Sophomore Mallory Hayes, Violin Performance, shares about her experience building a chamber ensemble in the summer of 2013.
Tell us a little about the music program you attended this summer.
I attended the Castleman Quartet Program in Fredonia, NY, from June 30 to July 28. There were around 36 participants.
What was your typical daily schedule like?
There were 2 hours of required chamber group rehearsal in the morning, from 8:45 to 10:45, and then 2 hours of required individual practice from 11 to 1. Students were required to practice one more hour each (chamber and individual) in the afternoon. There were three one-hour chamber coachings a week, and one private lesson a week.
Any interesting stories you would like to share?
To encourage chamber group bonding, there was a scavenger hunt that was put together where your team was your quartet. A lot of the tasks involved teamwork, such as “Build a human bridge,” and others just allowed for some really good group bonding time, which is an important aspect of chamber music. If you are able to bond with your quartet away from the rehearsals, the music-making process will be much more enjoyable for you and your quartet and ultimately for the audience.
What was the most enjoyable part of your time in the program?
I’ve always loved chamber music but I’ve never been in a musical environment that was so intensely focused on it. I was allowed to grow as a chamber performer and my love for chamber music grew even more.
What was your biggest challenge?
Working with a group isn’t easy. My group was interesting because we all had very different approaches to music making. We had to compromise a lot and learn to adapt our own individual ideas to the ideas of the rest of the group. We had disagreements (some people were a little grumpy about it… not all of us are morning people) and it was definitely difficult to figure out how to please everyone as well as blend our sounds and ideas in order to create beautiful and convincing music.
How have your experiences helped you as a musician? How will they benefit you in the future?
I learned to be very particular with how I want the music to sound and how to implement my own ideas into the music while still keeping the intention of the composer. I will be able to use these ideas in my current and future musical endeavors (solo and chamber). In addition to chamber music, each student was required to choose a solo piece to learn and perform in the three weeks of the camp. This pushed me to bring a piece up to performance level in such a short time, which encouraged good practice habits, such as focused practice and goal-setting.
Who would you recommend this program to?
I would recommend this program to college students and advanced high school students who are serious about their musical studies. The program catered to students of a pretty high musical caliber.