Belmont Summer Winds

Last Summer I was not satisfied with the quality of band camp I attended thus I began the search for a new camp.  I decided the best idea to narrow my search was to look for summer programs at the different colleges I was interested in. That’s when I found Belmont Summer Winds.

I had been looking into Belmont University for a while because of its reputation as a good Christian Private Liberal arts school with a music therapy program, a great clarinet professor, and its gorgeous campus. Everything was exactly as I had hoped it would be.

Belmont Summer Winds

Belmont Summer Winds is a band camp hosted at the Belmont University campus in Nashville, TN run by Belmont’s Director of Bands, Barry Kraus. During this one week session, students participate in master classes, jazz ensembles. woodwind ensembles, brass ensembles, private lessons, and Wind Ensemble rehearsals led by Belmont staff and alumni. After each full day of music, students enjoy fun activities on campus to get to know each other and have a little fun (Not that rehearsals aren’t fun but…..)

Auditions

Auditioning for Belmont’s Summer Winds Camp was actually my favorite audition I’ve ever done. Not because I played my best, but because I got to pick from my own repetition what I was going to play. The last band camp I went to required me to spend all summer learning and preparing my All Region and All State material in hopes that I would make first band. But this summer I got to play one of the solos I had been preparing in my lessons at home and with only one band total I was only competing for a chair. This was a lot less stressful and a lot more convenient as students who attended the camp came from all different states. Learning both Arkansas and Tennessee All Region Material in one summer would have been a challenge.

Master Class

The clarinet Master Class was led by Belmont’s Clarinet Professor, Dr. Daniel Lochrie (pronounced like Loch in Lochness Monster). Throughout the week, master classes were the time we got to get feed back on our playing from a professional clarinetist. Dr. Lochrie plays with  the Grammy-winning Nashville Symphony and is co-founder of The Eastwood Ensemble. Through out the week he gave us classes on the basics: tone, scales, fingering, embouchure, tonguing, articulation, voicing, hand position, sight-reading, piece preparation, and nerves. (man we got a lot done). I don’t think I’ve ever been in a more productive master class. In one week we covered everything clarinet that I can think of. Hopefully soon I can write a blog post about each of the aspects of clarinet and share some of Dr. Lochrie’s insight and teaching methods.

Private Lessons

I treated my week at camp as a Belmont crash course. Belmont was one of my top two colleges that I was considering to join next fall (more on that later) so one of my main priorities while I was there was to get some private lessons from Dr. Lochrie to get to know him better, introduce myself as an interested future student, and play for him. I think this was the best thing I did while I was at Belmont. During my lesson Dr. Lorchie and I talked about Belmont’s audition process, its scholarship opportunities, and even the idea of getting to play with Vanderbilt’s Marching Band because Belmont does not have one of its own. Most of what I learned about the school of music at Belmont including their performance, education, and therapy programs I learned during my two hours of lessons with Dr. Lochrie.

Sectionals

Sectionals are always so fun. How often do you get to play a piece with only woodwind parts during high school band? Unless you go to a school who focuses on small ensembles, this never happens. The band camp I attended last summer was very brass focused which was great…. for the brass players. But this camp had equal focus on brass, woodwinds, and percussion due to the quality of time and attention we received in our respective sectional classes everyday.

Chamber Music

I believe that the two best thing you can do for your music career is 1: take private lessons and 2: play in chamber groups. By playing one on a part in a small ensemble, you have to be responsible not only for your part, but for fitting yourself in the groups sound. At Belmont’s camp I had the opportunity to play in a woodwind quintet. I have playing in duets and trios, but I have never played in a woodwind quintet before. It was so fun to be playing music focusing on woodwinds.

Wind Ensemble

Led by Dr. Kraus, the Wind Ensemble spent two classes a day in group band rehearsals preparing music to perform in one week. My band only plays one concert a year and we get months to prepare, but one full concert with a large wind ensemble, a jazz, ensemble, woodwind quintets, brass quintets, and other instrumented ensembles is a lot to learn and prepare in one week. But we did it!!! Performing such a long, challenging program and doing it well was a huge accomplishment for everyone who participated.

Out of the two band camps I have attended, Belmont was by far my favorite. I highly recommend looking into it even if Belmont is not a school you are looking into for college. I traveled 8 hours from Arkansas to Tennessee, but one guy at camp traveled all the way from California to attend camp at Belmont . No matter where you are or who you are, look into Belmont Summer Winds Camp for next summer.

Concert Etiquette: for the Audience

Going to a formal performance or concert is nothing like a sports event or competition. In order to be respectful and support the audience, the best thing you can do is make sure you are using the proper concert etiquette.

What to Wear

When going to a formal performance or concerts, Sunday best is always the best choice. Not too hot or too cold.

Girls: A simple dress, skirt, dress pants, or even nice jeans(no holes) with a  blouse would be simple and appropriate. Some times auditoriums can be cold so it would me smart to bring a light sweater or jacket.

Guys: A good pair jeans with out holes or khakis with a nice shirt(no T Shirts) like a polo or simple dress shirt would be ideal. With dress shoes or work shoes instead of tennis shoes. I would not advise you to wear a hat, but if you do be sure to take it off before entering auditorium.

Before Performance

When buying tickets keep in mind young children. If you will have a young child who may cry or have a fit during a performance, please sit on an edge seat so that you may exit the auditorium as quickly as possible so not to disturb the performers or other audience members.Before even leaving your house make sure you have the tickets with you so you aren’t struggling to get back in time. Please use the restroom before finding your seat. No one likes having to stand up in the middle of a performance because the person in the center of the row has to use the restroom.The isles between seats are always really tight. Don’t be the person who blocks the aisle with your coat, huge purse, and umbrella. When finding your seat the letter refers to the row and the number refers to the seat. If you are struggling to find your seat find someone who works there to help, don’t just sit in a random seat. Some performance halls have a concessions stand to buy snack Or drinks to eat during the performance. So be sure to stop by to get something before entering the auditorium (make sure food is allowed in the auditorium). The best performance venues have a coat and bag check. Use them.

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During the Performance

Before a performance begins, often times the lights will dim. This is your signal to end your conversations, turn off your phone and pay attention. When the performers or musicians enter the stage, do not wave, shout, or yell as the p (even if its your daughter). Be sure to pay attention to any announcements before the show. If you plan to record or take pictures during the performance make sure that it is allowed.

There is nothing worst than getting stuck in front of a couple that wont stop talking or the young child who thinks its okay to put their feet on or kick the back of your seat. Please try to save your comments until after the performance and make sure neither  you nor your children are not shuffling your feet or moving throughout the performance.

At the end of each piece, you should applause respectively but do not whistle, yell, or shout out names. Sometimes a the band will stop playing as if it was the end of  the song, but some pieces of music have multiple parts or sections called movements. Before the performance, it is smart to read through the program and take note of any pieces with multiple movements because you are not supposed to clap between movements. If there is no formal program, (or in the odd chance you didn’t get one) an easy way to know when to clap is when the conductor steps off of his podium or box and faces the audience.

After the Performance

At the end of the program, your level of enthusiasm and clapping represents your appreciation for the performance. If you really enjoyed the performance, a standing ovation is  more than acceptable and highly recommended. In many professional performances, an encore performance has been prepared. If you enjoyed the performance so much that you would like to hear more,  keep standing and continue clapping with the same intensity after the group or soloist exits the stage.  After the encore you should give another standing ovation, but when the group leaves the stage, you should gather your things and leave. Don’t rush, but the longer you hang around and talk in the auditorium the longer the people who work there have to stand around before cleaning up. With that in mind if you got concessions during the performance, please take your trash out with you and throw it away.

Hope this helped! Enjoy listening to music and seeing live performances!

Concert Etiquette: for the Performer

Nothing is more distracting to a performer than bad concert etiquette.  But for a performer, it is very important to have good etiquette on stage in order to put on a professional performance.

The Performer

If you are performing in a group, it is always best to do what your director or conductor tells you to, but if you are not given any specific guidelines on how to present your self during a performance, here are some basic guidelines:

What to Wear

Before I leave my house, I always want to make sure I am appropriately dressed.  Wearing the right clothing is important for the performer to look professional.

For Girls: a dress and a pair of comfortable and practical heels are ideal, but a nice pair of dress pants and a blouse are also acceptable. When playing with a group I try to avoid wearing flashy colors so that I do not stand out in the group. A black concert dress is always the safest route. I advise that you always be sure to wear a pair of spandex shorts under your dresses or the appropriate pair of underwear if you are wearing a  short dress. But if you are a soloist, it is perfectly acceptable to bring out that flashy elegant bright red dress in the back of your closet that you’ve always wanted to wear. You are the focus, show off your playing and your style.

For Guys: Whether performing in a group or a solo, owning several pair of nicely fitted black dress pants is necessary for any performer. But renting a tux is  not. Some groups you will play with will have a particular color of shirt (usually black or white) that they will ask you to wear in the performance along with a black suit jacket. Just be sure that you are wearing an appropriate undershirt as well. Black dress shoes and socks are also very important because most stages are set up to where the front for of the audience is almost eye level with the floor of the stage. You don’t want anyone to notice the pink hearts on your socks. If you wear a tie, please please please make sure it matches your shirt. Two different patters is not acceptable even if they are the same color.

Entering Stage

Normally your director will give you specific instructions on how you should enter the stage and get to your seat. But there are a few things a director should not have to tell you. You should not wave at any one in the audience (even if its your mom or best friend). Stay focused, follow the person in front of you and when you get to your seat, do not sit until everyone in your row is standing in front of a chair. This gives you time to make sure everyone has a chair and a stand so that you aren’t having to switch chairs around or get a stand last-minute in front of your audience. Once you’re seated (with good posture), you can noodle around on your instrument to warm up and test your reed. But when the conductor enters the stage stop all playing. If your conductor has you tune before a performance use that time to really listen to the people around you and across the band for tuning and balance and please spend that time tuning, you already had time to warm up.

During the Performance

While sitting, a good posture with a flat back and slightly lifted chin will make you look professional and helps you produce a better tone by lifting the weight off your diaphragm. Do not cross your legs or angles under your chair, but keep both feet flat on the floor. It is acceptable to tap your toe lightly  while you are playing as long as it is quiet enough that the audience members cannot hear it. But most importantly, if you make a mistake on stage, you can not let it show in your face or posture. You have to recover and keep going as if it never happened. That way you can convince your audience that you played the entire piece perfectly.

Obviously watching your conductor is the best way to have a successful performance without any tears, but it is also important to pay attention and watch your conductor at all times. At the beginning of every piece you should raise your instrument to playing position at the same time the conductor raises his arms. If you do not play at the beginning, put your horn in resting position (what ever the first chair player is doing) and bring your horn up 2 measures before you come in. Same goes for the end of each piece, do not move or lower your instrument until your conductor lowers his arms. Often times after a piece of music, your conductor will step off his podium to address the applause and even ask soloists, sections or the entire band to stand. He will do so by gesturing to you or raising his arm. Small gestures like this are easy to miss and lead to confusion when the band doesn’t all stand up at the same time. Be sure that you are sitting on the edge of your seat so that you can easily stand up on a short notice. When you stand after a performance, you need to turn and face the audience. (its okay to smile) If you are in a group that has lots of soloists like a jazz ensemble, it is acceptable to shuffle your feet quietly as a sort of congratulations to the soloist.

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After the Performance

Again it is very important to watch your conductor at the end of the performance so that you see his gesture to stand, face the front, and bow. Often times the will then gesture for you to return to your seat and gather your things before leaving the stage in the same way you entered. Other times, after the bow and the applause dies down, the conductor may immediately direct you to exit the stage. If this is the case, be sure you gather all of your things, you don’t want to leave a reed case or your music on stage.

I know it’s a lot to think about, but it really does pay off and give yourself a professional stage appearance that will impress your audience. Good luck with your performances!! Next week you can read all about good audience etiquette.