• Music prof applies lessons from sports to teaching a musical instrument

    Wiff RuddWhen you think “research,” you probably tend to think of people in white labcoats working with test tubes or lasers or something. There’s certainly plenty of that kind of work going on at Baylor, from cancer research to particle colliders to water quality studies.

    But research can mean a lot of other types of study, too. For instance, School of Music professor and 1977 Baylor graduate Wiff Rudd’s research into musical team practice caught my eye this spring. Rudd (pictured) theorized that since musicians often work together in performance or recording, it doesn’t make sense for them to spend all their time practicing individually. “This could be compared to practicing tennis alone by continually hitting the ball against a wall and volleying with one’s self, instead of actually playing with or against a partner,” Rudd said. Collaboration is “the essence of music-making — more like the real game.”

    It sounds simple, but there are very few published methods and technical studies in the field that take this approach. Rudd has implemented his ideas into his own work with Baylor’s trumpet players, with good results. After seeing his approach, several visiting artists have encouraged Rudd to publish his methods. Named this spring as the 2010 Baylor Centennial Professor, Rudd will receive an award of $3,000 that he plans to use towards producing educational publications and CDs of his approach.

    Sic ’em, Professor Rudd!