Meet Dr. Rutland

Faculty Profile
by Daniel Mollenkamp

Photography by Emily Jordan

Please use Professional bio for programs and publications

The best piece of advice John Rutland ever got was from his father. “Ask yourself, if you had to pick one thing that you had to do for free for the rest of your life, what would it be? And then do that.” John thought, “Play my violin, of course!”

Today, Dr. Rutland teaches violin, viola, and conducts the University Symphony Orchestra at UCM, where he’s taught since 2000. He considers himself incredibly lucky to be in a career where he spends his time learning, teaching, practicing, and performing music. His favorite part of the job is getting to introduce students to great musical pieces.

Growing up, John and his family sang in choir and would regularly get together with other families on Sunday nights to sing around the piano. When the opportunity came to learn an instrument, it seemed natural. The man who taught strings in Jacksonville, Arkansas gave a presentation at his elementary school and convinced him that strings were the thing. He gave John a form to fill out that listed violin, viola, cello, and bass. Unable to decide, he closed his eyes and dropped a pencil on the form. It landed next to "violin." And the rest is history.

John would eventually learn to play all the string instruments, but violin remained his focus, and he became a member of the Arkansas Symphony at age 16. Before college, he briefly considered fields besides music, such as philosophy or history, but his father’s advice and his intuition kept him on track through his degree in music education and his masters and doctorate in violin performance.

Among his long list of credits, Dr. Rutland performed with the Orlando Opera and Florida Symphony Orchestra, was the concertmaster of the University of North Texas Symphony Orchestra, and the concertmaster of the Lee’s Summit Symphony Orchestra.

Dr. Rutland provides his students with a solid technical foundation that is crucial. There are no frets on a violin or viola, so every time you put your hand on the string, it’s an educated guess. His goal is to get his students’ guesses more and more educated. Emphasizing listening, fundamentals, “woodshedding it”- practicing a piece till you work it out – and most importantly, a sense of humor, Dr. John Rutland helps students grow into their own, musically, and have fun doing it.

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