Let The Music Play

A saxophone cover of a dub-step song?

Only at Warren County Summer Music School.

The Summer Music School has been a fixture for 24 years and residents are invited to an open house Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. to explore the many opportunities the program will offer running into its 25th year next summer.

Classes are open to individuals from grade five through adult, and visitors on Friday are encouraged to follow the regular schedule of five 45-minute classes at the Warren Area Elementary Center.

The three-week program had 154 students participate this year with 20 faculty members working with interns from junior high school to college assisting in classes.

“We have this great relationship with the school district, which has been going on for 24 years. I think it’s just a great cooperative venture on both of our parts. We’re so grateful to them for having this beautiful space, this is awesome for our kids to be able to come here,” WCSMS Director Ann Mead said on Thursday.

Mead said WCSMS is more than just a music school, but a “a broad multi-disciplinary art school.”

“We offer everything from music theory through art classes, dance classes, instrumental lessons begining through advanced, we have theater classes…it’s really a broad script,” she added.

Students and faculty gather outside before classes start in the common area at WAEC where two or three goups will perform as a mental stretch.

On Thursday morning, Andrew Pollard’s class Boys Can Sing made of three trebles or “troubles”, a few tenors and baritones opened with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Requiem Pie Jesu” and since Pollard’s lost a few singers to Boy Scout Camp a few girls filled in for the boys in the back. “Ignore the women in the back,” he said jokingly.

A Class Act Senior Musical Theatre Class performed a new interpretation of “Momma I’m a Big Girl Now” from the musical “Hairspray” and Ralph Rasmusson’s Saxophone class played a cover of The Imagine Dragons song “Radioactive”. Students then give each other a healthy round of applause and hurry to their first class of the day. There’s no hanging around in the halls and students aren’t late. They all want to be here.

Walking through the halls of WAEC and you can hear violin students practicing a song from the “Pirates of the Carribean” soundtrack led by Bryan Eckenrode; in the library Alex Burette leads students through harp appregios; in the cafeteria Sophie Dorn has students on their feet for ballroom dancing; Dan Imig’s beginning guitar students watch intensely as he shows them how to change strings; and in Linnea Burr’s piano two class students are focused intently on keyboards underneath a pair of headphones.

In the gymnasium, Eckenrode’s orchestra class and the school’s show choir work their way through a number of pieces before performing with the Warren Philharmonic later in the evening.

The class runs through Samuel A. Ward’s “From Sea to Shining Sea” and later Eckenrode stops the students. Something is a little off.

“I love your energy,” he says to the percussion players, “just a little too loud.”

In Susan Gobbel’s Music and Metals class, students are weaving working strips of sheet metal into designs they cut out and filed down.

“They had to create some sort of design, saw it and then file the edges,” said Gobbel. “We’re using beach glass, glass beads and they’re making rings and things. Some of them actually used silver,; most were working in copper, though.”

WCSMS offers more than just music with acting, singing, set and costume design, art, yoga and vocal classes.

“We work all year to get ready for this, but after 24 years it’s sort of like a well-oiled machine. It falls into place and we love the fact that we have new faculty and they bring fresh ideas, it’s not the same old same old every year,” said Mead.

Registration will be open in mid-March and anyone interested can register by visiting www.wcsms.org.

Later in the day, Pollard encouraged his This Singing Thing is Fun students to take their mind off the technical aspects of singing by moving around the room.

“Keep looking where I am,” he said, moving around the classroom. “Don’t sell me a bill of goods…sing!”