Today was an absolutely gorgeous day at the Music for All Summer Symposium. Today on the must-see list was watching the Music Production Boot Camp students up close and in action. The video team and I got to spend some time talking with Christoph Thompson, Division Head for the Music Production Boot Camp, and there is truly nothing like this experience for these students. This division is small but mighty, because each student gets hands-on, real world experience working with some of the best sound equipment in the world. They’re not just standing around watching a teacher push buttons, they get to actually manipulate the sound boards and record on their own mixers. It’s astounding to see all of the amazing opportunities the Summer Symposium provides that I wish I had when I was in high school.

I headed over to the Middle School Concert Band division to observe some of their team-building exercises and also talk to some of the campers. You can see how much they are able to think critically and apply everything they’re learning to their music. For example, the kids play a game in which they have to learn to share the spotlight and they can see the connection between the games they are playing and playing in an ensemble when it comes to everyone getting a turn to solo.

After lunch, I headed back over to Middle School to observe Arris Golden and Chris Gleason in action, alongside composer-in-residence, William Owens. I could’ve stayed and talked with the three of them all day. They bring such a lightness to a room and to the ensembles they are working with. You can tell they care so much about making sure the kids are getting something out of the music as well as enjoying themselves. Watching William Owens rehearse his original composition with the Wisconsin Band was second to none. You could see the kids hanging on to everything he was saying and then turn around and apply it. That is such an important skill to learn and it’s incredible these musicians are getting that opportunity so young.

I rounded out my day by watching members of our Concert Band Division perform with the United States Army Field Band & Chorus. The awe on their faces when that last note filled the auditorium and the crowd went absolutely insane for them is something that will go down on my list as one of the top five moments of my camp experience this year. The opportunity to play with an ensemble like this is like none other because many of these kids won’t ever get to perform for a packed house, let alone sit next to a professional musician, in the armed services no less, and do what they do best. It fills me with so much pride to know that I had a small hand in seeing those kids have a truly positively life-changing experience and I can’t wait to see that again for marching band students tomorrow night.

Keep following our coverage of the 2018 Music for All Summer Symposium on our social media and use the hashtag #mfacamp18.