Accomplished string musician joins Community School of Music

Bill Thurman has always been a natural at playing stringed instruments. It?s one of the reasons he has evolved into an accomplished fiddler/violinist and violist.

Now, individuals enrolled in the UCA Community School of Music have the opportunity to learn from the nationally-recognized musician, as he has recently joined the school?s faculty.

Thurman said he was pleased to have the opportunity to join the Community School of Music. ?I was impressed by the fact that they (the Community School of Music) had what looked like a good, solid music faculty,? Thurman said. ?Plus, UCA is a good middle-sized school in a nice small town in a state that I really like.?

Thurman is a fiddler/violinist and violist, and his teaching specialties are Celtic and old-time fiddle, jazz violin and viola. He said, ?I would really like to teach jazz/swing, Celtic fiddle styles and old-time fiddle to more students right here at UCA.?

He received a master of music degree in viola and composition from the University of Memphis and was awarded the Johannes Smit Prize for his composition “Andromeda,” written in 1975. Since then, he has developed an active career in classical, pop, rock, old-time fiddle, folk, jazz, blues, country and ethnic music of different countries. He primarily performs and teaches fiddle music of various styles, most recently in and around Texas.

Thurman is a performer, composer, arranger and teacher who has taught workshops in a number of states including California, Tennessee, Texas, Michigan, Illinois and Kentucky. His 1992 release “Gigs and Reels,? 1992 release of “Eftehia,” and 1996 “Color of Your Heart” have been sold both nationally and internationally. “Fiddlin? My Life Away” was released in November 2000, and his most recent release was “From Mountain View To Mountain Dew,” in October 2001.

?As much as I love fiddle, it is the whole world of music, near and far that really moves me. I will even turn them (students) on to some great classical stuff that they would not ordinarily hear about,? he said.

Thurman has recorded for, or backed up in live performances, such entertainers as

Isaac Hayes, Willie Mitchell, B.J. Thomas, Brenda Lee, Barbara Mandrell, Johnny Mathis, Tony Bennett, Dionne Warwick, Sammy Davis Jr., and Natalie Cole. He made a guest appearance with The Chieftans, the premiere Irish music group at Mud Island Amphitheater in Memphis, Tennessee in 1995.

Jann Bryant, director of the UCA Community School of Music said, ?We are extremely pleased to have an artist of Mr. Thurman?s stature in the alternative string styles area teaching in our school. Opportunities are rare in our state to have a classically trained, degreed musician teaching in the fiddle and jazz area. To have someone who also regularly performs, has produced several CD?s and has played with some of the world?s great stars of music is an added bonus.?

She added, ?I encourage anyone who would like to learn to play the violin or viola in a non-traditional style to check into our program. Students should have had at least a year or so of classical training or fiddle lessons.?

For more information, or to register for lessons with Bill Thurman, contact Jann Bryant at 450-5755, 450-3672, or

-Jennifer Boyett