SUMMERTIME IN THE CITY: Band Camps Or All-Star/Mass Bands… The Revisit

If you’ve been following the politics in Washington, then you are aware of the current political divide in our nation surrounding the Russian attack on the 2016 election and the ensuing investigations of obstruction of justice and collusion by President Trump and his campaign, respectively. As the investigations proceed, President Trump (and his supporters) have lashed out at the media, the FBI and the Special Counsel’s Office, calling it all a witch hunt. The Democrats (also known as the political correctness police) are chasing Trump around twitter looking for gotcha moments with every tweet. Meanwhile… the Russian attack on our country remains unaddressed by congress. Both sides have resorted to their respective corners where only their own talking points are heard and accepted. It feels good getting those “high-fives” when everyone agrees with each other… but that’s not democracy.

Last year around this time I wrote an article entitled IS IT HELPING OR HURTING?: The All-Star/Mass Band. The inspiration behind the article was a spirited conversation between some high school and college band directors who were comparing the positive results of students participating in All-Star/Mass Bands as opposed to the typical Summer Band Camps hosted by universities. Some questioned if All-Star/Mass Bands benefited their students in any impactful way. I hoped my article would inspire a lively discussion amongst directors and mass band participants which could possibly develop into understanding and mutual respect. This activity could potentially be another pathway to college scholarships for directors and their students, satisfying goals that I would later learn were the same on both “sides” of the discussion.

band camp 3

Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way… The discussion was taken over by MEAC vs SWAC dialogue and, just like the Republicans and the Democrats, people resorted back to their corners of the internet for virtual “high-fives” and adulation as they attacked “the other side” while never truly hearing each other. Meanwhile… a momentous opportunity for dialogue and purposeful action was lost and the students became the ultimate losers.

So here we are, a year later, and I’m posing the same questions… Is the All-Star/Mass Band hurting or helping students and programs in general? Do you believe the enrollment of summer band camps have suffered due to the popularity of All-Star/Mass Bands? Is this a fad that will eventually pass or is the All-Star/Mass Band here to stay and should be respected as such?

I encourage you to revisit the article from last year and then contribute your thoughts on the matter here (in the comment section) or; under “The Revisit” post on our facebook page, my Google Plus account, or my LinkedIn page so everyone can see your comments and respond accordingly. This is not a discussion to have with our respective “amen choirs” so please don’t share this article to groups then discuss privately. Please discuss here or on the aforementioned platforms where contrasting viewpoints and constructive debate is welcomed and encouraged.

Published by Ernest Stackhouse

-Music Educator -Marching Band Show Design -Musical Arranger -Adjudicator -Fine Arts Administrator -Band Director -Writer

5 thoughts on “SUMMERTIME IN THE CITY: Band Camps Or All-Star/Mass Bands… The Revisit

  1. I am both for and against the concept of all star bands. This isnt based on any single all star band in particular.

    IM FOR IT because it really exposes our dying culture of marching known as showband. It gives students a chance to play alongside other musicians in the city, and TBH its hard to get kids to do anything especially during the summer. I appreciate the fact that these kids are playing their instruments and having amazing experiences in the summer. It’s an amazing concept that exposes kids to college band early on and sparks their interest.

    Because of all star band experiences, I have students that wanted our program to grow, so they actively recruited new students. Many more decided to major in Music and become directors in the future. Some students have even asked me to help teach them how to arrange music. And we can’t forget the trips. Anytime a child travels to a new city and meets musicians, its an amazing thing.

    I’M AGAINST IT because not all students have the maturity to be exposed to college band so early. College students and high school students have a totally different mentality when it comes to music. Some all-star bands focus on cranking, which is not a problem. However, not all students have developed a characteristic sound on their instrument to be cranking just yet. They bring bad habits back to their home band and it causes issues.

    My second issue is Adequate leadership. Some of these groups are run by Band directors which is great. Meanwhile, others are run by wannabe band directors. I like the fact that aspiring band directors work with these groups, but again, maturity comes into play. Aspiring directors and wannabes are two different things. Aspiring band directors actively pursue a degree, and genuinely want to help the kids. Wannabe directors have no interest in helping students grow, just want to boost their own ego. Either way, degreed, non degreed etc.., NONE of our programs are so cold to the point where we have the nerve to be divided.

    All-star band is like dessert: ice cream, cake, candy, etc. There’s nothing wrong with dessert, but kids need their vegetables first. New Orleans and Louisiana Leadership are the prime example of what an all star band should be. Those students all develop a similar philosophy and are lead by awesome directors. In turn, those students return to their campuses and ensure their home bands are in prime shape, making the directors’ jobs easier.

    Sorry my response is so long

    Be Blessed

      1. Hey Prof. I totally get it and you hit it right on the head. I believe rhe groups should be directed by true music educators and not “wanna be band directors.”

  2. The post is amazing. It depends on the purpose of the group. Will they focus on developing musicianship while teaching thse blowing tunes. If there is an educational focus at these All Star Band sessions, then it is a good thing.

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