GRAMBLING – In 1960 Grambling State University legendary band director Dr. Conrad Hutchinson formed a band camp for high school and junior high school students. Fifty-four years later the tradition continues. Under the direction of Dr. Larry Pannell and his band camp staff, future musicians and possibly future Gramblinites are trained to improve their musicianship.
This year the camp has 475 students who traveled from Minnesota, Missouri, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana to take part in marching and educational sessions. Band Director Dr. Larry Pannell stated, “I am happy to have the camp back into existence and we are looking forward to getting back up to 800 students or more per camp year. The camp has come a long way from the old Dunbar Hall to the state-of-the-art Conrad Hutchinson Performing Arts building. We are able to teach our style of music so that the kids can go back home and share what they learned at camp, the Grambling way.”
The students experience college life and have access to a state-of-the-art facility. Trae Smith, a 13 year old camper from Tulsa, Oklahoma who plays saxophone said, “They teach me a better way to play the saxophone. I kind of sucked in the beginning but I am getting a lot better. I enjoy being here. This is my first time and I will be back next year.”
Camp director and alumnus Israel Charles, Class of ’88 stated, “One of the things we like most is that the kids are cooperative and are enjoying themselves. This is my third year as camp director; I attended the camp as a student leader in the mid-1980’s. We use the camp as a recruiting tool and many good musicians have come to Grambling. Our priority though is to make the student a better musician, appreciate the facilities for learning, come to know the campus and be a part of the band.”
Before the campers leave on Saturday they will be able to show off their skills and talents in a talent show scheduled for Thursday. The closing program will be an opportunity for folks on campus to come by the block party and listen to different band group’s show off their newly learned skills by beginners or advanced campers.
Grambling State University band camp is scheduled each year on the second week of July. Musical activities include are: concert band, marching band, jazz ensemble, orchestra, elementary theory and brass/percussion/woodwind and beginners band. The band camp instructors include university band personnel as well as high school and junior high school band directors. For additional information and to register for next year’s camp contact the university at 318-274-6257 or 318-274-6160, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Grambling State University Marching Band, P.O. Box 4238, GSU, Grambling, LA 71245.