditional channels and by creating new ones.
UNCSA Fun Facts
Did you know that legendary Spanish guitarist Andrés Segovia taught at UNCSA?
Andrés Segovia joined the UNCSA faculty in 1965 as adviser and consultant for classical guitar, teaching master classes and helping UNCSA establish its guitar program.
Listen to an excerpt from Andrés Segovia’s masterclass at UNCSA on April 21, 1966.