Leadership and Service Through Music
Week 1: Development of an Internal Community
Students will work alongside faculty, to study their assigned repertoire and bring it to performance level. We will strive to create an internal community on multiple levels: community within each student ensemble, community amongst the larger student group, and community amongst the entire Institute family (students, faculty, and staff).
During Week 1 students will be deeply immersed in the study of chamber music. Each student will be thoughtfully assigned two ensembles with repertoire appropriate to the group’s level, one ensemble from each of the following:
- A groups - traditional instrumentation, e.g. string quartet, piano trio, wind/brass quintet, etc.
- B groups - mixed instrumentation, e.g. Stravinsky Septet, Prokofiev Quintet, Copland Quintet
Each group will have daily rehearsals and coachings with members of Decoda faculty. As the groups hone their musical interpretations, technical issues such as rhythm, group pulse, intonation, tone, articulation, phrasing, and blending will be addressed. The rehearsals and coachings will extend beyond the simple study of repertoire, delving into the challenges and interpersonal skills required to perform chamber music at the highest level. These areas include leadership, teamwork, communication, conflict resolution, organization, and time management.
Throughout the Institute there will be master classes, faculty performances, workshops, and evening sessions called "Free Play", which relate to life as a musician. Free Play activities may include yoga, Alexander Technique, chamber music readings, and movie night. Students will be invited to observe an open rehearsal of Decoda, allowing them an inside look into the rehearsal dynamic of a professional ensemble. Decoda faculty will host daily "Town Halls" which will prepare students in the areas of leadership and team-building. Week 1 will culminate in a chamber music "marathon" performance, allowing all of the ensembles to perform for one another and a public audience.
Week 2: Engaging and Serving the External Community
Students will create and perform their own "Interactive Performance" scripts, and present a public performance in a community based setting. During Week 1, students will have already observed an Interactive Performance demonstration by members of Decoda and will have had multiple "Town Hall" meetings that have prepared them for these new experiences and community engagement.
A and B groups will each be assigned one of the following paths (ensuring that each student will participate in both):
Interactive Performances - Working closely with Decoda faculty, ensembles will develop and script Interactive
Performances. Writing a script of this nature will challenge students to look at
a work of art from a removed perspective, attempting to understand what it is about
a piece of music that makes it speak to them, and how one might use these findings
as a pathway into the music for different audiences. From this perspective, they
will conceive a performance, coached by faculty, that will feature various activities
and experiences related to the music designed to prepare audience members to fully
immerse themselves in a longer performance of the work. The techniques learned in
this process will allow students to craft similar shows for education purposes for
audiences of all ages (especially children) while also challenging them to explore
thoughts on how they might incorporate some of these elements into the traditional
These Interactive Performances will be performed in a workshop setting that will be open to the public at the end of week two.
Community Engagement - Students will present and perform their pieces at non- traditional community based performing spaces in and around Skidmore College. These venues may include schools, hospitals, retirement communities, or town centers. Decoda faculty will help prepare the students for the challenges and opportunities of performing in these types of spaces. Coachings will include discussions on public speaking, introducing a piece of music, and connecting with different kinds of audiences. Following the performances, the students will reflect collectively on the experience to share successes and possible difficulties.