Kaneland students spend summer pursuing musical endeavors

By on August 29, 2014

by Denise Blaszynski
President, Kaneland Performing Arts Boosters

For most teenagers, summer vacation means trips to the mall, hanging out with friends and catching up on sleep. This summer, many Kaneland music students sacrificed some of their free time to engage in musical endeavors.

The Kaneland community is ideally situated within driving distance of dozens of music- or theatre-related camps held on college campuses or at privately-owned arts education institutions. These programs or camps focus on music, art, theatre, dance or creative writing. Some are for commuters; while others house the students in dorms for anywhere from five to 10 days.

Traditionally, music camps are taught by prominent professional and collegiate musicians, as well as award-winning music educators who provide motivational and music instruction for middle and high school students. Several Kaneland students used their Booster scholarships to help pay for attendance at these camps. As many students will attest to, attending a music camp also helps motivate them for the upcoming school year and beyond.

This past July, five KHS choir students spent the day at Sing! Workshop for teens, hosted by the St. Charles Singers. Their day was spent focusing on vocal technique and listening skills necessary to good ensemble singing. The students worked with the most experienced and talented chamber singers in the area, including our KHS choir director, Mr. Bryan Kunstman.

A concert in the evening concluded the day’s events. In addition, Kunstman held a Madrigal/IMEA Camp for his choir students. In the morning session, students prepared for the upcoming IMEA audition on Oct. 7 at Addison Trail High School. The afternoon session for Madrigal students was filled with preparing scales, triads and chord progressions, and to develop tonal skills. Students also learned a few songs for this coming year to practice for perfection.

Our KHS drum majors dedicated part of their summer to attend drum major camps. In mid-July, our two newest KHS drum majors attended the Smith Walbridge Drum Major Camp at Eastern Illinois University. Founded in 1949, Smith Walbridge was the first camp in the United States to specialize in instruction related to various marching band activities. More than 300 students from all over the country attended this camp led by instructors from top college marching band programs.

The six-day program included morning sessions on marching basics, focusing on pedagogy of teaching; learning sets of commands and perfecting them with squads; elective classes; twice-daily conducting classes; and sessions on leadership and motivational techniques. It was an exhausting week, yet both KHS drum majors shared they had the time of their lives. The Kaneland Performing Arts Boosters funded part of the tuition associated with this camp. Our second-year drum major, who attended Smith Walbridge last year, attended the State Summer Symposium Drum Major Camp, held at Illinois State University. This weekend workshop integrated modern and traditional techniques with score study and leadership training. It’s a safe bet that our KHS Marching Band is in good hands.

For decades Kaneland has been considered football country. Yet there’s been another group training hard—the KHS Marching Knights. High school band members spent two weeks (40 hours the first week and 16 hours the second week) with band directors Aaron Puckett, Rebecca Andersen and guest directors prepping for the upcoming marching season—and it’s a lot more than just learning the school fight song.

Bright and early on Aug. 4, 100 band members arrived to spend the first two mornings without their instruments, learning marching basics, position of attention, different exercises and drills—all the formations and movements that will be part of their field show. Following a brief lunch break, students broke into groups representing sections of the band, including woodwinds, brass, drumline and color guard to rehearse the music for the show. At the conclusion of each day’s events, the band would come together to rehearse all music, and then it would be back outside for more marching.

This fall, the KHS Marching Knights will appear at all home football games, march in four parades, and participate in one marching exhibition and three competitions.

While our KHS Marching Knights were busy on the field, another band camp was held at Harter Middle School for incoming sixth-grade musicians. During camp, students attended 45-minute classes with sixth-grade Band Director Dan Zielinski, grouped by instrument type, every morning for two weeks. This offered students an opportunity to get “up and running” on an instrument, which resulted in faster progress, as well as increased interest, effort and success (also, this camp was just plain fun).

The Kaneland Music program will undoubtedly benefit from the time and effort these students have put in over the summer months. Community members are invited to attend concerts, exhibitions and field shows throughout the year. This information can be found on the Kaneland Performing Arts Boosters’ Facebook page.

For more information about the Kaneland Performing Arts Boosters, send an email to: info@knightmusic.org. The Kaneland Performing Arts Boosters is a registered 501c3 organization.

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