LAWRENCE – In December, the University of Kansas School of Music presented a woodwind clinic for more than 100 high school students in Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools (KCKPS). The half-day event held at Washington High School allowed students to develop and reinforce fundamental skills, play alongside neighboring high school musicians, practice audition material and learn more about the KU School of Music.
KU faculty conducting the clinic were Vince Gnojek, professor of saxophone; Margaret Marco, professor of oboe; Eric Stomberg, professor of bassoon; Stephanie Zelnick, associate professor of clarinet and Brian Allred, a graduate teaching assistant for flute. Participating high schools included F.L. Schlagle, J.C. Harmon, Sumner Academy, Washington and Wyandotte. KU student recruiter Emily Henry talked to the students about music degree programs, ensembles and the audition process. School of Music student ambassadors Andre Womack (music education and saxophone) and Melissa Kilgard (music therapy and flute) shared with the high school students their experiences as music majors.
Jodie Lin, KCKPS coordinator of fine arts, and Bronwyn Short, KCKPS woodwind specialist, invited KU faculty to present the clinic. Among other benefits, Short said the event helped bridge the gap between high school and college music programs.
"It was so rewarding to hear the students talk about their experiences and to see their eyes shining while they were learning from true experts,” she said. “Our high school teachers have also expressed how valuable the clinic was for them.”
The KU connection with the school district is thanks to KU alumnus Brandon McCray, a minister and saxophonist in churches throughout the United States. A former student at Schlagle, McCray continues to be involved with the school’s band program and encouraged Gnojek and Martin Bergee, associate dean for academic affairs, to work with the musicians. After attending a KU woodwind clinic at Schlagle in the fall of 2016, Short wanted to do something similar for the entire district.
“This is a valuable collaboration between the School of Music and the Kansas City Kansas Public Schools,” Gnojek said. “It presents us the opportunity to connect with talented students who may not have had a prior interest in KU. Now that they have had the chance to work with us, several of them will put KU on their list of schools to consider. We will certainly benefit from these recruiting activities.”