What’s a great way to curb the summer practice blues? As a master’s student from the University of British Columbia, I found the answer to be simple: attend the Dr. Eugene Rousseau Saxophone Workshop at the Shell Lake Arts Center in Shell Lake, Wisconsin! Surrounded by the natural beauty of Shell Lake, the workshop itself was beautiful in many ways. The superb faculty members included Dr. Eugene Rousseau, Dr. Thomas Liley, Dr. David Branter, Dr. Julia Nolan, Dr. Stephen Page, and Mr. Preston Duncan. We were fortunate to also work with the fantastic pianist Cameron Hofmann, bass saxophone extraordinaire Clarke Crandell, and masterful saxophone technician Richard Rees.
Students and saxophone enthusiasts of all ages and abilities attended the workshop. The schedule offered many diverse experiences for all involved and was organized to maximize the potential for each day. Every student received at least one lesson with each of the six faculty members, and extra lessons outside of the day were possible to arrange. We had opportunities to perform in masterclasses, play in a large saxophone ensemble (ranging from sopranino to bass saxophones!), perform in small chamber groups, and attend lectures on the saxophone, maintenance, and practice tips. Every evening was open for camp-like activities or individual practice time. One highlight was hearing each faculty member perform at an evening recital! The week culminated with two student recitals open to the public which featured soloists, chamber ensembles, and the large saxophone ensemble.
My personal experience at Shell Lake was nothing short of pure fun and excitement. Like a child at Christmas, I woke up every morning looking forward to the day’s activities and what I could learn from each faculty member. It was very exciting to be around other driven saxophonists, hear about their experiences, and network. For my chamber experience, I formed a quartet with David Franzel, Tim He, and Michael Davis, all of whom are very talented and determined saxophonists! We relayed our future plans with music, and we certainly enjoyed the competitive camaraderie that developed. A memento of my fantastic experience can be found next to my entry door: a framed workshop poster signed by all of the faculty members which serves as inspiration for when the going gets tough this year!
The opportunities afforded at Shell Lake were priceless, not only for the learning that took place that week but also for the connections with the students and faculty members alike. The music scene is a small world, and the saxophone community smaller yet. I am sure that the relationships I made during this workshop will come full circle somewhere down the road, and I look forward to working with the faculty members and my colleagues in the future.