Violin and Viola
Nayyirah Wood started her venture with string instruments at the age of seven in the second grade, when she started playing the violin. She trained with this instrument for five years, and in the seventh grade, she transitioned to the viola. In June 2020, Nayyirah graduated from the High School of Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA), where she was the second chair in the viola section of the orchestra. Now, she is attending Rowan University as a Music Education Major.
In High School, she held her passion by being involved in several music programs during each school year. Not only was she accepted into the Philadelphia Music Alliance for Youth for five years, but Nayyirah was also the principal violist at the end of her senior year of High School. In the Summer of 2018, accepted into the Philadelphia Music Alliance for Youth (PMAY) and was in the Chamber Players Orchestra. Further, she was a student at the Philadelphia Youth Artist Orchestra and a member of the All-City Philadelphia High School Orchestra.
Throughout her high school career, she has had several mentors and influences. In her Freshman year, she had the pleasure of being taught by Adelya Shagidullina at CMSP, where she developed more control over her craft. In her Sophomore year, she was instructed by Yecheskel Francis at CMSP, where she learned different genres of music and the functionality of music in any given period. In the Summer of 2018, Nayyirah was instructed by Michael Casimir at the Curtis Institute. He assisted her with audition pieces and helped her understand the emotion in these pieces. From the Summer of 2018 to 2020, at Temple Prep, she was trained by Sam Quintal from the Jasper String Quartet. She continued to focus on audition pieces, intonation, and rhythm. During the fall of 2019, was an Honorary in the Philadelphia Orchestra All City Fellowship and was trained by Philadelphia Orchestra Member Marvin Moon to help her with the upcoming college audition.
Now at Rowan University, she was taught by Dr. Timothy Schwarz and Dr. Ana Tsinadze in learning how to improve her craft to become a future educator. Is President of the Rowan University Student chapter of the America String Teachers Association. Member of the American Viola Society, National Association of Music Education and Sigma Alpha Iota.
When did you begin playing strings, and why?
I started playing violin at the age 6 years and at the age of 11 I started playing Viola. I really started based off of being interested in music but my school at the time only had violin. My school finally got a Viola and my teacher told me that I’m learning if I like it or not. I enjoyed playing Viola and moved on in my career as a violist in high school and college.
What other instruments do you play, and what is your experience with them?
In my degree I have been taught instruments like oboe, bassoon, flute, tuba and currently percussion. I do not personally think I sound good but I did enjoy the flute when I was learning.
What are your personal goals as a musician?
I look forward to playing the Viola Sonata by Clarke before I graduate and getting better at theory.
Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked? Something you’ll remember forever?
I think every day I learn something while I’m playing but it was a couple months ago I was reading some music back when I was a 2nd year in college and I refused to play 3rd position at the time and I was reading my notes. It was easier to play in 3rd than playing any other position and I started laughing because my teacher told me so many times. I feel I became more open to change but looking back at my experience it taught me to find better position.
What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument
Correcting bad habits from years of not correcting my bow hold. It took me my first 2 years of college just to correct it, and I was happy during Covid to take time to fix those problems instead of ignoring them.
What is your biggest musical achievement?
During my high school experience I was able to play Into the Woods and I was super excited because that was my first musical theater experience. It was something I loved. I’d enjoy doing musicals in the future.
Favorite thing about teaching?
It’s amazing seeing how much you can learn in 30 minutes and reflecting on how we started to the end of session makes me enjoy teaching. Just as simple of teaching a D major scale and seeing the improvement from day one is amazing.
What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?
It’s not perfect from the beginning! Put your time and patience through learning and we will get to a better understanding of enjoying the process instead of it sounding perfect.
Personal music projects:
This year I will be having my senior recital.