Our first adventure of Summer 2017 came as we gathered in Plano, TX (north of Dallas) to teach at the Young Saxophonist's Institute (YSI, for short). YSI began a few years ago in Houston as a weeklong summer camp for middle and high school saxophonists. During each camp, students participate in saxophone quartets and larger ensembles, and it was our pleasure to help out this year at the Plano location! Joining us as camp instructors was Dallas-based saxophonist Andy Wright.
Camp typically began every day at 9:00am but for the first day we started a bit earlier in order to have the students audition for their ensembles. Based on this evaluation, students were placed into three ensembles that they participated in throughout the week: a saxophone quartet, a smaller saxophone ensemble, and one larger saxophone ensemble that incorporated all of the campers and staff. After auditioning and some icebreakers, we jumped right into ensemble rehearsals and sectionals. The first day was certainly a little more hectic than the others, but we (and the students) made it out alive!
We got into a groove over the next few days: ensemble sectionals and rehearsals took place in the morning along with masterclasses and discussions presented by the instructors on a variety of topics such as saxophone history, reed management, and extended techniques. After the morning block, we had some lunch and then dove back into quartet and large ensemble rehearsals. Each day ended at 5:00pm after which the campers headed home.
The last day of camp was our concert day. The students showed up and we had some last minute rehearsals where the groups ran their music and discussed the logistics of the evening. We relaxed a bit in the afternoon with a movie and pizza before show time at 6:30pm. Lots of parents and friends showed up for the concert, and the students were very excited to share the music they had been working on for the past week. After the last performance, we took some pictures, quickly cleaned up the band hall, and just like that, the week was over.