Our summer sessions are the primary way we meet as an educational community. Each five day session is a wholly immersive learning experience that provides tremendous opportunities for growth as a performing artist and a member of the global community of traditional Scottish music and culture. Setting aside nearly a full week may be difficult with all the many ways our lives become busy, however you will find no better way to make major strides than removing those distractions that keep you from progressing so dynamically as you will during any of our courses.
For each session, check-in will occur between 12:00pm and 2:00pm on the Sunday afternoon. While students get settled into their accommodations, our instructors hold placement auditions in order to be able to tailor each class to meet every individual member’s wants and needs over the course of the session. We don’t always get it right on the first try, so even after placements occur and the week gets underway, we are happy to move students between classes to ensure everyone is not only happy with their workgroup but also being properly challenged by the subject matter.
Once auditions are complete, an orientation meeting – called The Gathering – is held to allow faculty and students to assemble as a learning community, to establish and discuss the direction of the session, and to distribute information critical to a successful week. With introductions made, we have our first dinner together as a session family (which is included in every package).
On Sunday evening, all classes meet briefly with each instructor to discuss the course and repertoire selections and ensure instruments are in good order for the days ahead. Then from Monday morning onward, the daily schedule is rather dynamic starting with a Gold Zone meeting at 8:45am and carrying on through about 9pm each evening. The program includes a lot of classroom instruction augmented by group lectures, recitals, mixed community activities, and a lot more.
It is important to note that we pay careful attention to creating an agenda that balances active learning periods and passive study periods. This allows our students to have time for personal practice, perhaps a chance to work with their classmates, or even just to take a bit of respite with a nap or campus walk to alleviate the stresses of a very busy week of piping and drumming. Being in the right head space is important to being able to make the kind of progress we will be guiding you through, so having a bit of time to yourself is just as important as the hours in our classrooms.
The learning program culminates in a concert on Thursday evening which features every student participating in some manner of performance. This is a highly entertaining opportunity for members of the local community to enjoy some piping and drumming, as well as for family members of our students to see the progresses made throughout the week. Most importantly it is a rewarding experience for students to realize how far each has come past the challenges of the prior days. Students who have had anxiety about performing with such a short preparation time have often had the greatest feelings of pride once the unwavering goal has been accomplished on Thursday evening.
Finally after closing classes on Friday morning, our graduation ceremony is held at 11:00am. Every student receives their certificate of completion, and special recognitions are given by the faculty and staff who have carefully monitored the development of all the students throughout the program. Family members are welcome and encouraged to attend to see loved ones receiving the rewards of an intense learning experience.
Once graduation has finished, contact details have been exchanged, good-byes are said, and more than a few handshakes and hugs given, students are able to check-out of the session … until next year of course!