Sometimes, I find myself wishing that I could get more involved on campus. I see all of the amazing organizations and clubs on campus that my friends are getting involved in and think “I should really be doing more.” But then I remember: I’m insanely involved already! In fact, the groups I’m a part of take up three out of five days in the school week – and sometimes even a day of my weekend. Taking part in them just seems so natural that I hardly even notice that they’re “extra-curricular”, or at least most of them are.
I am, of course, referring to LMU’s many student and community musical ensembles. As of now, there are four immediately visible ensembles: the Concert Band, Pep Band, Jazz Band, and the Concert Choir and Community Chorus. Right now, the only one of these groups that I’m not affiliated with in any way is the Jazz Band (I’m not at all experienced in the jazz style or the instruments used in said style), and thus can’t give you much insider information on that ensemble – Julie can give you the details on this one! In addition to this, I’m completely new to the Concert Choir (having joined just this semester), and somewhat new to Pep Band (joined last semester). Fortunately, my previously-learned musical abilities and experiences were able to help me adjust to these new groups rather quickly. Not only have they been great learning experiences thus far, but also great fun!
I’ve actually been playing with the university’s Concert Band off-and-on since my junior year of high school. Since any member of the community well-versed in his/her instrument can play with the band, I tried out on flute (a C and E-flat major scale and “Into The West” from Lord of the Rings were my audition tasks, if I remember correctly!) and was able to play along with a few of my other friends from my high school’s band. Needless to say, I stuck with it – joining the ensemble officially when I began school at LMU didn’t feel like much of a change at all. Out of the three ensembles I’m a part of, I think Concert Band is definitely my favorite; not only because it’s the one I’m most familiar with, but also because I enjoy the classical types of music we play and the setup of multiple rehearsals culminating into one final concert. Many of my good friends (including my best friend from high school!) are in this ensemble as well; if that isn’t awesome enough, the flute section is one of the largest sections in the band, fun and overpowering in equal measure! Since there are so many of us, our director, Dr. Carucci, has often had to say something to the effect of “Okay, I need all of you to play out more in this section – except the flutes! I couldn’t hear the trumpets over you guys.” I can think of very few other bands where the most delicate woodwind instrument in the ensemble was in danger of overpowering the loudest brass instrument known to man.
If Concert Band represents the classical culture side of music to me, then Pep Band is its pop culture equivalent. While in Concert Band, we learn perhaps five or six long and challenging pieces of music to perform at a concert at the end of the semester, in Pep Band, we learn many shorter and less taxing pieces to perform in the stands at LMU’s basketball games throughout the year. This ensemble is considerably more visible than its Concert equivalent, considering we play at nearly every home game. Because of this visibility and the relatively short periods of time we have to learn our music, the director places a special emphasis on us achieving a clear musical sound and sounding good together, a skill that many of us can easily carry over to Concert Band. While the extremely exciting and loud atmosphere of Pep Band performances hasn’t historically been where I feel most at home, I consider the experience worth it to be able to play fun and crowd-pleasing music with an ensemble dedicated to excellence.
Concert Choir is, as I mentioned, the ensemble I’m the newest to, in more ways than one. Not only did I just join, but I have had practically no experience singing in a formal concert setting. I do, however, have a decent voice and can read music and match pitch – no worries there! There were four parts to the audition process for this ensemble: pitch testing (seeing how high and low I could sing and assigning me to either soprano or alto depending on how I did), rhythm testing (clapping a few notated rhythms out), a prepared piece (I brought a previously-rehearsed song of my own choosing to demonstrate my singing ability in-context), and sight-singing (singing a few short, simple melodies I hadn’t seen previously). I was placed in the alto section – the female harmony part. Although this is a new experience for me, I’m not too worried about it, considering my cousin (an amazing vocalist) is an alto alongside me. So far we’re working on some amazing pieces, including a beautiful religious piece by Haydn, which is a challenge I’m definitely looking forward to!
When I step back and look at all the amazing things I’m a part of in the music program, I can’t think of why I ever thought I was “uninvolved.” Music isn’t just something I’m involved in here – it’s something of a second home.
If you’d like to know more about LMU’s music program, check out its web page here! Now that I’ve shared my musical experiences – what about you? Do you play any instruments or sing, or would you like to? Have you considered checking out any university musical performances, at LMU or elsewhere? Let me know in the comments, and feel free to follow my blog for updates on my own adventures, musical or otherwise!