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Sound but not asleep

Camp opens summer at Mizzou on a high note

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  • Story by Karen Pojmann
  • Photos by Shane Epping
  • Published: June 11, 2008
Michael Knight directing

Michael Knight, MU's associate director of bands, conducts junior high school musicians during the first Mizzou Band Camp rehearsal of the 2008 season.

Anyone who thinks the University of Missouri quiets down for the summer hasn’t walked by Jesse Auditorium lately. There, Mizzou Band Camp is in full swing — and jazz, world beat, classical — with 50 secondary-school students fine-tuning their instrumental music skills first thing every morning. June and July might mean tranquil vacation time for some Mizzou students and faculty, but for the pre-university crowd, it means an action-packed preview of campus life.

Pumping up the volume

Now in its 16th year, Mizzou Band Camp gives young musicians in grades 6-12 the chance to hone their chops with university faculty, staff and students in ensembles and one-on-one sessions — all orchestrated through the patient guidance and animated conducting techniques of Michael Knight, Mizzou’s associate director of bands.

“It’s a fun part of the summer,” says Knight, who also directs Marching Mizzou and the MU Symphonic Band. “Sometimes you see shy students come out of their shells. You see students who have never had the opportunity to play with a large group of musicians before have that experience and grow. You see them take pride in how much they can accomplish in a short amount of time.”

Short indeed. In each camp session, students have a mere five days to prep for a large-ensemble concert in Jesse Auditorium, the culmination of their daily morning rehearsals. The fast-paced program challenges the young musicians, some of whom are sixth-graders with only one year of band experience behind them.

Helping to group campers by age and ability, the program runs in two separate weeklong sessions, one for junior high students (grades 6-9) and one for high school students (grades 10-12). The students compete for chair placement, but no audition is required for camp admission.

Addressing individual needs and interests, the camp’s afternoon music options include private lessons, master classes, sectional rehearsals and a jazz ensemble. Each student can take two enrichment courses, choosing from basic band conducting; percussion and world music; and music theory and appreciation.

Tooting Mizzou’s horn

Trombone Players

Mizzou Band Camp counselor Erik Dancy (left) and young trombonists Michael Hawke and Josephine Miller rehearse for the junior high ensemble's concert, set for 7:30 p.m. June 13 in Jesse Auditorium. A high school session starts June 15.

Mizzou Band Camp serves multiple purposes, Knight says. It offers summer enrichment for kids in Missouri as well as kids from other states — attracting participants from places as far flung as Alaska. It provides a teaching lab for the Mizzou students who work as camp counselors, most of whom are music-education majors and many of whom attended the camp themselves. It also plays an instrumental role in university recruitment.

“We have a lot of students we have recruited over the years who started as summer band campers and are now students enrolled here,” Knight says.

Some campers pay it forward even further: “A lot of them have gone on to become teachers,” Knight says.

Beyond facilitating their musical growth, the band camp experience helps junior high and high school students learn what to expect from college life. During camp, the musicians can stay on campus in Responsibility Hall and eat in campus dining facilities. In the evenings, they attend concerts, recitals and organized social activities — all under the watchful eyes of Mizzou staff.

At the end of each session, parents, friends and other music lovers are invited to a finale concert before the campers go home. Hear it for yourself. The junior high band camp ensemble performs at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 13, in Jesse Auditorium, and the high school ensemble performs at 7:30 p.m. the following Friday, June 20, in Jesse Auditorium.

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Last updated: Feb. 22, 2012