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Shell Lake: Student Tested, Student Approved

The Shell Lake Arts Center Trumpet Week Workshop was quite the key change, a perfect bridge between the typical open enrollment "band camp" and the audition required "summer session". At home I had been focused on piece preparation, range, and tonguing techniques. What I needed to compliment all of that was to polish up my collection of skills rather than focus on one technique or work through uber challenging pieces. (An overly common, but worthy, focus at band camps.) A focus on controlling my sound was exactly what the doctor ordered. The staff instructors prescribed intensive study that drilled into the finer points of air concentration, technical cleanliness, and volume control. The most critical element on a list of about one hundred concepts recapped on the last day was sight reading. For professional musicians being able to sight read is a make-it-or-break-it skill. There was some disparity between the methodology employed at home and camp. At camp we focused in on the more formal site reading knowledge base such as rhythm, reaction timing, and real-world study. The home-brew was more focused on life and self. For example every day we proceed forward without knowing what comes next, though there is usually an expectation of how things will play out. More than likely, the artist will create their own unique flavor for the piece. This summer, and exiting this camp in particular, I find myself amused by how endless the similarities of navigating music and life are. For example whether a new piece or chapter in life:

  • While working through areas of dissonance and tension we worry we are not doing it quite as expected and it feels like everyone is watching.

  • If our performance is flawed we have to continue in tempo, navigate through it, and focus on starting the next phrase on a good note; there are no do-overs and everyone knows you did not get it quite right.

  • Our past experience arms us with knowledge of context, rhythm, and all kinds of other tools that enable us to navigate unchartered waters with the moves of a seasoned sailor.

  • If we encounter something completely out of the ordinary, we ask our colleagues and confidents for guidance. The next time we encounter it, we will have the necessary perspective and knowledge to create something beautiful.

My Shell Lake Arts Center experience gave me some much needed polish and refreshed the reality that life is music and music is life. Both are team and spectator sports. At one point in camp Mr. Robert Bacca even stressed that "WE CAN'T DO IT ALONE"!


© 2023 by Nic Scott.