Bluegrass and everything in between: Sophia Harnew-Spradley’s musical talents

Sophia Harnew-Spradley (C’22). Photo courtesy of Harnew-Spradley.

By Anna Pusok
Staff Writer

When she was seven, Sophia Harnew-Spradley’s (C’22) mother dragged her to a bluegrass festival. Remembering this event, she said, “I was really mad because I was missing a friend’s birthday party, but I ended up playing mandolin in the festival because that was the only thing small enough for me to play.” 

She continued, “I never really stopped playing. I kept doing the workshops over the summers, and I’ve been able to teach mandolin.” Besides the mandolin, she has played the piano since she was five. “When I became a teenager, I picked up the guitar.” While the guitar is the instrument that gives her “emotional expression, the mandolin is still the one that she’s the most comfortable with. 

 As a neuroscience major and music minor, she tries to combine the two things that she’s interested in by looking into music therapy. She explained that “it’s not a very expanded field yet. It didn’t exist until the beginning of the nineteenth century.” Because it is starting to become popular now, she is hopeful that the subject will be more expanded in the future.

Two courses she recommends for all music lovers are From Ragtime to Radiohead: Music in the Era of Recordings and Electronic Music: Synthesis and Digital Recordings. The first class taught her “the history of jazz, rock, and bluegrass” and she humbly shares that it was a little daunting at first.

In the other class, during the second half of the semester she got to write her own song, which she described as “an amazing experience.”

On campus, Sophia is involved in several activities related to music: including being a part of Growing in Grace and acapella, and is a former member of the University Choir. This year, students can hear her playing at Sewaneroo, too.

Sophia is also a Music House co-director and loves the diversity of the music genres that the residents bring into the house. “Some people play classical, I’m the only bluegrass person. We have a nice mix. I love it!” She recommends that Sewanee students attend Open-mic nights hosted in Stirling’s as well as follow the Music House on Instagram.

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