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Friday, Aug 12, 2022

Mercer Artist: Julia Swain plans to teach music in India

Julia Swain is a Music Performance major at Mercer.
Julia Swain is a Music Performance major at Mercer.

Senior Julia Swain is an artist in more ways than one. Although she is mostly involved in the music school and plays viola for the McDuffie Center for Strings, she has also become more involved in Mercer’s visual arts program.

Swain has been involved in the arts from a very young age. She began playing the violin at age six, and then at age 10 she began her lessons with the viola.

A Chicago native, Swain decided on Mercer and Macon mostly for the McDuffie Center for Strings. Not only was she impressed by the program itself, but she found the teachers very inspiring.

“I heard about this school because of the amazing faculty, actually. When I had a lesson with my viola teacher after auditions, I really appreciated her teaching style,” Swain said. “I felt like she wanted me to be the best musician I wanted to be for myself, not necessarily as her product.”

Swain’s parents have always been very supportive of her involvement in the arts. Although she is the only one in her family pursuing music professionally, Swain’s father also has a deep love for music.

“My dad does play fiddle at the Farmer’s Market and he likes fun instruments like the mandolin and banjo, but it’s all for fun,” Swain said.

Swain wants to continue her career in music after graduation. She plans on doing some internships and nonprofit work in India, teaching rhythm to children that are underserved as a means of emotional expression through music.  

“I make music because I use it as a way to communicate and connect with not only other people, but the world,” Swain said.

While Swain enjoys playing around the different campus venues, she really enjoys playing around the city and being able to connect with the people in Macon.

“I really enjoyed playing at Daybreak in Macon. The audience at Daybreak is really special to me because they listen to music without any kind of formal training or critique that I’m expecting from my peers,” Swain said. "The way that they respond and the way that I respond to them and the way we communicate together is really special. That’s why I love music.”

As for art, Swain really appreciates the help of professor Eric O’Dell, who has been encouraging her this semester in her painting class. Although she has always been artistic, she feels like being in this class has helped her understand herself and her style a lot better.

“When I first started his class, I had never had any formal training. But he’s so encouraging of our own styles and improving based on where we’ve come from and not compared to someone who’s been painting for 20 or 30 years,” Swain said.

Swain encourages those who are thinking about pursuing art to just try it out.

“Music and art are such wonderful things to have in your life, and they’re all around you, even if you’re not actively pursuing it. Music and art are what you make them, and they can be your whole world if you just look through a different lens,” Swain said.

Swain will hold her senior recital for the viola in Fickling Hall on April 8 at 1 p.m.


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