Performance Opportunities

     1. Concerto Competition


Students from The University of Southern Mississippi School of Music compete in
the annual William T. Gower Competition to appear as soloists with the orchestra
in one of the most popular evenings of music.

     2. Experience (orchestra gigs, church gigs and outreach programs)

In addition to frequent campus performing schedules, many students have opportunities to play off campus as well.  In the past year, viola students have performed at numerous local churches, middle schools and high schools, nursing homes, with various regional orchestras, Meistersingers, and many others.

     3. A Sample of Life as a violist at USM:

Private Lessons

All music major students will take one-hour lesson with Dr. Lee every week. The lesson will emphasize on technique improving, repertoire learning, musicianship developing and any of the individual needs and problems.  

Scale Lessons

Besides the lesson with Dr. Lee, students are required to take a 30-minute lesson with an assigned teaching assistant on a weekly basis. This lesson will emphasize the major and three minor scales, arpeggios, thirds, sixths, and octaves from the Carl Flesch Scale System. 

Master Classes 

Students meet every Tuesday morning for the recital class. The classes are devoted to the standard viola repertoire in an open-lesson setting, with comments from the audience. The orchestral repertoire and excerpts, viola ensemble music and the viewing of classical videos of great performers are also included.

Every semester, we will invite violists to offer master classes to the viola studio. During the past few years, we have had many guests at Southern Miss:

  •  Prof. Roberto Diaz from Curtis Institute
  •  Dr. Catharine Carroll from the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music
  • Prof. Karen Ritscher from Oberlin Conservatory
  • Prof. Kirsten Docter from Cavani String Quartet
  • Dr. Pamela Ryan from Florida State University
  • Mr. Bruce Owen from Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Dr. Qiao Solomon from Agnes Scott College
  • Ms. Masayo Higuchi from the Oregon Symphony
  • Dr. Matthew Daline from Louisiana State University
  • Dr. Matthew Dane from the University of Oklahoma

Viola Orchestra Repertoire Class

Students plan to pursue orchestra job are encourage to take the repertoire class. This class is an introduction to the core orchestral repertoire for viola and a testing ground for practical experience in auditioning. The course focuses on students’ improvement of their orchestral playing skills, and stresses the value of experience in the art of auditioning. Mock auditions are, thus, an integral part of the course, and help the student to understand more fully the preparation necessary for successful orchestral auditions.

Students who took the orchestra repertoire class in the past had won positions in the following regional orchestras:


Mobile Symphony Orchestra

Meridian Symphony Orchestra

Pensacola Symphony Orchestra

Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra

Participation in the University Orchestra

Violists with scholarship offered are required to participate in the university orchestra. Dr. Jay Dean is the Director of the Southern Miss Orchestras which perform a variety of literature for orchestra that includes standard symphonies, opera, ballet, Broadway, and orchestral pops. The ensemble has hosted a number of world-renowned soloists in recent years including violinist Joshua Bell, flutist Sir James Galway, tenor Placido Domingo, violinist Nadja Salermo-Sonnenberg, tenor, and soprano Renée Fleming. For more information about the orchestra program, please click here. (orchestra website)

Chamber Music 

Chamber music is a vital part of life for the string players at Southern Miss. Chamber groups receive a weekly coaching from a faculty member and present two formal concerts each semester.  Several groups will be chosen to perform in an Honorable concert later.

Regional Symphony Orchestras 

All violists are encouraged to audition for various orchestras in the area. These included Gulf Coast Symphony ( Meridian Symphony Orchestra (, Mississippi Symphony Orchestra (, Mobile Symphony (, Pensacola Symphony Orchestra (, and Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra Students who are selected are paid for their services and gain an invaluable experience as members of a professional orchestra.

Suzuki Strings Program

Students with certified Suzuki teacher training have the opportunity to teach through the Southern Miss Suzuki Strings Program (

Viola Festival

Every other year, the viola studio hosts viola festival along with the Gulf Coast Viola Society at the University of Southern Mississippi campus. The past two viola festivals had brought together over seventy participants from Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Texas, Florida and Mississippi, ranging in age from ten to seventy. Violists enjoyed various recitals, lectures, ensemble music reading and playing and master classes during the festival. To see the past festival information, please click here. Come join us for this great opportunity to meet the violists next time!