Muriel Cotman, music student at Victoria College, will continue her music studies at Sul Ross State University.
Victoria College sophomore Muriel Cotman can competently compare the skillsets of music and spelling because she is very accomplished at both.
“In spelling, you either spell a word right or wrong,” said the two-time National Spelling Bee qualifier. “But with piano, as long as you don’t make any errors as to which notes you have to play, you are all right.”
Cotman, 21, hasn’t hit many wrong notes since she took up the piano seriously in 2010. Cotman regularly plays the organ at multiple churches. She recently performed an organ solo at the Holiday Concert which was conducted by Victoria College Music Instructor Dr. David Means and featured the VC Choir and Choraliers, Victoria Civic Chorus and Cuero High School Choir.
Cotman’s final performance as a Victoria College student came on Dec. 6 when she opened the VC Fall Student Recital with Bach’s Prelude in G minor on the organ and closed the event with Jean Sibelius’ Romance, Op. 24 No. 9 on piano.
“Romance by Sibelius is a flowy piece that’s more melodic,” said Cotman, who has been accepted into the music program at Sul Ross State University in Alpine. “So if you mess up in that one, people will notice more easily. I’m proud of having played it. I had a problem with being too metronomic, and too aggressive, but that one I’m proud of how I did.”
Cotman, the daughter of Rev. Bill and Tessa Cotman, developed a love for music early growing up hearing hymns and singing in children’s choirs.
“As long as I can remember, I’ve really liked music,” Cotman said. “But it wasn’t until I started learning piano that I learned I really loved to play music also.”
Cotman first learned piano from her church’s organist and music director, Beverly Cheshire.
“She got me into theory contests, the piano guild and Texas Music Teachers Association recitals at Victoria College,” Cotman said. “That’s how I first became familiar with VC.”
Cheshire introduced Cotman to the organ. Cotman later took lessons on the instrument at Trinity Lutheran Church in Victoria from Leah Matocha.
“I don’t know if I could choose which one is my favorite,” Cotman said of the piano and organ. “They are so different. Not too many people play the organ anymore.”
In between her lessons, Cotman also developed a talent for spelling. She qualified for the National Spelling Bee in 2014 and 2015, and both times reached the semifinals.
The word that knocked her out in 2015 was “cupressineous.”
Cotman admits she gets more nervous before playing a piano or organ solo than she was standing in front of cameras and a crowd of hundreds asking for the language of origin for “punchinello.”
“I don't remember being that nervous at all at the spelling bees,” Cotman said. “I think I just kind of thought it was a fun thing to do.”
Cotman said she is thankful for being able to hone her musical talents at Victoria College.
“VC helped me immensely,” Cotman said. “In my first recital at VC, I played a Rachmaninoff piece that I had been working on. I felt really good about it. Dr. Means said I did very well, but that Rachmaninoff piece was my baseline. I needed to get better from there.”
Means said he has seen Cotman grow as a musician at VC, and feels she is ready to take her talents to the next level.
“Muriel has been an outstanding student here at Victoria College where she has been a dedicated pianist, organist and singer in both choirs,” Means said. “She has excelled in all her courses and has an extremely bright future ahead of her as a music student and music professional. We are very proud of Muriel and all her accomplishments and look forward to hearing many great things from her in the future.”
Victoria College’s Music Department offers a comprehensive music program for students who want to study music as a major. Besides offering choir, band and orchestra, Victoria College also offers private lessons in voice and most band and orchestra instruments, as well as music theory, class piano and music appreciation.
Scholarships are available to students who want to study music.
For more information, call (361) 573-3291 or email David.Means@VictoriaCollege.edu.