Here’s part 3 of my Midwest Clinic update (read Part 1 and Part 2). As with the previous two days, day three was packed with lots of activities, including my own presentation on Stopped and Muted horn. The first event I attended was a standing-room-only performance by the Boston Brass. This group always sounds fantastic, and they put on a very entertaining show. Long time fans of the group know they recently welcomed Chris Castellanos on horn, who took over the position when J.D. Shaw left to join the faculty at The University of New Mexico. Chris and I attended the Las Vegas Music Festival together about ten years ago, and at the time Chris was already a busy freelancer in the area. He sounded great then, and he sounds even better now!
After the Boston Brass concert I headed over to a presentation by the Powers Woodwind Quintet, a faculty ensemble in residence at Central Michigan University. Their clinic was titled Gems: Music for High School Woodwind Quintet, and featured performances of several excerpts from a wide variety of wind quintet literature. The group sounded great, and I was really impressed with the horn playing of Bruce Bonnell, Associate Professor of Horn at CMU. One point they made in their presentation that really stuck with me is the importance of chamber music in high school music programs. Getting students involved in chamber music makes their large ensemble playing better, and the whole band benefits from this experience – and it’s also really fun! I have very fond memories of playing in brass quintets, wind quintets, and horn quartets in high school, and I made some lifelong friends in those ensembles. Band Directors, I know you’re busy, but it really will make a huge difference in the quality of your large ensembles if you institute some kind of a chamber music program at your school. Reach out to local private teachers and/or university faculty for help with coaching and repertoire selection.
After a brief lunch break it was time for my presentation. Everything went smoothly, thanks to the great staff at the Midwest Clinic. I had a pretty good crowd, and got lots of positive feedback after the presentation. I even made a good recruiting connection with a band director from Texas, which wasn’t something I was expecting this far from home (their band program has 29 horn players!) Another unexpected but welcome visitor included one of my former high school band directors. I really enjoyed getting to reconnect with him after several years, and overall I think the session was a success.
To close out the day I attended a session by the founders of the ALIVE Project. ALIVE stands for Accessible Live Internet Video Instruction, and the group acts as consultants for educators who want to use video conferencing technology to host interactive lessons, performances, and master classes. This idea is gradually gaining ground, and I think it holds a lot of potential, especially in the age of decreasing budgets and increasing travel costs. Will it ever replace live lessons and classes? Probably not, but it is a great supplement and a wonderful alternative when bringing a group to campus isn’t feasible. I was intrigued by their ideas, and it’s something I’ll be looking into very closely.
Stay tuned for the fourth and final installment in this series tomorrow.