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Summer music program prepares students for future

By Rachel Wisinski

Students from across the country attended the Jacobs School’s 66th annual Summer Music Clinic, June 10-16.

The international appeal allowed students from 15 different states and Seoul, South Korea, to attend.

Jeffrey Gershman, IU associate director of bands and director of the Summer Music Clinic, said 250 people, including students and assisting faculty and staff, attended the longest running summer camp in IU history.

“The faculty and counselors are really remarkable,” Gershman said. “Personal connection is a giant thing, and they make it comfortable, so it feels very much like a family. That is a big part of the success.”

For the first time, the clinic was held during IU’s Summer Music Festival. This provided the opportunity for participating students to hear Jacobs students perform in a much different setting than they are used to, Gershman said.

“They will be immersed in the culture here, and that’s going to be really special,” he said. “Maybe they haven’t been to an orchestra concert before or haven’t heard anything at this caliber. I think their minds are going to be blown, and I think they will remember this for a long time.”

The camp is usually during the gap week between when IU students have completed summer sessions and when the fall semester begins.

“It’s been a giant challenge to try to get us worked into the fabric of the Jacobs School,” Gershman said. “As far as rooms, we use about 50, plus the other classes need them.”

Besides preparing for their final performance, the kids are able to take one-week course electives of their choice, including conducting, composition or leadership classes, Gershman said.

Scott Stewart, senior lecturer and director of wind studies at Emory University in Atlanta, has helped with the clinic since 1987.

Working his way up the ranks, he began as a counselor when he attended IU as an undergraduate. In 1996 and 1997, he worked as a manager until his promotion to faculty member.

“They’re incredibly enthusiastic and eager to learn,” Stewart said. “These kids are polite, respectful, engaged and interested to learn about the music. It’s a joy to teach them.”

Gershman said due to economic stipulations, short, intensive camps are becoming rarer. However, a lot of campers return year after year because it becomes a high point of their summer.

“There aren’t many of these left, and it’s important that the clinic begins to
grow and evolve,” Gershman said.

Upon arriving, students engaged in auditions that determined which ensemble they would perform with: the Crimson or Cream band or the Symphony Orchestra.

On Thursday night, selected high school students performed an Honors Recital and Jazz Ensemble.

On Saturday, the students showcased what they learned in their sections during a Music Clinic Finale concert conducted by Jeffrey Boeckman, Stephen Pratt and Eric Smedley.

“This is one of the most educational and inspiring music camps in the country,” Stewart said. “I enjoy the quality of the students and faculty and maintaining my ties with the Jacobs School of Music.

The clinic keeps one foot in tradition and one in innovation.”

Former directors Frederick Ebbs, Ray Cramer and Pratt established “a world-class summer experience for high school students,” Stewart said.

“They all come from different backgrounds and levels of experience, so we start with the fundamentals,” Stewart said.

“Then we help them move forward, erase bad habits, reinforce the good habits, and all of them learn new concepts of playing their instruments and music making in general.”

IU junior Bailey Petersma did not attend the clinic when she was in high school, but she took part in the Summer Percussion Academy at the Jacobs School, which helped her decide to come to IU, she said.

“You get to see incredible performances that you don’t get exposed to just anywhere,” Petersma said. “It’s an awesome experience.”

She was a residential counselor, which was a paid position that helped ensure the campers followed the rules in Forest Residence Center.

Gershman chose Petersma for the position from a batch of hopeful applicants.
As a music education major, Petersma said she really enjoyed working with the younger kids.

“It’s fun hearing them talk about how much they’re learning and talking about IU and how much they love it,” Petersma said.

“It’s fun to see them develop and to watch rehearsals and how the conductors work with the ensembles. Seeing them working with high schoolers is a treat to see how they interact with them. We learn strategies for when we end up teaching high school. It’s great.”

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