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Piano Student Receives Full Scholarship from Texas Association of Music Schools
BROWNSVILLE, TEXASSEPTEMBER 13, 2013Adonai Ramses Avalos grew up in a home filled with classical music.
“I liked the music my parents played, and I wanted to learn how to make music like that,” said Avalos, a 20-year-old sophomore music education major specializing in piano at The University of Texas at Brownsville.
Avalos is one of three Texas music students to receive this year’s coveted Clara Freshour Nelson Music Scholarship from the Texas Association of Music Schools. This $24,000 gift of the Clara Freshour Nelson Foundation of San Antonio will carry him through his undergraduate studies.
Adonai Ramses AvalosAdonai Ramses Avalos 
Avalos is the fourth UTB student to receive the Nelson scholarship – and he is the only piano student to be selected since its inception five years ago.
“I am honored to receive this amazing scholarship, and I am so grateful to the Texas Association of Music Schools,” Avalos said. “And, I am relieved; this will let me work on my music and not have to think about taking out loans for school.”
Avalos credits his piano instructor, Professor Richard Urbis, for supporting him in his piano studies and guiding him through the application process.
“Mr. Urbis worked with me all semester,” Avalos said. “He helped me prepare my music selections and bring them to a degree of accomplishment that I was comfortable sending in my audition.”
To apply for the Nelson scholarship, students must write an essay, submit three letters of recommendation from professors, and send in a recording of the student performing their musical selections.
“I have never had to challenge Ramses to study,” said Urbis. “He is one of the best and most dedicated students that I have been pleased to mentor. He is a scholar, he is ethical, and I know he will succeed in making his community a better place by sharing his remarkable talent.”
That talent became apparent when Avalos asked his parents if he could study piano at the age of seven, and he began taking lessons. When he was ten, they enrolled him at the UTB Music Academy, which offers private music lessons, group instruction and performance ensembles for children and adults.
“I studied for seven years with Mr. Uzziel Guzman at the academy before my family left Brownsville,” said Avalos. “We moved to Tepic, Nayarit, a state on Mexico’s central Pacific coast, when I was 16.”
In Tepic, Avalos was unable to find a teacher that could challenge him, so he practiced on his own. After graduating from high school three years later, he followed his brother, Anubis Avalos, back to Brownsville. Also a music education major, Anubis Avalos recently became the music education teacher at Champion Elementary School.
“My brother started playing drums in middle school – that’s when I began piano,” Avalos said. “I am a percussionist, too, and together we play in several bands around town.”
Recently, the brothers and their group Surrealistas played with Taffelmusik, a student chamber music group. The show featured selections from The Beatles to close out Taffelmusik’s summer series.
“I enjoy playing pieces from the Romantic and Classical Eras, but primarily the Romantic Era,” Avalos said. “My favorite composers are Chopin, Liszt and Beethoven. For my spring recital, I am working on a sonata by Beethoven, an etude by Liszt, and a piece by Villa-Lobos. Each is from a different musical era, representing Classical, Romantic and Modern.”
Avalos’ sister, Isis, studied dance at The University of North Texas. The three Avalos siblings talk about one day starting an arts academy.
“Maybe here or in Mexico, we’re not sure at this point,” Avalos said.
For the moment, the brothers share an apartment and play in bands together.
“I read a lot about music history,” Avalos said. “I’m ready to travel to some of the places that are so important in music, so I’m thinking about a semester abroad – maybe Vienna or St. Petersburg – and now with this scholarship, that thought has much more chance of becoming reality.”


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