We have a big summer camp announcement coming up soon! It is time for a photo blog in honor of our upcoming announcement! Please enjoy the slide show below. Unfortunately, we could not control the direction that the pictures are rotated.
Part 1: Instrument Demonstrations
Spring is here, and band directors every where are busy recruiting new students for their program. It is the time of year for 5th grade assemblies that feature band and orchestra instrument demonstrations followed by noisy and chaotic instrument fittings. Instrument demonstrations and fittings are exciting for everyone involved, but it can also be a source of frustration because there is a lot of pressure to help students pick the right instrument for them--one that could potentially shape their career and enrich their lives. Anything less could damage a student's experience in music. Students who have a positive and meaningful experience in school band become life-long music makers and supporters of the arts, but the opposite is equally true and equally damaging to the future of classical music in the 21st century.
Participating in band instrument demonstrations and fittings in the Cincinnati-Dayton area in the last few years has given me a better perspective on starting students. I have seen band directors emphasize several key guidelines to help students pick an instrument:
1. Students should pick an instrument based on the sound that they like the most
2. Students should pick an instrument that fits them physically (Although, the tuba doesn't really fit any 5th grader)
3. Students should pick their new instrument based on what they feel like they were "born" to play
4. There are no male or female instruments
5. All instruments can play in different styles and characters (movie themes or otherwise)
The biggest issue facing a musician that is called on to demonstrate their instrument is highlighting the ways in which it is unique from the other instruments. It seems obvious to me, but I've been playing my instrument since I was 12. While I think that the double reed instruments are the best by far, that kind of presentation is misleading and ultimately detrimental to ensuring that students have positive and meaningful musical experiences.
Surprisingly, there are different schools of thought on demonstrations. Should professionals be hired? Should older students demonstrate for younger students? Should demonstrators play pop tunes, movie themes, or "classical" music? I advocate for using professional musicians who are also experienced in working with middle school students to demonstrate their instrument. That way, students can hear mature sound and technique through someone who is able to communicate with younger audiences. Technical jargon and long speeches about physics or mechanics are lost on 5th graders. If you use a lot of new terms or speak for too long, you will lose their attention span and any potential interest in your instrument. A fifth grade class doesn't need to know what an embouchure is and how it works to understand how the double reed is different from the single reed or no reed at all.
What music should be played is a more controversial issue. While 99% of students will recognize pop tunes and movie themes, that is sort of a misrepresentation of what their school music careers will look like. More students will play twinkle twinkle little star than Adele, so playing the latest hit song on any single instrument seems like bait and switch to me. Yes, they will be captivated, and yes, they will remember you, but it taints their concept of what instrument they like going into the fittings.
The music should be memorable and it should either be singable or exciting. If each instrument is only allowed three selections, then they should be three things that show different extremes of what the instrument can do. As an oboist, I usually play the Snake Charmer to create a personal connection between the students and the oboe. Not all students can name the tune, but it is something that they have heard before that is commonly associated with the oboe. Then I pick two contrasting selections: a lyrical melody and a technical selection. This year, I picked the solo from Bach's Ich habe genug for the lyrical and the C minor Ferling etude (no. 28) for the technical selection. Both show off what the oboe is known for, both are pieces that students could play before their school music career ends, and both create a distinct impression.
Young minds deserve the best possible material to absorb. A demonstration could be their first and last experience with your instrument, so make sure that it is accurate, authentic, and has integrity. Think about what ideas should be communicated verbally and how to transition from one selection to the next because the verbal communication is just as important as the musical communication.
Stay tuned for part 2 on conducting instrument fittings on the oboe.
We are currently developing a page specifically for double reed resources and learning opportunities. Here is a taste of available opportunities. Additional resources for camps and classes will be coming soon!
Queen City Double Reed Camp
DATE: July 21-25, 2014
LOCATION: Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio
HOST: Double or Nothing Ensemble
TUITION: Day Campers - $375, Residential Campers - $625
During this energy-filled, highly motivating camp, students of all ability levels will be challenged and inspired by our accomplished double reed staff. Queen City Double Reed Camp is a unique opportunity in the Midwest for double reed students to spend a whole week immersed in musically enriching and mentally engaging activities related specifically to their instrument. At the end of Queen City Double Reed Camp, our students return to their homes and school music programs with new friends, new mentors, new challenges, and a strong desire to make more music and to have more fun doing it.
Throughout the week, students will have the opportunity to: Participate in master classes, Learn basic reed making techniques, Play chamber music, Receive small group and individual instruction, Perform in a culminating recital. Our guests in 2013 included: Lon Bussell (Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra), Carol Aufman (Bassoonist with Richmond Symphony and Bassoon Teacher at CCM Preparatory Department), Mark Ostoich (Professor of Oboe, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music), Julie Fuqua (Free Lance Oboist and Music Educator)
Midwest Oboe and Bassoon Camp
DATE: June 15-20, 2014
LOCATION: Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio
HOST: Lisa Sayre, Lisa Grove, Joe Hesseman
Midwest Oboe Camp is a comprehensive residency camp dedicated to the education of double reed players. While at camp, students will be exposed daily to our staff of professional double reed artists through a variety of master classes, private lessons, reed making classes, and chamber music coaching. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced, our camp is designed to meet your needs and help you grow as an oboist or bassoonist as well as a musician.
Special Guest for the week is Dr. Mark Ostoich, Professor of Oboe University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music
Bocal Majority Bassoon Camp and Operation O.B.O.E. Camp
DATE: June 15-20, 2014
LOCATION: Miami University in Oxford, Ohio
HOST: Christin Schillinger, professor of bassoon, Andrea Ridilla, professor of oboe, & Bocal Majority
TUITION: $295 for commuter students, $595 for residential
This is a great event to come learn reed-making and adjusting, play some great double-reed chamber music and get to work with some amazing faculty members and guest artists! Residential students get to stay in the lovely and modern Maplestreet dorm in double occupancy, air-conditioned rooms. Adult male and female RAs stay in the dorms for 24 access and supervision, including our camp manager. There will be an all-camp recital on the last day of camp. Friends and family are invited to attend.
Robert Atherholt Masterclass Series
DATE: May 28-31, 2014
LOCATION: Ball State University
HOST: Aryn Sweeney
TUITION: $500 Participant, $300 Auditor
Ball State University’s School of Music is proud to host the impressive teacher and oboist Robert Atherholt. Join us for four full days of classes! The series will close with a recital by Atherholt on May 31 at 7:30 p.m. in Sursa Performance Hall.
Learn from one of the most highly respected orchestral oboists in the world. Throughout the four-day event, Atherholt will coach participants on orchestral literature and solo repertoire for the English horn. There will also be plenty of time for questions and answers on topics such as instruments, equipment, and audition and practice techniques.
Atherholt will walk participants through his process and share some invaluable insights for improved reed making. Reeds will be inspected and worked on under a projector to provide every attendee an extremely close vantage point.
Learn valuable methods of repair and maintenance from Indianapolis-based Carlos Coelho, one of the world’s leading oboe and English horn repair and restoration masters. Coelho will give instruction on adjusting your instruments as well as provide useful tips on common maintenance issues.
The series will also offer daily classes on body movement. Unleash your full potential by eliminating tension in your playing.
Music Institute of Chicago: 2014 Oboe Boot Camp
DATE: June 9-13, 2014
LOCATION: Winnetka Campus
HOST: Crystal Hall & Erica Anderson
Have you ever wanted to know more about how to play in tune, fix your own reeds, and have a chance to try out the English horn? Well, here's your chance! Come to MIC Oboe Boot Camp! Participants learn how to make reeds, play chamber music, and the secrets of terrific oboe performing, all while having a great time! If you want to improve your oboe playing, come to this camp!
Camp activities will include the following: Playing in daily workshops on oboe-specific topics: improving dynamic control, tuning, tone production, audition success, improving technique, sight-reading, and more! Trying the English horn and oboe d'amore! Exploring music in a different way through composing and instrument creation. Playing oboe chamber music (trios, quartets). Learing how to make oboe reeds and process cane! Participating in the end-of-camp recital!
When there are so many options for summer enrichment and education, why should students and parents consider the Queen City Double Reed Camp?
Queen City Double Reed Camp is a unique opportunity in the Midwest for double reed students to spend a whole week immersed in musically enriching and mentally engaging activities related specifically to their instrument. At the end of Queen City Double Reed Camp, our students return to their homes and school music programs with new friends, new mentors, new challenges, and a strong desire to make more music and to have more fun doing it.
Reasons your student should attend Queen City Double Reed Camp:
The 2014 Queen City Double Reed Camp will be July 21-25 on the campus of Cincinnati's Xavier University. Please visit our camp website for more information about our faculty and the registration process: http://www.queencitydoublereedcamp.com/
*Cost of attending a professional performance is included in the overnight camp tuition fee. Day campers are encouraged to participate, but there will be an extra cost to attend the scheduled performance.
In a recent conversation with one of my neighbors, I mentioned that I just returned from a week of working with students at Midwest Oboe Camp in Gambier, Ohio. As an oboist and private teacher, the idea of oboe camp never seemed odd or unusual, but my neighbors made it clear that oboe camp is not something that everyone is familiar with.
So what is oboe camp and why should your student go to oboe camp? Those are both great questions! Many students go to some form of camp during the summer, but oboe camp stands apart from any other type of camp. Midwest Oboe Camp is geared towards students of all ages and experience levels. The only requirement is one year of study in the oboe through school music programs or private instruction. Oboe camp is a unique experience for young oboists to be immersed in all aspects of the oboe including performance, private instruction, maintenance and repair, reed-making, chamber music, and technique specific to the oboe.
In the small town of Gambier, Ohio, Kenyon College is the home of the Midwest Oboe Camp. The beautiful campus creates the impression of a vacation for students and faculty, but both students and faculty work diligently over the course of the week in masterclasses, rehearsals, and private lessons.
The Midwest Oboe Camp faculty includes Camp Director Julie Grasso as well as Professors Robert Sorton, Bailey Sorton, and Lisa Sayre. Midwest Oboe Camp Director, Julie Grasso, is a Yamaha Performing Artist and has been performing and teaching as a professional oboist for twenty five years. She is a founding member of a reed business, Double or Nothing Reeds, as well as a double reed quartet, Double or Nothing Ensemble, in residence at Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH.
Robert Sorton is Professor of Oboe at The Ohio State University, where he founded OBOHIO, The Double Reed Consort. Following a position with the Miami Philharmonic, he was Assistant Principal Oboe of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for fourteen years. He has also performed with orchestras such as Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony, the Columbus Symphony and the Charlotte Symphony.
Also a founding member of OBOHIO, Bailey Sorton has performed extensively in North America and Europe. Mrs. Sorton is an active educator in Ohio, teaching applied oboe at Kenyon College and Mount Vernon Nazarene University. At Kenyon, she also teaches bassoon and recorder and coaches the woodwind chamber ensembles.
Lisa Sayre is Adjunct Professor of Oboe at Reinhardt University as well as the University of West Georgia. Lisa was a member of the U.S. Air Force Band of Flight and is also a founding member of the Oxford Oboes Camp in Georgia.
We had a lot of fun working with students and watching them mature as musicians. While you can expect some level of general silliness when young oboists live and work together for one week, students are also engaged in cooperative learning activities during which they learn leadership skills as well as how to work as a team. Campers are also challenged with unique opportunities for rich musical development and personal growth.
Campers have the opportunity to work with our renowned teachers in masterclasses, lessons, and rehearsals, but they also develop critical-thinking, problem-solving, and leadership skills through performances and chamber music rehearsals. Students are divided into trios and quartets and given the opportunity to pick music and rehearse for a student chamber recital.
Chamber music experience can be gained in a variety of settings including school music programs and other fine arts camps, but chamber music at Midwest Oboe Camp involves working with other oboe players! A lot of the conversation that takes place between campers within the first couple days of camp is about their schools. Many of our campers admit that they are the only oboe player in their grade level, school music program, or even the only oboe player in their school district. Through chamber music, campers work with other oboe players that have similar levels of ability and experience. This is an invaluable opportunity for students who may not see or work with other oboe players on a regular basis.
Campers spend two hours daily preparing a variety of trios for three oboes or for two oboes and English horn, but they also have an opportunity to play in a large double reed ensemble with both oboes and English horns. On the final morning of camp, students give a recital for the faculty and parents. The program includes the small chamber music ensembles as well as a large ensemble performance. For this year’s culminating recital, our campers, along with their counselors, performed Doug Harville’s arrangement of the first movement from Dvorak’s New World Symphony followed by New York Girls by Charles Sayre.
While our students study formally with our faculty, they spend the entire day interacting with our camp counselors, who bring their own unique experiences and perspectives to the table. Doug Harville, our boys’ counselor, is originally from Louisville, KY and is currently working on a Bachelor in Music Education at Furman University where he studies oboe with Professor Petrea Warneck. Our girls’ counselor is Julie Collins. Originally from Marietta, GA, Julie is currently working on her Doctorate of Musical Arts with Dr. Mark Ostoich at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. From seeking shelter during tornado warnings to organizing parties and movie nights for campers, Midwest Counselors do a lot more than make sure that students arrive at their classes on time. Doug and Julie also coach chamber rehearsals, teach reed-making and lessons, and they are always there with a smile on their face to lend a helping hand.
Another unique learning opportunity for our campers includes two hours of hands on experience with reed-making every day! We don’t just demonstrate reed-making techniques. Our camp boasts instructors who make and sell reeds for a living, so our campers are getting instruction from skilled reed-makers. Reed-making is another activity for students of all levels! Experienced students have an opportunity to refine their knife technique. At the same time, students with no prior experience receive their first reed-making kit and go home with something that makes a sound in their instrument. While we cannot guarantee that all students will become master reed-makers in the course of a one week camp, we can promise that willing students will go home with a
deeper understanding of reed-making.
Oboe campers meet and work with guests like Sarah Thelen, an oboe maker with Fox, as well as Professor Robert Sorton from The Ohio State University and Bailey Sorton from Kenyon College. Campers learn about topics usually reserved for college students and professionals. They discuss instrument building and repair as well as oboe related topics that their band directors have little experience with: harmonic fingerings, high note fingerings, double tonguing, oboe technique, trill fingerings, adjustments, and repertoire.
Masterclass is occasionally interrupted by celebrity guests too! (Hint: He’s fuzzy, red, and giggles more than a middle school girl!)
Midwest campers spend an entire week in a different form of cultural immersion. They learn from and live with professional oboe players, college students and graduate students as well as oboe players their own age. Usually just being an oboe player qualifies as a unique bond between two people, but our campers grow much closer to each other through playing chamber music, rooming together, playing vicious card games, and spending quality time in severe weather shelters during tornado warnings.
Campers attend a faculty recital, but on the last morning of camp, students perform their own recital for each other and for their parents. Then, they return to their homes and school music programs with new friends, new mentors, new challenges, and a strong desire to make more music and to have more fun doing it.
Make plans now to join us for Midwest Oboe Camp in 2014!