This week I had the pleasure of serving on the faculty of the Crane Youth Music Summer Camp. This two week camp offers middle school and high school students the opportunity to work with the master musicians in a two-week intensive music festival. Students play in one of four major ensembles, a small ensemble (mostly like-instruments), sing in the all-camp choir, play in one of two jazz groups, and take classes in theory, history, or technique, in addition to participating in masterclasses every morning presented by professional musicians and members of the Crane School of Music faculty.
For these two weeks I’m working as the Percussion Assistant. I am the assistant to Kyle Peters, a Crane Alumnus and recent graduate of the Eastman School of Music with a Master’s degree in Percussion Performance. Both Kyle and I studied under Jim Petercsak (JP) at Crane. JP is a legend among the percussion community; he is a former president of the Percussive Arts Society, has co-published method books, and performed with musicians of the highest caliber.
At the Crane Youth Music (CYM) Camp, I’m in charge of coordinating the organization and transportation of instruments. I also conduct the Crane Youth Music Percussion Ensemble and assist in presenting the daily Masterclasses.
This week focused on presenting basic technique classes to our nine percussion students. We discuss snare drum grip and how the technique translates to other areas of percussion. We warm up with single strokes, a paradiddle routine, a flam routine a buzz-roll routine: all hallmarks of JP’s percussion method. Each day we focus on a new section of percussion. We’ve discussed snare drum, two-mallet technique, four-mallet technique, timpani, and drum set. Next week’s agenda includes Latin percussion, more drum set, auxiliary instruments, orchestral excerpts, and learning how to conduct a studio performance and give criticism.
This Friday, June 30th, I got to perform with the All-Star Big Band under the direction of Wally Siebel. This group is composed of professional musicians and educators who convene to play a series of shows each summer during this camp. Joining the band this year was Nick Marchione, who plays lead trumpet with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. I played hand drums on a few bossa nova charts and was featured in an open solo on Marchione’s own arrangement of New Ground.
This next week promises a concert series with the Orchestra of Northern New York, including a performance of an audience expected to number in the thousands in Watertown, New York. We’ll be playing a set of patriotic tunes standard to the Fourth of July festivities. This year’s series in Big Band themed. We will be premiering a brand new work by Brett Zvacek, jazz professor at the Crane School of Music, entitled Sincerely Sinatra as well as playing a piece Zvacek wrote for the orchestra back a few years ago named Deep, Fascinating Things. These tunes will be accompanied by Duke Ellington!, A Salute to Big Bands! and the theme from New York, New York. I’ll be playing the drum set part on all of these pieces. The Watertown performance of this concert will feature howitzer cannons from Fort Drum on Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, surely a crowd favorite. ONNY Summer Pops Concert Poster
The Crane Youth Music Summer Camp is a great way for young musicians to hone their skills. This camp pushes students to do their best while they also create life-long friendships. Students looking to pursue music in college get a chance to “test drive” the Crane School of Music and see how impressive it’s faculty is. I’m glad to be a part of this program, and I’m having a blast teaching, performing, and sharing my love for music with the next generation.