Bradley's Central Illinois Summer Band Camp teaches 'Five Ts'

June 24, 2011

Bradley's seventh annual Central Illinois Summer Band Camp was held from June 13-17. More than 70 students in grades six through eight who live in the Central Illinois area were in attendance.

"The benefit of the camp for students is the reinforcement of fundamental musical skills that are necessary to excel and grow as a musician. We focus on what we call the 'Five Ts' -Time, Tuning, Tone, Taste, and Technique," said Dr. David Vroman, director of the camp and chair of the Department of Music at Bradley.

Vroman believes that Time is perhaps the most important of the "Five Ts."

"Timing should be on your mind at all times when you're playing," Vroman said.

He admits that Tuning is nearly as important. It's difficult to get an instrument correctly tuned but can be just as difficult to keep it tuned. Tone deals with melody and is fundamental. It is often related to the musician's breathing and how full or relaxed the breaths are.

Taste can be the hardest of the "Five Ts" to teach.

"It's that unconscious intuition that something is 'right' to you and actually playing it that way, regardless of how many notes you could have inserted. It's the difference between music and noise, making music human and giving expression," Vroman said 

The final "T" -technique- refers to what is actually being played. No matter how good a musician is, he or she never quits practicing the basics.

"Every day you should work on technique through scale exercises, arpeggios, slurring, tonguing, and singing. Work with a metronome and listen for evenness of your fingers and coordination between your tongue and your fingers," Vroman said.

"The greatest musicians practice the 'Ts' religiously, especially the first four, even if it sounds like they're practicing only the last one," Vroman said.

Although the students that attend the camp learn a great deal, Bradley also benefits.

"Bradley gains a recognition that we support our community and school music programs," Vroman said. "Some of the students who attend the camp will attend other Bradley events throughout the year. And we have seen some of these students attend Bradley."

Vroman hopes participants are inspired to apply what they learned.

"We also hope that they gain a renewed spirit of curiosity about music and a real motivation toward their own individual musical progress," Vroman said.

Although the camp had serious goals, there was also plenty of fun. The theme of this year's camp was "Super Heroes." Daily dress-up themes included Support your favorite Super Hero, The Real Heroes, Darkness and Doom, and You Are Your Own Hero. The final day was titled The League of Sections and included a large performance for the participants' families.