Source: Kurt Gartner, 785-532-3808, kgartner@k-state.edu
Hometown connection: Arkansas City, Dodge City, Hutchinson, Junction City, Lenexa, Louisburg, McPherson, Olathe, Overland Park, Parker, Shawnee, Topeka and Wichita, Kan.; Longmont, Colo.; and Oswego, Ill.
Note to editor: Bryce Craig is a graduate of Olathe North High School.

Monday, Dec. 19, 2011

In tune with the times: Music students play finals for virtual audience of professional musicians

MANHATTAN -- Just call them virtual virtuosos.

For their final performance exams on Dec. 12, applied percussion students at Kansas State University had to play before a virtual panel of professional musicians, including a retired member of the New York Philharmonic.

Kurt Gartner, professor of percussion, seeks to enrich the final exam experience each year by connecting his students with professional musicians via video conference. Morris "Arnie" Lang, a member of the New York Philharmonic's percussion section from 1955 to 1995 and a member of the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame, headed this year's slate of panelists.

"Our students appreciate the insights and different perspectives of our guest panelists," Gartner said. "Students get to perform with a sense that the red light is on, and they get brief master class experiences that keep them on the best professional paths."

Using consumer-grade video conference platforms, Gartner is able to bring in several panelists each year, eliminating time and distance of travel as factors. In addition to Lang, this year's panel included: Steve Barnhart, professor of percussion at the University of Wyoming; Mark Botti, freelance percussionist from Chicago; Jeffrey Crowell, associate professor of percussion at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire; Jeff Hewitt, Kansas State University alumnus and doctoral candidate at the University of Arizona; and Allan Molnar, instructor of music at Lehman College, City University of New York.

"Our experiences with video conferences have always been positive. Playing their exams for pros sharpens our students' skills and plugs them right into the professional community," Gartner said. "You bet we'll be doing this again."

Students performing included:

Michael Sturd, senior in applied music, Arkansas City; Brett Eichman, sophomore in music education, Dodge City.

From Greater Kansas City: Drew Szczesny, junior in music and electrical engineering, Lenexa; Bryce Craig, senior in applied music, Olathe;Ben Bandel, freshman in pre-psychology, Overland Park; and Jacob Morgan, freshman in chemistry, Shawnee.

Elliot Arpin, senior in music education, Hutchinson; Adam Watson, senior in humanities, Junction City;Tim O'Connor, freshman in music education, Louisburg; Craig Archer, senior in music education, and Ethan Wagoner, sophomore in music education, both from McPherson;Nick Anderson, sophomore in music education, Parker; Johannah Good, junior in music education, and Alex Hughes, sophomore in music education, both from Topeka; and Andrew Abdayem, freshman in music, and Kaylie Wilson, freshman in music education, both from Wichita.

From out of state: Garrett Lloyd, sophomore in music education, Longmont, Colo.; and Joe Kulick, freshman in music education, Oswego, Ill.