“It’s band time!”
Each week members of the Concordia Band hear their director Dr. Peter Haberman shout this phrase before rehearsal. But during the week of Feb. 2-6, there was extra excitement with this exclamation because the band was on tour in Washington state.
The Concordia Band goes on tour annually during the first week of February. Most concerts are performed at high schools in the tour area; each tour changes with different locations and the band encounters new high school students.
However, one thing stays the same on each tour: band members – both music majors and non-music majors – collaborate with the local high school students through interactions. These interactions occur through sectionals, side-by-side band rehearsals, and shared meals.
The Concordia Band hopes these interactions will build connections and relationships with the high school students. Though Haberman said recruitment is not the top priority of tour, he also said “real recruitment is building relationships.”
The varying levels of interactions give the high school students different views of college students and college life.
“It’s exciting for them to really consider that passion and realize that they can still invest in it and grow in it without it being their profession or major in college,” said Emily Campbell, a sophomore trombone player.
Campbell is a psychology major and neuroscience minor. Her future goal is to go into marriage and family therapy. She said high school students were amazed that Campbell is pursuing a major other than music. They were interested in how she finds time to practice her trombone, attend rehearsal and keep up her schoolwork.
“I really like [interactions],” she said. “I go at it with my team members of other trombone players.”
Jackson Richards, a freshman piano performance major and horn player in the band, echoes Campbell’s interest of helping the young musicians. He likes to “help them discover what they are capable of.” While education is not his specialty he thinks that college students and high school students can learn from each other.
“There were times over tour that I thought, ‘I never thought about the music this way,’” he said.
“Hearing the same thing from a different set of ears is always nice,” said Lynnea Eckhoff. As a senior music education major who finished her student teaching last semester, Eckhoff understands that students can gain different insights by hearing similar ideas from different directors. The students might be more receptive to a visiting director because there is a change of pace. Along with her educational mindset, Eckhoff also views issues from a managerial stance as one of the student managers for the band. One of the questions she asked herself throughout the week was, “How can we reach the most amount of people with the time that we were given?”
For this tour, side-by-side interactions and sharing meals provided the most opportunities for the limited amount of time. The band cut down travel time by working with schools around the Seattle area. However, while the travel distance in the area was shorter, there were more students to work with, as the band programs were larger. This gave the band students many opportunities for interactions.
Libby Hiller enjoys practicing the skills she learns in her education classes in these interactions. Hiller is a sophomore horn player and English education major.
“I love working with kids who don’t have their own resources” she said.
In the beginning of her horn playing career, Hiller was not able to receive private instruction. Though she is not a music education major, Hiller still gives students advice and tips. She thinks of her younger self and what she would want to learn.
“It’s really beneficial to me because as a future educator, I’ll be working with many different types of students … Building relationships, that’s huge when you’re a teacher. I love practicing that skill,” she said.
Hiller added that it takes a lot of practice to get others to be comfortable and able to share something about themselves.
Samantha Adank, a junior euphonium player and math education major agrees with Hiller that education majors greatly benefit from these interactions. While building these relationships with high school students, Adank said she does not push the recruitment angle with the students.
“I really don’t have an agenda when I talk to them … It’s really informative to me,” Adank said.
Haberman said a similar statement. While he said that recruitment is not the main objective of tour, he also said that recruitment cannot be separated from all of the work students do while on tour.
“I’m not selling anything; we’re just around,” he said.
Haberman said that the main purpose of tour is to engage in music in a deeper way – both with the college students and with high school students. College students are able to learn more from the repertoire by playing it multiple times, and the high school students get a glimpse of the level of music they can obtain in college.
Adank also thinks that recruitment is not the main purpose of tour.
“We’re a really good catalyst,” Adank said. “I was never moved to go to a school from hearing one performance.
She said that scholarships and professors are the reasons why students decide which college is best for them.
“It [tour] gives high schoolers a chance to get a glimpse of college life,” said Jon Sutton a sophomore music education major and trombone player. Sutton thinks that sharing meals and rehearsal time with high school students can help them decide if college is a good fit for them. While the state of Washington is far from Concordia, Sutton does not think it impossible to attract students to Concordia.
“I feel that it is realistic, even though it is far away … We’re investing; tour is an investment in the future of the band program,” Sutton said.
“This doesn’t have to end here,” Haberman said.
Haberman also said that tour focuses on recruitment for music programs in general – Concordia’s or otherwise.
There are other times when the band does more obvious recruitment. On Feb. 13, the band played at the Minnesota Music Educator’s Association conference in Minneapolis. Band directors and students from across Minnesota were there.
“That concert is all recruitment,” Haberman said.
While the band tours are not focused on recruitment, Haberman thinks there is a good possibility that students from Washington could attend Concordia. There are fewer options for liberal arts colleges with good music programs in the Washington area. Haberman said there is only one private liberal arts school in the that area with a good music program. He also thinks it is good timing for the band to visit Washington as the Concordia Choir was out in the state of Washington last year.
“I know we’ll see a specific couple students that will come to Concordia,” he said.
Marit Johnson (’16) is majoring in music and Spanish. She continues to explore her love for words and linguistics with her English minor. Johnson is currently the web editor for the Concordian. Her work is featured in the Concordian, in freelance work for Augsburg Fortress Press, and on Prairie Public Radio where she interned in Fall 2015. When she is not at the Concordian, Johnson can be found in Concordia’s band library or in rehearsal with the band and orchestra.