Band clinic hits perfect note with potential student
By Mackenzie Grant
Jake Mann always knew he wanted to pursue music as a career. As a high school senior, committed to Furman University, Mann attended the University of South Carolina’s Band Clinic because practice makes perfect.
But the clarinet player was hooked. The weekend presented a new college opportunity; one his Gamecock alum mother welcomed.
The School of Music staff helped him apply and get auditions in order, to make sure he called Columbia his new home.
“I was really surprised by the close relationships that I built,” Mann says of his professors and peers.
One of Mann’s biggest supporters is director of bands Scott Weiss. Along with helping students like Mann make the decision to come to Carolina, Weiss conducts wind ensemble, teaches graduate classes and oversees all of the university’s band programs.
Since Weiss arrived four years ago, the music program has grown in recognition and participation.
“We’re starting to be more selective," Weiss says. "The football team isn’t putting everyone out there. The critical mass of students allows us to have higher standards.”
While four concert bands, marching band, volleyball and basketball bands keep Weiss busy, the most time-consuming and rewarding aspect of his job is recruitment. Through posters, mail, school visits and high school conducting gigs, Weiss travels the Southeast in search of the best musicians.
The School of Music and The Carolina Band are separate, but the publicity from each assists the other.
The Carolina Band, most popularly known as the Mighty Sound of the Southeast, performs at every home football game and some away games. Students audition and participate in a Carolina Band class, for which they receive academic credit. But students are not required to be music majors to participate in The Carolina Band; in fact, most band members are not music majors.
“Carolina band is not about training future band directors; it’s about entertaining the 85,000 screaming fans at William-Brice,” says Weiss.
Junior baritone saxophone player Austin Howard says the Carolina Band keeps him busy, but allows him the unique opportunity to meet people from all aspects of the university that share a common interest.
Like Mann, Howard attended the university's band clinic in high school and saw the most opportunities at Carolina.
“Everything is really starting up here. It’s up and coming,” says Howard.
Even though this year’s band clinic had to be canceled due to inclement weather, Weiss says the interest in his program continues to grow.
As the School of Music enters its highly intensive audition season, students like Mann encourage prospective Gamecocks to grow along with the program.
“I never wanted to go to a big school, but USC’s School of Music is more like a family,” says Mann. “You can make a big school small, but you can’t make a small school big.”
Auditions began March 1 and will continue throughout the spring.
Visit the University of South Carolina's School of Music website to learn more about degree and band opportunities.
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