Music faculty volunteers to host clinic for area high school students

Music professor Daniel Smithiger leads local high students in a workshop to prepare them for ILMEA competition. Photo courtesy of Smithiger.

SIUE music faculty held a clinic for area high school students to help them prepare for auditions at the Illinois Music Education Association (ILMEA) competition.

On Sept. 18-19, many faculty members volunteered to hold workshops with students on band and orchestral instruments so they could learn the music required for October’s district competition. Students who audition at the district level could advance to the state-level ILMEA competition in Peoria.

Daniel Smithiger, professor of percussion and director of basketball bands, conceived of the idea of the workshop. The Music Department sponsored the event which, according to Smithiger, brought in nine area high schools.

He said the workshop, launched this year, was a success and helped plant the seed in recruiting students.

“A lot of kids’ feedback from what we could see on the surveys that we administered was very positive,” Smithiger said. “Many are likely and considering to come to SIUE, and many would certainly come back for the same event next year.”

Smithiger coordinated the band workshop which hosted more than 100 students. Cello professor Marta Simidtchieva coordinated the string workshop which took in roughly 60 students.

Simidtchieva said preparing students for the ILMEA competition is extremely important.

“If the students feel that they are doing well [through the competition] then they are motivated to continue playing the instrument. If they’re not doing well, they quit,” Simidtchieva said. “It’s really important to have as much help as possible.”

According to Simidtchieva, the SIUE music faculty can play an important part in assisting students.

“We are professors from the university who help students at their high school level,” Simidtchieva said. “To go back and give them the quality we provide for college students but for high school students-that’s already a big step.”

Simidtchieva said the string workshop, which consisted of faculty performances, sectional rehearsals for violin, viola, cello and bass and an orchestral rehearsal, was a really positive experience.

“The students were really in awe of the faculty,” Simidtchieva said. “Everyone was really responsive and really was here for the students which is what we try to do.”

Simidtchieva added that the students, in playing at different levels and practicing the same material together within their instrument groups, was a stimulating factor.

“The group setting worked really nice. I felt like students were learning better just from listening to what the next student was doing,” Simidtchieva said. “I could see that there were some students that were stronger and some students that were struggling a little bit so I made sure that everyone was on the same page.”

Simidtchieva said the string faculty will travel to Alton High School and Edwardsville High School in two weeks to follow up with students. There they will conduct mock auditions and give students feedback.

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