By Faith Mountain
The sound of the clarinet and bass clarinet penetrated the doors of the playing room and could be heard in the lobby of the Connie Niemann Center for Music recently. Inside those doors, you would see sunlight coming in through the stained-glass windows and coats and instrument cases lining the walls. Small groups gathered behind the audience with very few seats remaining open. The chairs filled with community members, students, alumni and participants, all gathered to listen to the music featured in the recitals and concert.
College, high school and junior high students showed up Saturday morning, ready for a day of playing the clarinet, as part of the fourth annual Clarinet Day, sponsored by Quincy University’s Music Department.
“I see the same students coming back. They all love clarinet and they all love music,” Dr. Christine Damm said.
Junior high and high school students spent most of the morning learning musical pieces with Damm, QU assistant professor of music.
“We got a lot of (musical) pieces. Normally she (Damm) said they don’t do them all,” junior high student Ellie Ten Eyck said. “They (the musical pieces) are challenging, but we are playing them all for our concert.”
Several QU students assisting with Clarinet Day attended the event prior to entering college themselves.
“I had taken private lessons with Dr. Damm for five years, but it (Clarinet Day) was the first time I had been to the Connie Niemann Center for Music,” Austin Kohlhepp said. “Now, I can just see it in the high school students. They’re like, ‘Oh wow. These are really like the top players and this is really cool and really good to hear. It gets them interested in playing.”
Clarinet Day provides junior high and high school students with the opportunity to play clarinet music instead of the band music some might be used to. The event shows students what it is like to play in a clarinet group, like QU’s Reed Between the Lines Clarinet Quartet.
“I want to play clarinet in high school and maybe college,” junior high student Marissa Burdick said. “More events like this (Clarinet Day) might help me when deciding on college.”
Following the initial practice and lunch, Damm performed a free and public recital featuring piano and harp accompanists. Damm performed several musical pieces, made more difficult by adapting pieces made for other instruments to clarinet. Towards the end, Damm dedicated one piece to her mother who had died 1 ½ years ago of cancer.
After Damm’s performance, the parents of the nearly 20 Clarinet Day participants began to enter the Connie Niemann Center to watch.
The Clarinet Choir/Quartet followed Damm’s performance after a brief recess. The Clarinet Choir/Quartet showcased QU clarinet players and demonstrated to participants where they could be if the participants continued to pursue playing the clarinet.
To end the event, Clarinet Day participants performed their musical pieces at the final concert.