Ad Spot

SMC Band Clinic Day becoming annual event

DOWAGIAC — Area bands should sound “fuller” playing their Michigan Band and Orchestra Association festival programs the first week in March after Southwestern Michigan College’s inaugural Clinic Day on Valentine’s Day.

Musicians practiced breathing techniques with clinician Dr. Alex Kaminsky, VanderCook College of Music director of bands since 2019. He previously directed high school bands for 30 years, coming to Chicago from Margory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Eau Claire High School Band, Bridgman High School Band, Niles Brandywine High School Band, Dowagiac Union High School Chieftain Concert Band and Berrien Springs High School’s Concert Band and Wind Symphony participated, with host Mark Hollandsworth’s SMC Symphonic Band also performing at the event Quinlan and Fabish Music Co. sponsored.

Berrien Springs Director of Bands Kelly Rosselit was “impressed and pleased” by the clinic.

“I brought my group because I wanted them to have a chance to perform on a stage before their actual festival day. This opportunity also allowed my students to get a chance to work with a fine conductor/teacher and to hone their tone and intonation skills,” Rosselit said. “I felt my Concert Band’s sound and volume improved immensely in the 40 minutes Mr. Kaminsky worked with them. The Wind Symphony didn’t need help with tone production, so Mr. Kaminsky isolated important intonation and instrument tendencies with them. Mr. Kaminsky made both groups sound more confident and powerful. I am thankful for his work with them and for Mr. Hollandsworth’s organization of the day.”

Kaminsky said the skills he worked on with student bands are important to their overall sound.

“Breathing is a good way to relax your muscles, so there is no tension when you play,” Kaminsky said. “When you pour water into an empty pitcher, it fills from the bottom up. That’s how we’re going to fill our lungs. Whether you sit on the edge of the chair or all the way back, your back has to be completely vertical. There’s no way to expand the rib cage without being as straight as possible. Nice, tall spines! In 30 years of teaching high school band, even the best young players all had the same issue — tension,” Kaminsky said. “Trumpets playing G above the staff tried to play without enough air and would be pinched and a  little sharp. Same thing with clarinets on high C. I kept thinking, ‘The kids don’t know how to put air through the horn’ until I figured out that’s not the issue.

“The issue is we’re not taught how to breathe deeply enough to fill up our lungs,” Kaminsky said. “We’re not getting enough air into our lungs to get air into our horns. To get rid of all your air in 12 counts, you have to move it faster. Clarinets, saxophones, your pitch is going to go flat because you have to open up space for your reed to vibrate. Brass and flutes, you have the opposite issue. Intonation goes sharp. Move the mouthpiece further from your mouth. Trumpet player Wynton Marsalis talks about ‘blowing the horn off his face’ when he plays. Flutes, aim the air down.”

In his final advice to students, Kaminsky emphasized breathing once again.

“No matter how soft you’re going to play,” Kaminsky said, “always take a fortissimo [loud] breath.”

Now, the band clinic is expected to become an annual event.

Breaking News

Van Buren County reports first COVID-19 death

Berrien County

Gov. Whitmer closes schools for the remainder of the year

Berrien County

Berrien County directs residents to hotline, non 9-1-1 for concerns

Berrien County

Local animal control services urge owners to have plans

Berrien County

Funeral homes offer alternative services in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic

Brandywine Education

Niles photographer extends photo sessions for graduations, proms

Berrien County

Mendel Center announces an online series for a stay-at-home world

Berrien County

Four Winds Casinos reschedule several concerts due to COVID-19

Berrien County

Berrien, Cass, Van Buren counties see uptick in COVID-19 patients

Berrien County

Resources available for renters affected financially by COVID-19

News

Community members step up in a mask shortage stitch

Berrien County

Berrien, Cass County commissioners hosting teleconference meetings

Business

Dowagiac restaurants rally to stay open

Dowagiac

Dowagiac artist moves classes to virtual during COVID-19

Berrien County

Area Agency on Aging honors COVID 19 home-care heroes

Berrien County

Million Meal Challenge will help feed the hungry during COVID-19 crisis

Dowagiac

SMC extends online classes through the end of spring semester

Breaking News

First Cass County resident dies as a result of COVID-19

Business

The Brass Eye adapts business to beer, wine delivery

Brandywine Education

Niles, Brandywine address uncertainty in school year

Berrien County

Junior Achievement provides at-home resources

Berrien County

Local corrections officers complete training

Dowagiac

Sororities make donation to Fitch Camp in spite of canceled soup fundraiser

Dowagiac

Pokagon Band extends closure of its Four Winds Casinos