Uncommon_TimeYesterday, I visited the orchestra division. In their 10:10 a.m. session, the students participated in a fiddle master class with Time for Three’s Nick Kendall and Ranaan Meyer. The orchestra track faculty worked with the students as well, and included conductor Richard Auldon Clark, Director of Instrumental Activities at Butler University and Artistic Director and Conductor of the Butler Symphony Orchestra.

When I walked in, a beautiful, cohesive string sound washed over me. The students were busy rehearsing a piece called “Ogden,” written by Ranaan Meyer and Josh Fobare, pianist. Students played fluid, powerful lines over a steady, hip-hop backbeat – music that fits the mold of Time for Three’s category-shattering style.

Time for Three blends jazz, funk, pop, country western and gypsy music and often quickly moves from these unique genres to a calm, deliberate classical sound. They transcend traditional classification, forming a musical blend all their own. The members – Zachary (Zach) De Pue, violin; Nicolas (Nick) Kendall, violin; and Ranaan Meyer, double bass — carry a passion for improvisation, composing and arranging, all prime elements of the ensemble’s playing. Two of the three members, Kendall and Meyer, are present on site at camp this week to work and perform with the students.

The orchestra ensemble was extremely cohesive after only a few days together. One major item the students were working on in yesterday’s session was movement and communication.

“Can you communicate [with your audience] when you play?” Clark asked. “Don’t be statues.”

Clark told the students to watch Kendall and Meyer. As they played, they were moving constantly, communicating the emotions of the piece through their playing.

I couldn’t help but think about one of my favorite quotes – “Music has a way of finding the big, invisible moving pieces inside our hearts and souls and helping us figure out the position of things inside us.”

This quote comes from Karl Paulnack, who delivered the 2004 Welcome Address to parents of incoming music students at the Boston Conservatory. The first time I read this welcome address, it really moved me, and it has become one of my favorite passages. As a musician myself, music has always held a special place in my heart. But, this address really helped me realize that it’s so much more than that.

In his speech, Paulnack says, “If we were a medical school, and you were here as a med student practicing appendectomies, you’d take your work very seriously because you would imagine that some night at 2:00 a.m. someone is going to waltz into your emergency room, and you’re going to have to save their life. Well, my friends, someday at 8:00 p.m. someone is going to walk into your concert hall and bring you a mind that is confused, a heart that is overwhelmed, a soul that is weary. Whether they go out whole again will depend partly on how well you do your craft.”

If you’re interested in reading the full transcript of Karl Paulnack’s speech on this subject, you can find it here.

Watching the orchestra students learn how to communicate emotion through music really got me thinking about this concept and the emotional importance of music. It was very interesting to see the students engaged in learning this important life and music lesson.

After a full day of sessions, students saw Jon McLaughlin in concert last night. McLaughlin, an Indiana native, is known for experimenting with different genres and styles to create a sound that is completely unique. Born and raised in Anderson, Indiana, the singer/songwriter began taking classical piano lessons at an early age and is classically trained. His song “So Close” from the “Enchanted” soundtrack was nominated for an Academy Award.

His classical training mixes in a unique style to provide piano melodies within a pop/rock framework. McLaughlin’s performance got me thinking about the orchestra session. His lyrics and the energy he puts in to his performances really communicate to the audience. Again, the idea of communication through music popped into my head – that seemed to be the common theme of my day!

McLaughlin performed several of his standard, popular songs, including “Industry,” “Beating My Heart,” “Beautiful Disaster,” and “Indiana,” a track which surely resonated with his hometown audience.

McLaughlin has a new album coming out in September, and our campers had a truly special opportunity last night. McLaughlin and his band performed two completely new, never-heard-before tracks from his upcoming album.

After the concert, McLaughlin graciously stayed to meet all students and fans, pausing to shake hands and sign autographs with anyone who asked.

More exciting sessions and concerts will happen today and in the final days of Symposium. I hope to get out on campus today to visit several other student divisions and tell you more about what’s happening on campus.