Making music child’s play

Oakland University will be hosting daylong music intensive events this January and February in an effort to invite younger students and allow them to taste music on a university level.

The intensives will be hosted by the Department of Music, Theater and Dance, and will feature hands-on opportunities as well as coaching by professional musicians and educators.

Deneen V. Stapleton, outreach coordinator for the department, explained that the intensives are a chance to build a relationship between high school students and OU.

“It is a recruiting tool to try to engage the high school students early and often and hopefully build a relationship with them,” Stapleton said. “We want them to come join us and have an enjoyable experience with us.”

There will be four different intensives for the winter semester and they include Woodwinds Day, Voice Day, Percussion Day and Piano Day.

The events started out with Woodwinds Day, and featured Detroit Symphony musicians Sharon Sparrow, Jeffery Zook and Shannon Orme. There was also a special guest, Christopher Hill, who is the principal clarinetist of the South Dakota Symphony, a clarinetist with the Dakota Woodwind Quintet and famous clarinet mouthpiece designer.

Oakland, Eastern Michigan and high school students alike participated in performances, and were given advice and constructive criticism from the special guest musician

s and teachers. Master classes were also held and taught by the guests, as well as a performance by Hill in the evening.

George Stoffan, associate professor of clarinet and coordinator of the Woodwinds Day, explained the significance of the critiques and classes for both the students performing and those watching.

“As a third party, they get a perspective they don’t get every day,” he said. “For the person performing, they have the opportunity to perform in front of people and receive instruction from the outside, getting a fresh perspective and unvarnished feedback.”

According to Stoffan, the intensives benefit both students and the school.

“It is an important component of outreach for the department and the university as a whole. We get students to campus, who would perhaps otherwise not have a reason to visit campus,” he said. “It is important to promote the visibility and viability of what we do here.”

Voice Day will be the next intensive at OU; it will feature activities and lessons aimed at crafting and maintaining a healthy voice.

Lead by Dr. Adam Rubin, M.D., laryngologist, and Dr. Cristina Menaldi, speech and language pathologist, who will both explain the not only how to sing properly but how to maintain a proper singing voice.

Students will also be able to interact and learn from husband and wife team, Drs. Alta and Drake Dantzler.  Both Alta and Drake are well known singers in opera as well as teachers of voice.

Percussion Day will be held the following week, on Jan. 28, and is packed full of different activities, led and taught by a plethora of different instructors.

Activities will include clinics in South Indian drumming, jazz, Ghanaian drumming, Kalimba drumming and performances by Joe Reilly and Sandy Mabery.

The intensives for the winter semester will wrap up with the Piano Day, which will be held on Feb. 4. Piano Day will offer private diagnostic lessons with OU piano faculty, allowing students to perform a couple pieces, receiving feedback and get help in perfecting their pieces.

“They’re like mini-diagnostics. The students get to perform a couple of pieces, we split the group into three groups and we give them lessons,” said Becky Happel, instructor of piano at OU. “Some of (the students) are applying and auditioning for schools. It’s a way (for the students) to get a different perspective and perform and develop their piece.”

Piano Day is available to all ages, not just high school or college students, and has an application fee of $30.

For general information about the intensives, ticket prices, availability and eligibility, contact Deneen Stapleton at [email protected] or call the Department of Music, Theater and Dance at 248-370-2030.

Future Music Days 

Voice Day

Saturday, Jan. 14

Professor John-Paul White [email protected]

Percussion Day

Saturday, Jan. 28

Professor Mark Stone [email protected]

Piano Day

Saturday, Feb. 4

Professor Becky Happel [email protected]


Contact senior reporter Jordan Gonzalez via e-mail at [email protected]