The Charles Castleman Quartet Program Experience: (44th annual season)
I would like to tell you guys about my experience at The Castleman Quartet Program, The Quartet Program is located on the SUNY Fredonia Campus in New York State (where I was located for 7 weeks, summer of 2013)
The Castleman Quartet Program is as unique as they come. I think what really separates this program from other music camps is the people. Everyone has a mission to soak up as much musical information as they can, practice as much as they can, and meet as many new people as they can. These people ARE the classical music world, the same people who might be my stand partner in a professional orchestra, chamber music group or teachers of a conservatory.
It’s one thing to stick a person in a practice room and expect them to learn a whole bunch of music but signing up for practice-help is always welcomed by the lovely faculty. This helps with preventing bad habits and keeping the technique of the violin fresh at all times. You will not have another opportunity to practice with such high quality as you would anywhere else. My peers can attest that this program ranks as one of the top high quality camps out there. We enjoyed the ironclad contract of having fun, but still working as hard as we possibly can to make amazing music together!
I do have to admit when arriving at the festival, it was inevitable that I would get nervous from not knowing what to expect. When reading the itinerary, it comes across as a music boot camp. I imagined a strict music instructor yelling, resentful, and unreasonable but it was the complete opposite; students can actually talk back? After being chauffeured from the airport by Allison Dawkins (teacher of the program), she explained to me that this is the place where she learned how to practice. This place really teaches you how to teach yourself. A coach will often ask a student, “Actually, how do you think this is supposed to be played?” My built-up anxiety simmered down after realizing we were all learning from each other, including the teachers.
One of the popular episodes of the program was listening to Charles Castleman himself give a solo recital in Rosch Recital Hall, making my hairs stand on top of my hand in amazement – in his 70’s still playing the same way he played when he was 10 years old on the Frank Sinatra Show. Quite remarkable witnessing an example of good practice and how it helps with longevity.
I was very disappointed that the program wasn’t longer than 7 weeks but look forward to applying the skills that were taught to me over that span of time. It was for sure an honor to prepare for my August 9th recital with Mr. Castleman.