Mentoring Monday: Studio Hour

[Note from Nicole: Sorry this is a late post, I was on vacation]

Studio Hour
Angelica Grau, School of Music Mentor

Q: OK, so what exactly is Studio Hour?
A: It is the best hour of the week!

Q: But seriously, what is it?
A: I just told you. The best hour of the week! At least to me it is.

Q: Do you mind elaborating a little bit on that?
A: Alright, alright. Studio Hour is at 11AM every Thursday morning. In this hour, you are essentially sitting in/participating in a master class hosted by your studio professor.

Q: What’s a master class? I feel stupid.
A: Please don’t! I had no idea what it was when I got here. A master class—at least in music—is when people volunteer to give performances of pieces they are working on in their lessons/on their own. The host of the class then critiques the performance and gives the performer tips on how to improve the piece! Studio Hour is just that.

Q: But I see my studio professor every week in my lessons. Why do I need to go to Studio Hour?
A: You see, Studio is a lot different than your lessons. You are performing for your fellow studio members! You know, the other people who take lessons from your professor. In my studio (Dr. Bullock’s), she allows us to give the feedback. Not only does this help the performer with their repertoire, but it helps the audience by teaching them what to look for in a performances or lessons if you end up teaching them.

Q: Your peers critique you? That sounds horrifying. I hope I never have to perform.
A: Oh don’t worry, you will definitely have to perform in studio. Most likely within the first month or two of the semester. Dr. Bullock holds a “freshmen showcase” in our studio, which is the day all of the freshmen perform!

A: You will be when the time comes, I promise. Your professor will not hang you out to dry.

A: First off, do not think like that. You are NOT horrible. You would not have been accepted into this School of Music if you were. Secondly, your peers will have all been there before! It’s hard to imagine it, but they were all freshmen too. They know what you’re feeling! Performing in Studio Hour for the first time is the scariest, but every time after that it becomes wayyy easier. Believe me, your professor and/or fellow colleagues will not dig your grave. They want you to improve! That’s the entire point of Studio Hour! I promise you, it will be alright. After that very first time, you may find that you really enjoy performing in Studio! I know I do. I also love getting to sit back and watch my colleagues perform their repertoire. It’s really great to see how people—including yourself—have improved over time. So please, do yourself a favor and don’t stress so much about it. You will have enough time to prepare for that dire first performance in Studio Hour. Your teacher and your fellow Studio members will not laugh at your or leave you hanging. Swope is a family. We may be competitive, but we also want everyone to succeed. So take a chill pill and start practicing!


Mentoring Monday: Small Town Band to Incomparable Golden Rams

Small Town Band to Incomparable Golden Rams
Ally Hempelmann, School of Music Mentor

As I’m sure many of you have learned, the Incomparable Golden Rams Marching Band is far from a small numbered marching band. Take it from me- I went from a 50-60 member marching band to a 350 member marching band. Sounds intimidating, right? Well, I’m not going to lie- it was. If you are about to walk (rather, march… sorry, I had to) into the same situation I did, here’s what you should expect:

You guessed it- it’s going to be louder. That’s not a bad thing! The Golden Rams have a good sense of tonality, blending, balance, and just overall quality of sound. We all have our fantastic band director, Dr. Yozviak along with our assistant band director Dr. Martin to thank for that. Just wait until you sit down in the auditorium and play with the other 299 rams and get engulfed in the sound; it will blow your mind!

2. Experience
It is an obvious fact that going from high school to college means getting to know professors that have more experience than you could ever imagine. Music major or not, you’ll learn how to listen to the sound you are producing, how to change that sound, how to teach, how to adapt to many different situations, and other things. Upperclassmen are the same way! Talking to the upperclassmen will really help you get a feel of what is happening and what’s to come, and trust me, they won’t lie to you.

3. Starting out as a number
In small bands, you become known very quickly because, well, you’re in a small group. When you’re with the Golden Rams, though, don’t be upset if Dr. Martin calls you out by your shirt color or what hat you’re wearing that day. There are so many of us and only a few staff members. Can you imagine learning 350 names in a week? For me, that wouldn’t be possible. If you don’t enjoy hearing the color of your shirt and shoes every now and again, try and stand out from the crowd (in a good way). That could mean saying “Hi!” to the staff when you’re not on the field, stopping by during their office hours to ask questions, or helping set up the fields if you get to practice early!

4. “Wait… Who are you?”
Small bands means knowing everyone around you and everything about them, right? That’s not so easy with the Golden Rams. This will be my third year marching and I STILL don’t know everyone’s names. Heck, I’ll see someone after a practice in October that I have never seen before- and that’s okay! That means there is always an opportunity to meet someone new and make friends. So, don’t be offended if someone comes up to you and asks for your name, because it probably has happened to them too.

5. New friends, and a new family!
Congratulations, you have discovered how to make friends in the easiest and best way possible! Don’t hesitate to start making friends right off the bat- walk into registration with confidence (but not cockiness!) and be the best “you” you can be! Sharing one common interest surely does help, but putting yourself out there and making an effort to get to know people goes a long way! Besides, there are 350 of us! If you don’t walk out of band camp with 5-10 friends, there’s a problem. With the amount of time we spend together, it’s like coming home from a long day of work and just relaxing with your friends… with drill and an instrument in your hand. ☺ The experiences you’ll have an memories you’ll make with these people will last a lifetime, so make the most of them!

So, there you have it- the big things that you need to know about joining the 350 member strong Incomparable Golden Rams Marching Band! It may sound a little scary, but once you get in the groove, you’ll be good to go. Best of luck!

Oh, and don’t be afraid to come and say hi to me at band camp (I play alto sax). ☺

Mentoring Monday: Email

Eric Schaeffer, School of Music Mentor

For many students, email as a form of professional communication is entirely new. But it is a necessity in college none-the-less, and emailing a professor not only helps to convey information, but to show your professionalism. A well-worded and formatted email not only helps for readability purposes, but also shows your integrity as an academic scholar. Here are some tips on how to write a professional email:

  • Always include something in the subject line. This tells your recipient at a glance what the email is about. Subject lines should be formatted the same way as a title of a book or essay. They should be short and right to the point. Personally, I find that a statement or phrase in a subject line looks more professional than a question, but either is fine if punctuated correctly. Periods at the end of phrases or sentences, however are optional. Don’t over punctuate on questions or exclamatory subjects. And as always, checking spelling and grammar!
    Good Examples:
    o   Change of Lesson Time.
    o   Question about Theory IV Project.
    o   Thank you for the Recommendation!
    o   How many Recitals have I been to?
    o   Aurals I Extra Credit & Question about Office Hours

    Bad Examples:
    o   [no subject]
    o   i didnt no the paper was due
    o   To nicole kemp
    o   hey
    o   make up lesson?????????

    • Know the difference between To, CC, and BCC. The “To” field is the most obvious: who are you sending the message to? This name goes here. If you need a response from multiple people, then each person’s email address will go in this field. “CC” stands for “Carbon Copy”, and will send the email to whoever’s email address is in the field. The main difference between “CC” and “To” is the connotation: “To” recipients are directly involved in the subject matter of the email and are usually expected to respond, while “CC” recipients are not directly involved. Think of it as a “Just a heads up” sort of deal. “BCC” simply means “Blind Carbon Copy”: It is the same as CC, but no one in the CC or To field will know that the person(s) in the BCC field was sent the email.
    • The body of the email should always start with the recipient or recipients’ name. You may wish to prepend their name with something along the lines of “Dear” or “Hello”, but don’t get too informal (“Yo” and “Sup” should not but used). Again, be sure to use good spelling and grammar (capitalization is key!). After the recipient’s name, place a comma. Include a line break, and then start to type out what the email is pertaining to.
    • The entirety of your email should be in complete sentences with good punctuation, spelling, capitalization, and grammar. Include line breaks if needed between different subject matters of the email (but don’t go crazy). If the purpose of the email is only to send an attached file, the body only needs to include “attached is the ________”, or something along those lines. As long as you follow the basic rules of grammar, you should have no problems. Don’t over punctuate, USE ALL CAPS, overuse bold, italic, or underlined text, or try to overcompensate in any other way, shape, or form. Emails in a professional setting are simply used to convey information or inquire about something. They should not be used for venting or over-expressing any emotion (Obviously, it’s okay to mention that you’re upset, angry, happy, etc., but “OMG IM SO HAPPY!!!” or “I’M SO F@%ING MAD!!! >:(“ is not acceptable).
    • After a line break, the email should end simply with your name (Usually first and last). Depending on context, it can be nice to prepend something along the lines of “Thank You,” or “Regards,” before your name. If you choose this route, your name will be one line below the sign-off.
    • Alternatively, you may wish to make a custom signature that will appear at the bottom of all your emails. These usually consist of your name, contact information, and any other relevant information you may wish to include (such as your instrument, organizations you’re part of, work information, etc.). In example:

    o   Eric Schaeffer
    Composer | Guitarist
    Vice President of NOW Music Society

    Generally, a good rule of thumb when writing an email to a professor or other figure of importance is to use correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, and syntax. Be polite and respectful, keep focus with your email, respond and send emails in a timely manner, and be sure to attach any documents needed. While it’s not a life-or-death situation, a good email still goes a long way in the professor’s eyes.

    [Note from the Undergraduate Program Counselor: Eric’s article here hits on so many great points for sending emails. Be sure to use these tips when sending email from your mobile devices as well; no matter your medium, you want your communication to be understood and interpreted correctly. Lastly, PLEASE make an email signature both on your computer and on your mobile device. Signatures should include Name, Major, Instrument, Email, ID number, and any “extras”. Signatures make it much easier for faculty and staff to be able to help you quickly and efficiently.]

Mentoring Monday: Brace yourself; Band Camp is coming Seven Tips to surviving your first Band Camp at West Chester University.

Brace yourself; Band Camp is coming
Seven Tips to surviving your first Band Camp at West Chester University.

Jacqueline Cotto, School of Music Mentor

It’s summer, which means one thing: Band camp is coming! Band camp is a great place to start getting adjusted to college life. Here are seven tips to surviving the West Chester University Incomparable Golden Rams Marching Band 2014 Band Camp.

Number one- take care of everything you need to do before band camp. This includes selling raffle tickets, handing in forms, and memorizing music. The more you can get out of the way before the camp, the less you have to worry about and can focus your energy on new music, drill, and getting to know other people!

Number two- prepare for long days. At West Chester, you have breakfast at 7 AM and then go from 8 AM until after 8 PM with an hour for lunch and dinner. You will be mostly inside doing sectionals/music rehearsals in the morning and some basics, and then you are outside anytime after lunch until it gets too dark to see the field. Be prepared mentally for long days and be ready for any weather. There has been 95° weather or higher, hurricane’s and earthquakes at past band camps- be prepared for anything!

Number three- bring water. Bring a case of water bottles to put in your room or even better, go to Target or another department store and buy a water jug soyou can hold more water. The more water you have, the better you will be at learning new drill and getting through the hot days.

Number four- bring sunscreen. Even if you’re one of those people who “tan instead of sun burn” bring sunscreen. Also bring aloe incase you do get burned to get rid of that uncomfortable dry and burning feeling!

Number five- make sure you do whatever you need to stay healthy during band camp. Either exercise leading up to band camp or making sure that all your medications are up to date. Band camp is very long and it is better for everyone if you are healthy so you can put in your best effort!

Number six- bring bug spray. There are a lot of mosquitos around our
practice field, especially after it rains. You will save yourself a lot of discomfort later on, and you never know when you’ll be bit by a bug you’re allergic too (cough author cough.)

Number seven- get to know everyone! Band camp is a great place to meet other college students who come from many places with a variety of majors. Go to the after-band activities such as SIGMA night where you can learn about the music fraternities/sororities. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to others- especially the directors and officers who want to get to know everyone. There will be some of the best days of your life- work hard, meet new people, and treasure the memories you make. See you in August! Rams.

Photo taken by Joe Luciano. 2013 Mini Camp rehearsal.

Photo taken by Joe Luciano. 2013 Mini Camp rehearsal.