“I was stunned to learn I was the recipient of such a prestigious award,” says Audrey Selph. The Presser, the College of Music’s top award, is given to a student who exhibits excellence in both music and academic performance.
Audrey, however, should not be surprised. She is pursuing two undergraduate degrees—Music Performance and Music Therapy –and doing superbly in both. She says, “Each requires a serious commitment of time and musicianship. It’s often a juggling act.” The course workload does not overlap, and although “an extra challenge,” she has “found great joy in using music across a wide spectrum—from one-on-one therapy sessions with a client lying in a hospital bed to performing solo works for audiences of my peers in Dohnanyi Hall. The atmosphere and goals are vastly different, but the care I take is the same.”
She gives much credit to the College of Music—”the best in the country”—and its faculty. Choosing a favorite teacher is impossible, and although naming a “handful seems almost a disservice,” she will always be grateful to Dr. Pamela Ryan, her viola professor. It was Dr. Ryan’s introductory lesson, while Audrey was still in high school, that clinched her decision to attend Florida State. “She has been a challenging pedagogue and supportive mentor, shaping me both as a musician and a person.”
From Music Therapy, there is Dr. Alice-Ann Darrow, who “has been very influential in directing my path and introduced me to fields I never considered.” And there’s String Bass Professor Melanie Punter—”My string quartet was lucky enough to have her as our chamber coach.” Because of their dedication even at late Friday afternoon rehearsals, not generally a time for seriousness, the quartet has taken on the nickname “Weekend Killers Quartet.”
Next on Audrey’s agenda is a six-month Music Therapy internship, “in a climate where the leaves change.” Which area of Music Therapy has yet to be decided—”I feel drawn to Hospice care and to forensic/in-patient psychiatric care.”
After that, she’s off to graduate school, perhaps overseas, for viola performance. She says, “I’m looking to expand my cultural horizons. There is something very empowering about being independent in a completely new setting. Maybe that is what draws me to Therapy and Music—the ability to adapt to and understand unique environments, and to find myself again in each.”