By Étienne Thevou
Morinville – A small group of six Smith Music students have been hunkered down in the 100 street studio this week working on notes, rhythms and tunes to blend them into some sweet sounds in time for an open concert Friday night. As is so often the case when Smith Music students take to the stage, the admission is free so long as you bring a little something along for the Morinville Food Bank Society.
The concert will be the culmination of the first instalment of Smith Music’s annual band camp, an educational experience that takes students beyond the music lessons they learn throughout the year. Last year’s event saw students travelling the streets of the community performing at a variety of venues with an open guitar case. The purpose of the exercise was to teach the students a bit about the business side of the music business. This year the students decided to choose band dynamics as the week-long lesson for band camp.
“We’re going to do two hours of entertainment on Friday and they get to select all the songs they do, and with direction from teachers they perfect the songs,” said Paul Smith, owner of Smith Music. “They should be able to do the show fully independently on Friday.”
Smith said getting a band together is tough, keeping it together tougher. It is that lesson of group chemistry and dynamics that is at the core of this year’s first band camp.
“This goes into actually using the skill,” Smith said. “With our normal concert they are playing along with teachers who are professional musicians. Now they are playing with amateur musicians and amateur musicians won’t prop them up like a professional musician will. It’s good to play with people above your level because it makes you pull your socks up. When you play with people at the same level, it really makes you pull your socks up.”
Each of the students have been tasked with choosing a song they particularly think is a great piece of music – the challenge is for the band to play those chosen songs as if each performer shared the same enthusiasm for the number.
For singer Keisha Arsenault the week-long camp was an opportunity to get out of her own comfort zone. “It was scary at first but I actually enjoy it now because I can now learn how to play with others and have fun,” Arsenault said.
Bassist David Legge, who was also involved in last year’s band camp, said he found this year’s edition to be a different experience. “This year we are doing a lot more practice inside Smith Music,” he said. “We’re not going to all the other locations and stuff.” Legge said his goal in band camp was to learn more songs and to have fun playing music with other people.
The band camp concert finale takes place Friday night at 6:30 p.m. at Smith music on 100 Street.