Most student musicians practice on their own volition over the summer. For many of them, that means rarely.
“That’s the hill I die on every year,” said Brianna McDonough, orchestra teacher at John Marshall High School.
From Aug. 5-10, there will be hundreds of music students Minnesota whose teachers won’t have to wonder whether they’re practicing.
Rochester-area students are among the more than 560 students statewide selected for All State ensembles. They, with a cadre of volunteer instructors, will come together for the annual All State camps.
For the second year, John Marshall cello player Enoch Kim will participate in the orchestra camp.
“It was really intense,” Kim said of his experience at the camp last year. “They’re not chill about giving you a whole lot of time to relax.”
That’s part of the point to the camps — to give students a taste of the rigors pursuing a degree or career in music entails.
“It’s the setting, the people, everything you need,” McDonough said.
McDonough also serves as orchestra vice president on the MMEA board. She will be at the orchestra camp at University of Minnesota–Duluth. The band camps will be held at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Choir camps are at St. Olaf College in Northfield.
Musicians were given a mix of Romantic and modern compositions along with a movie score to perform last year, Kim said. The variety was welcome, he added.
"I really enjoy playing movie scores," he said.
Kim said he has already ruled out persuing music as a career or college major, but is heading back to the orchestra All State camp to build connections and meet people. However, music will always be a skill and source of relaxation for him, he added.
Kim made fourth chair cello at last year's camp, which he said came as a surprise to him.
"I didn't expect to do as well as I did last year," he said.
Some musicians, accustomed to success at school, seem to have high expectations coming into camp, Kim said.
“Some of these really confident people would end up sitting in the back,” he said.
Watching students come together is one of the highlights of the camps, McDonough said.
“They come in and they’re sitting in clumps by their schools,” she said. “By the end of camp, they’re all sitting in their instrument sections.”
High school student musicians audition before volunteer MMEA judges for All State spots in March. The MMEA All State committee then selects the rosters in mid-April.