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.

University of Arkansas Clarinet Day 2016

This past Monday, Nophachai Cholthitchanta from the University of Arkansas hosted a Clarinet Day for young clarinetists to have the opportunity to take master classes and watch recitals from world-class players. Over 100 students from junior high to college levels came to participate in the event. This years guests  were Andrew Simon’s, the Principle Clarinetist of the Hong Kong Philharmonic and Wolfgang Lohf from Lohff & Pfeiffer USA.

Opening Concert

The event began with an opening concert performed by Nophachai’s Clarinet Studio and… well me. For our performance we played Percy Grainger’s Molly on the Shore and Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor. Video is coming soon.

History of Clarinet Lecture

After the studio performance, Nophachai gave a lecture on the history of clarinets. I could write an entire post on his lecture and his collection of over 400 clarinets but to sum it up, we leaned to determine the difference between German, French, and English clarinet models and listened to him play Sonata No. 1 for Clarinet and bass on a 6 key boxwood clarinet:

Andrew Simon’s Recital #1

Andrew Simon blew me away in both of his performances, but I was particularly excited for his first recital because he was playing the International Clarinet Associations clarinet competition repertoire(indicated with an *). He and his pianist, Tomaoko Kashiwagi played:

Cantilene for Clarinet and Piano by Louis Cahuzac

Sonata for Clarinet and Piano by Camile Saint-Saens

I. Allegretto

II. Allegro animato

III. Lento

IV. Molto allegro- Allegretto

Sonata for Clarinet and Piano by Francis Poulenc

I. Allegro tristamente

II. Romanza*

III. Allegro con fuoco

Suit for “Carmen” trans. Richard Stolzman by George Bizet

Sequidilla

Gypsy Dance

Each piece was a unique and amazing experience. I am so grateful for the opportunity to listen to him play classical french clarinet repertoire.

Master Classes

After Nophachai’s performance and lecture, everyone divided up to participate in their master classes. Their were master classes for Junior High Students, High School Students, All State Qualifiers, and a master class on customized clarinets led by Wolfgang Lohf. I participated in the All State Qualifiers Master Class led by Nophachai.

In the All State Master Class, we worked on applying different rhythms to better practice our c minor thirds and played our etude. Their were about 25 people in the master class from across Arkansas and each of us played one life of the etude and were given tips on how to better execute the piece. A lot of us got comments on air. With out strong air, you wont sound confident or have a good tone. Confidence and tone are key to a perfect audition.

Andrew Simon’s Master Class

After our lunch break, Andrew Simon gave a series of master classes to University clarinetist from the University of Arkansas, the University of Central Arkansas, and Arkansas Tech University.

Clarinet Day, University of Arkansas, Clarinet, clarinet, andrew simon
Andrew Simon and Madison Smith

While watching these master classes I learned a lot about breathing, phrasing, and throat tones. Andrew Simon made lots of comments on the importance of understanding breath marks in reference to rhythms and phrasing. If you breath at the wrong time you can be changing rhythms and breaking up a phrase. I had never really thought about how taking breaths in music can actually change the way it sounds, but through listening to him play the same phrase 3 times and breathing at different spots, I was amazed to hear that ir really did change the feel and phrasing of the excerpt. Throat tones are just another beast all together. I find that no matter what I do, my throat tones never sound they way I want them to. Andrew Simon addressed several things in reference to throat tones. One was to be sure to not over blow the notes in an attempt to correct them because it will have the opposite effect and make the notes sound even worse. He also noted to be sure that you aren’t covering the F key with your left thumb while playing B Flat with the register key because it will affect the pitch. To avoid this, he suggested to exaggerate your fingerings and or get your key rings adjusted. But I think the most important thing he stressed in his master classes was playing your etudes and pieces all the way through at the end of each of your practice sessions. This allows you to find the parts that are still tripping you up so that you know what to practice next time, and makes sure that the first time you play the piece all the way through isn’t the day you are performing it on stage or in the audition room.

Andrew Simon’s Recital #2

At the end of the day, Andrew Simon performed a second recital including:

Introduction, Theme and Variations bu Gioachino Rossini

Sonata for Clarinet and Piano by Malcolm Arnold

A Set for Clarinet by Donald Martino

Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in Eflat by Johannes Brahms

I. Allegro con brio

II. Andantino

III. Furioso

Diversions on a Familiar Theme by Joseph Horovitz

Andrew Simon never ceased to impress me. But m favorite pieces he played were not in the program. I loved his two encore pieces. He played some classic New  York Jazz music for his encore that blew me away. Luckily for you I have uploaded his entire second recital you YouTube that you can watch here  or on my videos page.

Overall I had an amazing time performing with the clarinet studio, taking master classes, meeting Andrew Simon, and of course getting out of school.  I highly recommend that you look into finding events near you that are free and go learn and have fun. If you are interested in attending Clarinet Day next year, check out the University of Arkansas web page here.