Tooting their own horn

Shepherd students spend summer close to their instruments

Shepherd students spend summer close to their instruments

September 09, 2002|by KATE COLEMAN

What did four Shepherd College music majors do with their summer vacation?

They did not work jobs in construction or pizza parlors. They did not bask on beaches and work on their tans.

But they worked - incredibly hard - and learned about music, their abilities and their passions. They sharpened their skills and their focus. Frank Gorecki, Angela Weadon, Adam Hanlin and David Shipley went the distance for their music - and then some.

Shepherd has just a few more than 100 music majors. Most large colleges have between 400 and 800, says Mark McCoy, chair of Shepherd's Music Department. "We encourage a year-round commitment," he says.


The students at the small college in Shepherdstown, West Virginia's oldest town, competed with students from much larger music programs at much larger institutions and grabbed spots in four nationally renowned music programs.

Previous Shepherd students have garnered honors, McCoy says, but to have four of them selected in one year is impressive.

Angela Weadon, a 22-year-old senior from Pocahantas County, W.Va., plays the French horn. On the basis of taped auditions and recommendations, she was chosen to participate in the eight-week Bay View Summer Music Festival and Conservatory in Bay View, Mich.

What's that near?

"Nothing," Weadon says with a grin.

Not that she had much time for sightseeing. Musicians received small ensemble assignments at the beginning of each week and practiced and practiced for Friday public performances. They played in concerto and aria competitions and for the festival's production of "South Pacific." Other participants came to Bay View from all over the country, and there were three students from Mexico, Weadon says.

Weadon has considered teaching, but her summer experience has her leaning toward graduate school. "My heart is in performing," she says.

Adam Hanlin, 20, didn't spend his summer at home in Hagerstown. He went to Disneyland and stayed there from June 1 through mid-August.

One of only 20 students selected in nationwide auditions, Hanlin landed the plum jazz solo chair - one of four trumpet spots in the Disneyland All-American College Band.

He calls his summer a "life-changing experience."

There were daily clinics from noon to 3 p.m. - led by guest professional musicians. There was choreography to be learned and lots of music to be practiced. Hanlin and the band played five sets a day.

"Sure it was hard," he says, but the experience only strengthens his musical resolve. He hopes to work straight through graduate school to a doctorate and wants to teach music at the college level. And he will play his jazz horn - improvising and seeing what happens.

David Shipley, 21, also plays trumpet. A Shepherd senior, he never had been in a marching band until he came to college. His high school alma mater, Archbishop Hurley in Baltimore, didn't have one.

In the last year that he would meet age eligibility, he decided to audition for Drum Corps International, a nonprofit youth organization that takes young marching bands all over the county, teaching, drilling and performing in hundreds of cities.

He made the cut and spent the summer with 139 others, traveling as far north as Rhode Island and Connecticut, all the way down to Florida and Texas.

His troupe slept on gymnasium floors in sleeping bags, but those were luxury quarters compared to the bus seat into which he scrunched his 6-foot-3-inch frame for many, many miles. The Cadets, Shipley's unit, practiced 10 hours a day and performed 30 shows, some of them in 105-degree Texas heat.

"It was a blast," Shipley says.

He also is sold on a career in music - thinking about the U.S. Navy band.

The experiences of the four students were different, but they came out with similar results.

"I am so incredibly psyched about making music and sharing it with people," Gorecki says.

His fellow Shepherd music students are in harmony with that.

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