The Kathy Cashen Recital Hall filled quickly as students, faculty and guests awaited the student performance that was soon to start. The crowd hurriedly situated themselves in their seats to invite the silence that would introduce the performer. They would soon be surrounded by the alluring melodies of a piano controlled by Andrea Culpepper.
Culpepper, a senior at the University of West Georgia, is from Thomson, Ga., a small town outside of Augusta. With a double major in Music Education and Jazz Performance, Culpepper is a busy woman. On top of being a music major, Culpepper is also a member of the Gospel Choir.
Culpepper’s Jazz recitals on Nov. 12 included pieces such as “All of Me” and “Lady is a Tramp”, as well as six original compositions.
She enjoys composing pieces rather than playing someone else’s.
“It’s my interpretation of what I’m feeling at the moment,” said Culpepper. “When it’s a concert with just me by myself, I usually start coughing a lot.”
Even though Culpepper has become used to the constant concerts and performing, she still becomes nervous.
Culpepper will regulate her breathing while she is backstage and then walk out to begin her performance. She tries to look for people she knows so she can keep her eye on them for the duration of the performance.
The life of a music majors is constantly occupied.
“As a music education major you have to learn how to play every instrument, so you take a lot of technique classes,” said Culpepper. “Right now I’m in wood technique. I just learned saxophone, now I’m on oboe.”
She never has her sheets in front of her, which is not a problem. She is a lover of sight-reading, so memorization is her least worry.
“It’s actually easier now than it was in high school,” said Culpepper.
Along with being in the band in high school, Culpepper sang in the choir and also played on the basketball team. Her active schedule then prepared her for the busy life she lives now.
Culpepper was also a member of the UWG marching band playing the mellophone, a French horn type instrument. Due to knee injuries from her athletic days in high school, Culpepper decided that after three years she would end her marching band days.
Culpepper expressed at a young age that performing was something she wanted to do. She began playing the piano at age 13, but had been singing at her church since she was a toddler. She also participated in many talent searches.
“I liked them, they were fun, but my parents did not want me to do it,” said Culpepper. “But they supported me. I wouldn’t have been in any of this music if it weren’t for my grandmother. She made me go to piano lessons and choir. She would pick me up and ask if I enjoyed it. I’d say no.”
She credits her grandmother for the musically inclined person she is today.
“My passion for music really didn’t hit until my grandmother passed away.”
Culpepper also gets her passion from little kids.
“When you see the smile on their faces when they hear their favorite song, it is the most joyous thing you have ever seen,” said Culpepper.
After graduation, Culpepper wants to become an elementary school music teacher. As a music teacher, Culpepper plans to not stick to specifics, but instead teach her students about music in general and all the different elements involved with it.
With one semester left, Culpepper’s schedule won’t be slowing down soon. She is happy to be finishing up and will cherish what she has accomplished at UWG and all that she has learned.
“I just try to get the emotion across,” said Culpepper. “You never know what somebody may be going through that day and your song may touch them. If that last person on the back row will shed a tear for one of my songs, then I’m satisfied.”