Potomac Music Academy Continues to Grow

Posted: July 12, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

Walking around campus this summer, you may see people of all ages lugging musical instruments or hear jazzy tunes coming through the windows of the Performing Arts Building. Regular classes may not be in session, but the Department of Music is extremely busy with the Potomac Music Academy this summer. Combining veteran programs such as the Orff Schulwerk Teacher Training Program with brand-new camps such as the Summer Jazz Workshop and the International Euphonium and Tuba Competition, the music academy continues to build the respect of the music community of all ages.

The academy this year consists of a mix of events, symposiums, and camps for returning teachers, university students, and secondary-level music students. Many of the programs are intensive two-week sessions that include course work, practice, private lesson, and performance.

The Donald de Laski and Nancy de Laski Foundation was instrumental in launching the academy last year, contributing $100,000 in support of the summer music programs. Donald de Laski is a member of the George Mason University Foundation Board of Trustees and retired chair of Deltek Systems. Nancy de Laski is a member of the Center for the Arts Advisory Board at George Mason.

One of the new programs that took place earlier this summer, the Euphonium and Tuba Competition, featured 85 participants from the United States and Canada. Musicians ages 8 to 52 competed in various categories, and the winner of the virtuoso artist soloist level performed as a guest soloist in the final concert with the United States Navy Band. Also new was the Institute of Vocal Arts, directed by Professor Patricia Miller, which featured Richard Miller in residence. Twenty students were able to work intensively with Richard Miller and George Mason vocal faculty, attending lectures and coaching lessons in early June.

“We are venturing into new areas this year, and it is very exciting to see the great success we’ve had,” says Jo Lynn Bailey-Page, coordinator of the Potomac Music Academy.

Another highlight of the academy was the Piano Pedagogy Seminar held in June. For the first time this year, participants in the seminar were able to use the seminar as credit toward one of Mason’s new degrees and certificates. Completion of the Piano Pedagogy Seminar was offered as a first step towards a certification for piano teachers and college students, or a credit toward a master’s in piano pedagogy and performance.

The Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra was in residence earlier this month as part of the Summer Jazz Workshop that brought students and professional musicians from all over the country to Mason to participate in auditions, master classes, and jam sessions for one intensive week. In addition, the long-running Chamber Music Connection held its culminating string orchestra concert last week.

Mason will also host the Brass Camp, Woodwind Camp, Symphonic Honor Band, and the Percussion Camp. July brings the Orff Schulwerk Teacher Training program, directed by Donna Fleetwood and Matt McCoy. In its 21st year at Mason, it is the longest-running music program. In August, Lisa Billingham will direct the Choral Conductors Institute, incorporating a unique movement theory into her conducting class. The academy will wrap up at the end of August with a guitar camp headed by music faculty member Larry Snitzler that will bring classical guitarists Berta Rojas, Chuck Redd, and Gray Snead to campus.

“This is a great summer already,” says James Gardner, chair of the Music Department. He believes that the benefits younger students receive while at the academy have many facets. “Secondary-level students are getting a strong focus of attention on musical performance and learning. This effect is already, even from last year, bringing additional strong students into the university. As they are here this summer working with our faculty, they gain insight into what a great place George Mason is,” says Gardner.

More information about these programs can be found on the Department of Music’s web site.

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