UofSC Bands at the University of South Carolina School of Music hosted its 43rd annual UofSC Band Clinic in February. This clinic has annually brought over 400 talented high school students from the southeastern U.S. together for 4 days of rehearsals, masterclasses, and concerts. The clinic is a widely anticipated event for band students and directors that seeks to encourage camaraderie and bonding among its participants.
This year’s event, as with many events affected by the pandemic, was held virtually. Although the clinic has never been held virtually before, this new medium allowed the clinic to reach more students than ever before, transcending geographical boundaries with students from Tennessee, Florida and even Ohio in attendance. The ability to expand attendance outside of South Carolina was especially important for those students from states with strict Covid-19 restrictions.
Kennedy Brehm, a clinic attendee from Ohio said “With COVID a lot of my normal band activities have been cancelled, so I have been doing some searching to find some virtual band opportunities to participate in…it's been a cool experience.”
Determined to make this years’ clinic resemble previous years’ clinics and spur the future of the next generation of students, Director of Bands, Cormac Cannon and Associate Director, Jay Jacobs enlisted the help of Carolina’s Audio Engineer, Jeff Francis and IT Specialist, Mike LaRoche to take the clinic online. The virtual clinic made every effort to resemble the in-person environment by providing live feedback, one-on-one engagement, and live performances. Junior and senior participants were invited to audition for a feature position that would receive live feedback during their respective instrument’s masterclasses.
“This creative and imaginative event provided an opportunity to band students who have dealt with the many challenges of being a musician during COVID,” said UofSC Professor of Percussion, Scott Herring.
The clinic concluded with a series of events and talks that featured a live YouTube performance by the Ridgeview High School Wind Ensemble and keynote talks given by renowned composer John Mackey and University of Texas at Austin Director of Bands, Jerry Junkin. The final performance was a virtual concert where participants had the rare opportunity to watch themselves perform. The performers were assigned music, given instructions, and received helpful tips from the composer. They then recorded their parts individually and local [Columbia, SC] composer and producer Ryan Williams worked diligently to create the full piece. The ending result was a sensorial escape from our current secluded habitats and glimpse of the normality of making music together. A luxury that all participants will never again take for granted.
The UofSC School of Music community is committed to bringing students, musicians and audiences alike together to learn and experience music together. As a part of this commitment, the UofSC School of Music is responding to the social and cultural challenges with an initiative called “Bridging Our Distances”. Through this initiative our students, faculty, and staff seek to use music as a vehicle for uniting our communities, amplifying voices, celebrating heroes and spurring our future. Special events, concerts, lectures, and recitals have been chosen that expressly fall under this initiative. These events seek to reinvigorate our purpose as artist-citizens within and beyond the concert hall.
With “Bridging Our Distances”, we commit to spurring forward into the future by activating an array of possibilities rather than relying on past assumptions. What new territories can we explore that will empower us and our students to unite, amplify, and celebrate through music? We look forward to exploring new outlets and opportunities and sharing our experiences with those in our community and beyond.