TOTFA Stories

Thea Rusch ~ Another Fine Fiddling Talent From Victoria

It seems that there is no end to the number of Texas Old Time Fiddlers who hang their hats in Victoria such as "ole" Jake Glidewell, Wade Stockton, and PT and Bonnie, just to mention a few. Add to this list, Ms. Thea Rusch, who, along with Bonnie Riley, round out the ranks of teen-age female old time fiddlers from the Victoria area who deserve honorable mention via the newsletter. Thea first came to my attention a few years ago at the contest in Crockett where she and Regina Matthews were swapping fiddle tunes during an evening jam session. That was some fine fiddling!!

Thea is fifteen years old, a sophomore at Victoria High School and lives with her mother and father Dorothy and Jan Rusch in Victoria, Texas. Thea has one brother, Tyler, who is in his freshman year at Texas A & M University. (Gig 'em Aggies!). She began playing the fiddle when she was in the second grade. The desire to play was initially kindled as a result of a vacation in Branson, Missouri, and attending a concert by the well known Oriental-type fiddler from the "Mystical East," Shoji Tobuchi, and was thoroughly impressed. Shortly thereafter, she began taking violin lessons by the Suzuki method, but this soon proved inconvenient, "what, with Mom and Dad both working," made it very difficult to keep up with the Suzuki schedule. It was then that fiddling became a very serious matter for Thea when she began taking lessons from Wade Stockton on a very rigorous weekly schedule. Fiddle lessons from Wade continued for some five years, followed by lessons from Carolyn White and Valerie Ryals. Thea is currently taking lessons from Jimmie Don Bates in Austin. She is most grateful to those who have helped her along the way in becoming a fiddler and gives each one a "great big thank you for your time, interest, and willingness to assist us in keeping the tradition of Texas fiddling alive and well."

Thea is a regular in the old time fiddling contest circuit. She has participated in many contests since becoming a fiddler but her favorite is the annual Fiddlers Frolic in Hallettsville. Aside from the contests, she has participated in a variety of country music programs statewide, as well as entertaining at nursing homes and a number of different school events. One of her more memorable performances occurred in 1998 at a corporate event in Point Comfort where she was called upon to perform before a provincial governor from Taiwan. It was by the recommendation of Wade Stockton that she perform in an effort to show the contrast between folk fiddling in America and traditional violin music in China.

Old time fiddling is just one of many Thea's interests. She is also very busy in maintaining a rather demanding schedule in high school. She is a member of the swim team and has been a competitor at stat- level swimming events. She is also vice-president of her sophomore class, an honor roll student, and a member of the organization of World Scholars. In addition, she is a prospective member of the National Honor Society, and was selected by her peers as the class favorite for each of her freshmen and sophomore years. (WOW!) Her plans for the coming summer season are to swim in the Victoria Summer League, attend Texas A&M University swim camp, work as a lifeguard, and win some fiddling contests. Her future plans include higher education and studies at Texas A&M with emphasis upon the sciences and continuing to play the fiddle as a Texas Old Time Fiddler! How about that, for lofty ambitions and ideals for a most attractive young lady and a fine fiddler.

Charles Gardner