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Leadership and Service Through Music

Students in Performance

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. Repertoire will range from standard works of the classical canon to contemporary works of living composers.  

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 daily Town Halls, which relate to life as a musician. Town Hall topics may include speaking from the stage, life after conservatory, and performance practice. Students will be invited to observe open rehearsals of Decoda, allowing them an inside look into the rehearsal dynamic of a professional ensemble. Week 1 will culminate in a chamber music 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 learn how to “frame” or contextualize their performances. They will have the opportunity to present public performances for a wide variety of audiences in community based settings. During Week 1, students will have already observed several framing techniques by members of Decoda and will have had multiple Town Hall meetings that will 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 of a performance 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 concert experience.

These Interactive Performances will be performed in a workshop setting that will be open to the public at the end of week 2.

Community Engagement - Students will present and perform their pieces at non-traditional community based performing spaces in and around the Saratoga Springs community. 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.