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Tech Summer Music Festival Alumnus Revives Program

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Tech Summer Music Festival Alumnus Revives Program

Rachel Smalling became involved in Tech’s Southeastern Chamber Music Institute in high school.

Smalling participated in the program for three years and consequently enrolled in Tech’s music program as a university student.

A four year summer internship at Sewanee’s music festival gave Smalling experience in the administrative side of music festivals. So when Tech’s summer chamber program dissolved around 2016, she reacted.

“That made me really sad,” Smalling said. “And I felt like I had the skills in administration and communication to bring that back. So in 2019 we brought that festival back after it had been away for 3 or 4 years.

Smalling said 2019 was the first year of the new music festival, Summer Music Institute, and then COVID happened. She said they went away for a couple of years and then last year was the first year back in person.

Smalling said the Institute offers a week long intensive music program for high school students in the area, as well as a recruitment program for Tech.

“They learn to play with their peers, and they learn to play in groups, and they learn leadership skills and all of that stuff,” Smalling said. “Because then after they three days of rehearsing they go out on stage and perform this piece that they’ve been working on.”

Smalling said the intense schedule followed by the festival performance can be a very scary thing for the first time for some students. Smalling said additionally the students spend time playing in larger ensembles, in private lessons, and in studio working on technique and skills.

“It kind of gives them a little five day taste of this is what it would be like if I choose this career path,” Smalling said.

Smalling said it is very rewarding to see the students have this experience for the week.


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