Marching percussion clinic shines among Iowa State summer camps

ISU students perform at a free concert in the Martha-Ellen Tye Recital Hall for the Yamaha Sounds of Summer Marching Percussion Clinic on June 9, 2013.

Maggie Mcginity

Every summer, as most ISU students flock from campus to hometowns or summer internships, preschool and K-12 students flock to campus for camps, clinics and other educational activities and adventures offered by Iowa State.

There are more than 50 activities for pre-college students happening on the Iowa State campus during the summer. A wide variety of pre-college opportunites are offered, including classes for Talented and Gifted students, sports and fitness camps and chances for personal and vegetable growth in Reiman Gardens.

One of the largest camps held at Iowa State this summer was the Yamaha Sounds of Summer Marching Percussion Clinic. The camp hosted more than 100 aspiring high school percussionists. 

“The Sounds of Summer is a percussion camp that the Yamaha Corporation put together with all of their different clinicians that they sponsor throughout the country,” said David Krogan, general manager for Rieman Music, Inc. “Yamaha makes those clinicians available, and the school and the dealer work together in recruiting to provide a facility for young percussionists to have a place to learn with top corps instructors”

Iowa State’s Sounds of Summer clinic is a partnership between Yamaha Corporation, Rieman Music and the Iowa State University Department of Music and Theatre. It began when Rieman Music was approached by professor Steven Smyth, assistant director of bands at Iowa State, with the idea of hosting a Sounds of Summer camp at Iowa State.

Krogan jumped on the opportunity to work with Iowa State in a new way.

“We’ve had a long relationship with Iowa State and the people and the quality of the folks up here have been fabulous to work with for many years,” Krogan said.

Professor Smyth, director of the Yamaha Sounds of Summer Marching Percussion Clinic at Iowa State, started the camp because he thought it was a program Iowa percussionists needed access to.

“It’s a great opportunity to get lots of young high school drummers and percussionists on campus, and there’s a need for this sort of education in the state,” Smyth said.

Last year’s Sounds of Summer camp, the first Iowa State ever put on, proved Smyth right.

“In our first year, we became the biggest Yamaha Sounds of Summer camp in history,” Smyth said.

The 2012 camp had more than 160 participants, more than four times the Sounds of Summer average of 25-40 participants.

Part of the camp’s success could be attributed to the wide variety of educators and educational opportunities the Iowa State Sounds of Summer clinic provides to students.

“We bring in the best in the nation to teach them, and we separate the drumlines into four lines, so there’s a place for everybody, from ninth graders beginning and learning how to play basics to our advanced line, which are mostly students looking to come here and play in our Iowa State line,” Smyth said.

Among the educators at the camp this year was Jon Weber, a percussion professor at Michigan State University, who directs what Smyth calls “arguably one of the best marching percussion lines in the entire United States.”

The Sounds of Summer clinic at Iowa State gave high school percussionists many ways to improve, including break out sessions to try new percussion instruments. At the end of the camp, students performed in a free concert on June 9, to show off their new skills.

Smyth said even though he’s seen the camp succeed in the past, he expects the camp to grow even more in the future.

“This is a great thing for Iowa State and we hope to continue it for years to come,” he said.