When 1,100 cheering high school students filled Hugh Hodgson Concert Hall to capacity on Jan. 22, it might have seemed like the culmination of the Hugh Hodgson School of Music’s outreach efforts. But it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The Hodgson Wind Ensemble’s performance during JanFest, a music festival that annually hosts over 1,000 high school students from Georgia and South Carolina, is an important, visible high point in the School of Music’s outreach, but it’s just one small part of the festival.
JanFest, which ran from Jan. 21-24, created a unique opportunity for the school, the high school students and those students’ educators.
“We brought in clinicians, educators and conductors from all over the world to work with our high school students,” said Cynthia Johnston Turner, director of bands at the School of Music. “Music educators observed rehearsals and also had sessions from our faculty to learn new educational and rehearsal techniques.”
This created an enormous recruiting opportunity for the School of Music, one that also is created by MidFest, the middle school equivalent to JanFest. Held in mid-December, MidFest brought 1,028 students from 134 schools.
On a smaller scale, the school’s Summer Music Institute, Music Camp and Marching Band Camp do much the same as the festivals-offer high-level instruction to promising students of varying ages, experience levels and disciplines.
These summer music camps have been directed by Skip Taylor, an associate professor of music in string education, for the last 15 years. Rachael Fischer, Stephen Fischer and Rob Akridge, School of Music director of band festivals-who also helped organize JanFest and MidFest-aided him.
Taylor has seen proof of the camps’ effectiveness in the number of alumni who return to give back to the program.
“I’m happy that we have so many camp alumni, who are now professionals in the field, continually coming back to work the summer camps with us,” Taylor said.
Additionally, two School of Music programs exist to musically enrich the Athens-Clarke County area: the UGA Community Music School and UGA String Project.
The CMS, under director Kristin Jutras, offers instruction from School of Music students to musicians of all ages. In addition to private lessons, CMS offers group classes, music ensembles and music theory lessons to all who aspire to enhance their musical knowledge and ability.
“Providing lessons and classes for the community not only gives our students more practical experience to prepare them for the real world, but it also brings the community into our building to get to know more of what goes on here, and what they can take advantage of,” Jutras said.
The UGA String Project focuses on providing affordable string instruction to third- through eighth-grade children in the Athens area. According to directors Ruth Monson and Taylor, though the program provides unique, valuable instruction to young musicians, its primary purpose is pre-service teaching opportunities for string education students.
These programs, combined with an extensive slate of area-specific workshops, symposiums and seminars (UGA Trombone Summit, Double Reed Symposium, UGA Choral Day and many more), make sure the Hugh Hodgson School of Music is on the lips of every musically inclined student that sees the Arch.
And the students in Hodgson Hall on Jan. 22 were glad to prove it.