This weekend, the 2009 Penn State Jazz Festival will host masterclasses and professional jazz musicians in hopes of inspiring and motivating young musicians.
The entire student-run event is expecting high school jazz bands from around the region to participate in this weekend's activities.
High school attendees aren't the only ones hoping to gain some insight from these musicians.
Charlie Heim (graduate-music
education) said he was excited
for the weekend for more selfish reasons.
"These are legit-pro guys," Heim said. "Everyone is going to get the chance to check out a lot of good music."
Heim said he is most looking forward to working with the professionals first-hand.
Alex Heppelman (sophomore-music composition) is the Jazz Festival director. He said this weekend will be a great opportunity for everyone to gain some professional knowledge in the field of jazz. The keynote guests this year are pianist Cyrus Chestnut and saxophonist Tim Warfield.
Along with critiquing the bands and giving masterclasses, Chestnut and Warfield will also perform with long-time Jazz Festival participant and bass-player Tom Baldwin and Penn State faculty member Ronny Deurrge on drums.
Heppelman said he's looking forward to this ensemble performance the most.
"I can't wait to get to see them working and playing together," he said, adding he has many expectations for the event, and he really wants the students to benefit from the event.
"Hopefully they will learn something about music and how to improve their playing," he said.
Heim plays drums in Friday night's main performance, Centre Dimensions -- Penn State's top jazz ensemble. He's both an active musician, director of another jazz ensemble and is a teaching assistant in the jazz department.
Corey McClinton (sophomore-music education) said this opportunity is going to be a "major deal" for high school students. The workshops are going to be particularly helpful for blossoming jazz musicians, he added.
"They give good direction -- play this style, play it this way," McClinton said.
He said one aspect that will be particularly helpful for the bands is when the commissions listen to performers and administer advice after they play.
In addition to giving advice, the guest comissions also record comments into a tape recorder for the students to review after the weekend.
"It's a lot of [heavy breathing in the tape recorder] and then the occasional 'Trumpets need to come out more at that part,' " McClinton said. "But it is still really helpful advice."
Heim said the fact the festival is entirely run by students sets it apart from others.
"It gives the whole weekend a good vibe," he said. "There are a lot more students around than faculty. It provides a different environment."