Photo: Antonio Escano composes musical piece with help of Dr. Bernard Scherr
Students chosen to attend the summer piano camp at Hardin-Simmons University have to work hard to get chosen for the camp, and then have to work even harder once they get to campus.
Twelve students were chosen for the piano camp this year, says co-director Lauren Puckett. “When students apply, they are required to submit a recording of a performance and a letter of recommendation from their piano teacher,” says Puckett.
Lauren Puckett, associate professor of piano, and husband, Dr. Mark Puckett, professor of piano, both on the faculty in the HSU School of Music, started the camp nine years ago. “We want serious piano students to experience a week of intensive study and enjoy the company of others who share their love of music,” says Puckett.
A favorite activity at the camp is composing a piece of music under the guidance of Dr. Bernard Scherr, associate professor and department head of music theory and composition. Students leave with a compilation of everyone’s compositions and they vote on their favorite one during a dress rehearsal.
Antonio Escano, a seventh grader at Roach Middle School in McKinney, Texas, says he has learned a lot of new information at the camp. “I got started playing piano only a couple of years ago when my dad gave me a keyboard for Christmas,” he says. “I just love playing piano and that led me to this camp.”
This afternoon, students worked on their compositions with help readily available from Scherr. Students in the composition lab work on their piece at a computer terminal and then see how it sounds by taking a seat at one of many nearby keyboards, slipping on a pair of headphones, and playing it without disturbing the other composers.
Later, in the usually formal setting of Woodward-Dellis Recital Hall, students cheer and applaud their fellow campers as they play their compositions. Students practice a deep, sweeping bow to their audience, both before and after their performances.
Shirley Anderson, a long-time church pianist and part of the camp faculty, says one of the things they usually discuss during the week is performance anxiety. “Musicians do some of the same things to conquer fear that athletes do in sports.” Anderson continues, “We talk about putting your performance in perspective—recognizing this is just one of many performances. We also talk about foods you should avoid, like caffeine and sugar, which hype you up.”
Another favorite activity is ensemble where students play their pianos as a group while sight-reading piano music.
Puckett says, “Several of the students who have attended past camps have since come to HSU for their degrees in piano performance, theory/composition, and music education. It’s a wonderful way for students to experience HSU and get to know some of the music faculty.”
The recital is free and open to anyone who would like to give support to the efforts of students whose summer break is dedication to their love of music. The recital will be on Thursday, June 28, 2012, at 10:00 a.m. in Woodward-Dellis Recital Hall. Following the recital will be a reception for students, teachers, families, and friends on the third floor of Caldwell Hall Music Building.