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Clarinet Studio News

Raquel Bruening, Clarinet and Pageant Queen


Wisconsin native Raquel Bruening (MM performance, 2017), has been involved in pageantry for nine years and has held a total of eight titles at the local, state, and national levels. Music has helped her be successful in the pageant world as much as pageantry has helped her in the world of music and academics. Raquel was a runner-up three times at the Miss Wisconsin pageant (through the Miss America Organization) and won a talent preliminary award one of those years performing selections from “Concertino” by Carl Maria von Weber. Also playing that piece, she was the talent winner at Wisconsin’s Junior Miss 2010 and was second runner up. Last summer, she was named USA National Talented Miss at the USA National Miss pageant by performing parts of “Rhapsody In Blue” by George Gershwin. Raquel has earned over $9,500 to date in scholarship monies that helped pay the tuition of her undergraduate degree in music education at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Pageants have not only helped her financially, but she has grown in her communication skills, stage presence, interview experience, and so many other necessary career attributes.

Giving back to community is also a main aspect of pageantry, and Raquel has made music advocacy and volunteerism her platform and named it “My Gift, Your Song.” She has volunteered by performing in nursing homes, schools, children’s centers, and a prison multiple times. She has also spoken to teachers, students, parents, and administrators about music advocacy promoting the social, emotional, and intellectual benefits that music has on children. Raquel is not done with pageantry yet, so keep an eye out for what this UNCG clarinet performance student + pageant girl does next!


Distinguished Alumnus Dr. John Cipolla

Each year, the UNCG College of Visual and Performing Arts invites one distinguished alumnus from each of the four schools––art, music, theatre, and dance––to the campus to be honored and to interact with our community. This year, clarinetist Dr. John Cipolla was chosen as the music recipient, and as part of his visit, he gave a masterclass for the clarinet studio on Friday, November 4. He is a professor of clarinet and saxophone at Western Kentucky University, and in the class, he focused on clarinet fundamentals that he teaches on a daily basis in that position, sound, finger movement, and phrasing. He also talked about his experience of being a musician for Radio City Music Hall in New York City for the past 32 years. Thank you, John, for sharing with us! In the image below, Dr. Cipolla works with freshman performance student Kate Serbinowski (’20).



Masterclass with Tracey Paddock, of the President’s Own


ABOVE: Tracey Paddock articulates a teaching point to Alex Whitehead (BM performance, ’18).

The President’s Own Marine Band was in town for a concert on October 29 and since they are having a clarinet audition in November, Tracey Paddock offered a masterclass in the audition material and on the general process of auditioning for the elite band. She has been a member of The President’s Own since 1998. She share that her her own path to winning a position involved auditioning four times, and also explained that she has served several times in clarinet auditions in various capacities, including the “up close” role of audition proctor or assistant, sitting next to each auditioning candidate while they play. In the class, she spoke with much nuance about what skills the band looks for in clarinetists, and strategies for standing out in an audition. Thank you, Tracey, for sharing your perspective and that detailed advice!

A Profile of Darla Cheung, ’10


Darla Cheung (BM, performance, 2010), after completing her MM degree at Arizona State University, built a large and successful teaching studio in Houston, Texas. She especially enjoys starting beginning clarinetists. Currently, he teaches over 50 students who range from the 6th through the 12th grades. She also performs in churches, musical theater productions, and recently started a reed trio, which she hopes will perform in area schools and around the community.


Congratulations to Kwami Barnett (MM, 2015)

2016 has been a good year for UNCG clarinet student alumnus Kwami Barnett! In 2015, Kwami moved to Colorado to pursue his DMA at the University of Northern Colorado, Greeley (I have felt some kinship to that university as “the other UNCG” but actually their abbreviation is “UNCO”). This post is dated as October 11, 2016 to mark his first faculty recital in his new teaching position at Colorado Christian University. A few months after being appointed at CCU, he also won the Principal Clarinet position with the Denver Philharmonic. Congratulations to Kwami, and best wishes to your developing career in the West!