Wind instruments tuning, new friendships blooming, students crooning, while the speed of teacher techniques continued zooming. The productive time of year has rolled around again for the band program to flock into Atholton’s green hallways and top-notch auditorium after hours for elongated practices, gratifying food breaks, performances and guests musicians that bring them closer together and improve their skills as musicians.
Atholton’s Wind Ensemble and Symphonic band hosted their annual Winter Band Camp, led by their band teacher, Mr. Eric Posner, on February 22nd and 23rd at Atholton to learn new techniques from guest instructors and musicians.
The guest musicians consisted of members from the Army Field Band out of Fort Meade and a few former Howard County music teachers. To kick off the event, the Towson Brass Quartet performed four music selections to inspire the band students and encouraged the students to pursue their musical endeavors in the future.
“If you know the people around you, you’re going to have more fun playing the music,” said Mr. Posner, “You’re going to want to play the music well for them.”
Mr. Posner’s primary goal of coming together was accomplished after the students returned to school on Friday evening from 4 pm to 9 pm and then a second day of instructional time on Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm. During school hours, band students only have 50 minutes in the classroom with Mr. Posner to fit in a quick musical rehearsal without any one-on-one time. At band camp, it is easy for students to ask any questions valuable to their growth as a musician and have their questions answered. Further, Mr. Posner is not an expert at every instrument in the band’s composition, so it was crucial for these individual sectional leaders to come to give the students additional guidance.
Some students had no idea what to expect from the experience because it was their first band camp, and others were excited to reap the benefits of coming together with their fellow bandmates in order to improve as a group. Altholton’s band is now expected to show off their newly inherited skills and knowledge from the camp.
Senior Lev Axler summed up the event as a place for band students to delve deeper into their music and pick up new techniques. He especially enjoyed the joint masterclass with band director from George Mason University, Dr. Dennis Layendecker because they met in a small group and “intimate environment” where they got amazing advice from him.
French horn player for Army Field Band, former music teacher and staff sergeant Steph Selena Maytum, has been playing the horn longer than these band students have been alive. She shared a lot of useful wisdom that will be used by every student she connected with.
Erik Franklin, an instrumentalist in the Army Field Band, explained how their band does educational outreach in hopes that students will see music as a career path for them and not just “something a few people get to do.” And although a majority of the students enjoyed these aspects of the event, one student, in particular, had an amusing take on the time they spent at school the past weekend.
“You know, a normal class is less time, right, but here we’ve got a lot of time,” said junior Andrew McNamara. “Too much time, some might say, but it’s a lot of time as opposed to small time.” You may have to read that a few times to understand what he said, but you get the point.
To close out the event, parents were invited to an “Informance” put on by band students where they demonstrated their growth with the guest instructors. Wind Ensemble performed with Mr. Andrew Sprang, the band director from Folly Quarter Middle School. Symphonic Band performed with Dr. Layendecker.
Mr. Posner explained that any student with a passion for music should be comforted knowing there are plenty of opportunities out in the world for you to pursue that dream. His goal is “not just to create composers and performers,” but to encourage all his students to be passionate about the arts and carry it through their life in some form.
The 2019 Winter Band Camp was a huge success and there is much more in store for next year’s agenda. “I have three guests booked already for 2020,” Mr. Posner said.