Northern Michigan University students play for intercollegiate band

Heidi Robitaille

Northern Michigan University had a select few students play in the 2012 North Central Division Conference of the College Band Directors National Association.

The conference was held from Feb. 23 to 25 in Mount Pleasant, Mich. NMU students were selected to perform in an intercollegiate band the last day of the conference.

“In November, I nominated from students from our band to participate,” Stephen Grugin, Director of Bands said. “Eight of our students were selected to participate.”

The Intercollegiate Band was selected from colleges in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and Iowa. It is a division conference held every two years. On the off years, a national conference is held.

The intercollegiate band performed at Central Michigan University’s Staples Family Concert Hall. Students selected to be a part of the intercollegiate band were notified in January.

“They obtained the music and practiced diligently,” Grugin said. “They practiced individually; I didn’t work with them.”

The students left for Mount Pleasant and the next day, they had auditions to determine their seating in the band, while majority of the other days consisted of practicing their instruments.

“For me going to the intercollegiate band you get to experience making music with other people,” said Ashley Kooyers, junior trumpet player. “It means something different to everybody, but you still have the same goal.”

Russel C. Mikkelson was the 2012 North Central Division intercollegiate band conductor. He is the director of bands at Ohio State University.

“It’s just good to have the opportunity to play quality college literature with outstanding musicians from across the Midwest who have the same goal of performing at an excellent level,” said Lance Dubay, senior tuba player.

The students practiced about three and a half hours the first day. On the second day, they practiced six hours.

“It’s also a different experience to be in a group that’s willing to rehearse that much in one day,” Kooyers said.

While the group was there, band directors attended musical workshops and clinical sessions, and everyone listened to outstanding music.

“There were performances of top bands selected,” Grugin said. “It was a really great opportunity for our students and they had a chance to perform with many other outstanding college level students.”

Most of the honor band was comprised of music majors, and NMU had a few non-music majors selected to perform as well.

“I will be a music teacher, K-12 music and band,” Dubay said. “Through music I will help students develop a sense of teamwork, cooperation, and an excellent work ethic.”

Kooyers has been to the intercollegiate band twice. The last time was when she was a freshman.

“Music can make you feel something different, and it means something different to everybody,” Kooyers said. “I’ve done everything but the percussion ensemble.”

Kooyers and Dubay both play in NMU’s marching band, pep band and symphonic band. They have both performed with the Marquette Symphony Orchestra.

“I’ve done everything but jazz band,” Dubay said. “Michigan State blew our minds.”

Wind ensembles from Michigan State University, Wayne State University, Eastern Michigan University, Ohio University, Drake University and Central Michigan University were selected to perform, along with the Detroit Symphony Chamber Winds.

“Through attending the conference, we heard a lot of really great new music, some of which I’ve already brought back to our band here at Northern,” Grugin said.