Less sleep, a less active social life, to-go meals and to-do lists can be expected during finals week, especially for band students preparing for their concerts.
Second-year music student Ronnie McPherson plays in both Jazz and Concert bands and said this is the reality for him and those who play alongside him. “I’ve lost a lot of friendships and I don’t do a lot other than school,” he said, “but I know this is what I need to do to succeed in what I want.”
Second-year music student Will Gaines said time management of practicing an instrument is similar to homework in typical classes. “It’s not enforced, it’s just understood that in order to excel everyone needs to be practicing outside of rehearsal,” he said.
Jazz Band is a smaller audition group of about two dozen with two or three performances each quarter. Concert Band, however, is no-cut, twice as big and has one performance. Both bands are open to students and community members.
McPherson plays tuba in Concert Band, bass trombone in Jazz Band, sings in the Chorale and plans to earn Clark’s new music transfer degree. Gaines plays percussion in Concert Band and baritone saxophone in Jazz Band.
Band director Rich Inouye said members meet up by sections of instrument for group-rehearsals outside of class. Inouye said this is harder with Concert Band because of how large the group is, but Jazz Band sections are able to meet one or two hours each week.
Gaines said performances are graded on attendance of set-up, sound check, performance and tear-down. Attendance is important in the Jazz Band because it has fewer members, he said.
Gaines said if a student doesn’t pre-arrange an absence with Inouye for a Jazz Band concert, their grade could drop by almost a letter or have scholarships revoked.
Band students also submit self and peer evaluations based on listening to recordings of the performances. Gaines said they listen to the recordings as a group, but it’s also expected to be completed on their own time.
Inouye said band members benefit from performing because they work as a team, increase their skills on their instruments and create a deeper appreciation for music.
McPherson said performance is an opportunity to tell a story with his band-mates. Gaines said performances help students show the community, their director and themselves what they’ve accomplished that quarter.
McPherson said the bands will often discuss what their songs mean during rehearsal with Inouye. Inouye said, “hopefully they can pass that appreciation on to the next generation to help sustain appreciation of this kind of music.”.
Concerts are usually an all-day commitment for band members, but McPherson said he comes out feeling rewarded. He said he knows how audience members focus on the present moment. “I think it’s a really valuable thing, to escape the world a bit,” he said.
Concert Band performs in the gym in O’Connell Sports Center while Jazz Band performs at the Gaiser Student Center and at local high schools.
“It can be difficult, Rich has very high expectations,” Gaines said. “But that’s also how he runs such an amazing band program.”