UWF Violinist Practices Craft for Hours Each Day

Pensacola – Ramel Price plays violin in the University of West Florida Runge String Orchestra, and he practices for four hours every day.

“I love the violin because I think that more than any other instrument it has the power to move people,” Price said. “I love the tone, the sound.”

Price, a music performance major in his senior year at UWF, has been playing the violin since he was 9 years old. He took beginner’s lessons for about a month, and then he played by ear throughout high school.  A few months before graduating from high school, he met professional violin player and professor Dr. Leonid Yanovskiy and has been studying with him since then.

After Price received his associate degree in music from the Pensacola State College, Yanovskiy, who is the director of strings and orchestra at UWF, encouraged Price to continue his studies at the University. Now, Price is concertmaster in the Runge Strings Orchestra. The ensemble consists of music majors and minors and performs five to six concerts each season at UWF, Pensacola State College and in the community.  The orchestra has performed with student soloists and UWF faculty members, as well as with distinguished guest soloists, guest conductors and choral and instrumental ensembles from UWF, Pensacola State College, Atlanta and New York.

“Ramel is the hardest-working, hardest-practicing student in the orchestra,” Yanovskiy said.

Though he attends classes full time in the Fall and Spring and has a part-time job as a dietician’s assistant at Select Specialty Hospital, Price practices four hours a day.

This summer, he practices in the afternoons after his shift at the hospital. During the school year, he breaks up the practicing throughout the day.

“I’m used to getting up early,” Price said. “So, I will get up at 5 a.m. or so and practice for two hours. Then, I practice for another two hours after my classes are over in the afternoon.”

He maintains some form of these schedules seven days a week. Any hours he spends in music class or at a rehearsal are not calculated into the four hours a day. Those four hours are reserved for what he calls “personal practice.”

“That means taking the time to really intensely and intimately focus on your craft,” he said. “It can be like a meditation or a stress reliever. It really calms me down.”

Price often practices in front of a mirror or records himself so that he can go back and watch as well as listen.

“It’s about what I see and what I hear,” Price said. “Sometimes when I make a mistake, I can see it is because of posture or because of something about what my left hand or right hand was doing. If I can see it or hear it, I can correct it.”

When he makes a mistake, Price usually plays until the end of the musical phrase and then goes over the correction five times, slowly.

He said he does not find the long hours arduous because he is “determined and focused on a goal.”

That goal is to play solos with large orchestras around the world.

“I don’t want to be rich or even famous, although people would have to know me to want to come to my concerts,” Price said. “I just want a chance to play music, to get across a composer’s message to as big an audience as possible.”

Next week, his rehearsal schedule will be adjusted when he starts attending a two-week course of masterclasses at the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University.

Price heard about the special violin institute from his teacher, Yanovskiy, who advised him to attend in order to “learn from world-class instructors.” Price said much of his time at Northwestern will be spent observing others as they play the violin.

He hopes, of course, to get a chance to play, too, while he is there. He will maintain his schedule of four personal practice hours per day.

“Any time I am not practicing, I am not working toward my goal of being the best that I can be. Price said. “There are no secrets, no shortcuts. You get out what you put in.”