1/20/17 – Recently, Parker Middle School seventh and eighth-grade band students spent a weekend at school working to improve their musical skills and knowledge during the school’s annual Winter Band Camp. Over the course of the weekend, the students spent almost 20 hours at school working in small and large groups with a guest conductor and with sectional coaches to prepare for a concert that was held at the end of the weekend. Winter Band Camp is organized by Jeffrey Stimson, Parker Middle School band director. This year’s guest conductor was Mary Hulliberger, Walled Lake Northern High School, director of bands. The sectional coaches who worked with students were music and performance majors from various universities.
“Winter Band Camp is a really unique experience that provides each student the opportunity to work with instrumental coaches who specialize in each instrument and with a guest conductor, which helps the students grow as musicians,” said Stimson. “Additionally, Winter Band Camp allows students to bond with their classmates and often make new friends, something that I feel is very important at the middle school level.”
Winter Band Camp began Friday night when students sight read the musical arrangements for the weekend. On Saturday, students worked with their sectional coaches and guest conductor to perfect the arrangements. Students also attended various break out sessions where they learned about music therapy, music education, musical theater and how music is used in veterinary care. Additionally, students had the opportunity to listen to a traditional Scottish pipe band and play with a professional jazz band. The weekend wasn’t all hard work. Several fun activities such as a painting project, a photo booth and dance were also worked into the busy schedule.
Hulliberger enjoyed working with the Parker students as their guest conductor for the weekend. “The students are so well taught by Jeff Stimson. He has set them up for success in every way possible and for me to come in to work with them is just a joy. They are excited, they know what they are supposed to do and they know how to play really well. It's like driving a Ferrari, you come in, everything is set up and it's fabulous,” said Hulliberger. “To be able to spend this great time working on this great craft it is something that I would love to steal and take home with me for sure.”
While it was a long weekend of hard work, the band students really enjoyed themselves. “I didn't think it would be as fun as it was. Being able to work with people who are in our area of band has been really cool. I’ve learned a couple of techniques in snare drum and bells,” said Jacob Loomis, Parker Middle School seventh grade student. “I loved being in the individual sections. It really helps you, I have learned so many new things and I am really happy that we got to do this,” added Sara Reder, Parker Middle School seventh grade student.
“Winter Band Camp would not be possible without the support of the Parker administration, our parent volunteers and donors,” said Stimson. “From parents who donated food and helped chaperon to the different sectional coaches, our guest conductor and Steve Schafer from Schafer’s House of Music who volunteers his time to be on-site repairing instruments all weekend, Winter Band Camp is truly a group effort.”