Sound off


Steve Gibson is the owner and general manager of Absolute Music. He’s also a facilitator for the Envision Yamaha Sounds of Summer Percussion Camp for students in grades 7-12. The camp will be held at Reed High School July 12-14. To learn more or register, contact Gibson at (775) 852-2637 or

What types of percussion will students learn about in the camp?

Emphasis is on marching percussion. Marching percussion is usually broken into two pieces. You have the “battery,” … those are drums that have a head on them. … And the other half is what is typically called “the pit.” … That’s all the other percussion instruments—xylophones, marimbas, vibraphones, timpani, things that are too big to march with.

What’s a day at the camp like?

The percussion is actually only one of three parts of the camp. There’s also, completely unrelated to percussion, the drum major portion—the person that directs the band, in the front. They have a section of camp for drum majors to learn directing skills and stuff, and then there’s a leadership portion of the camp. And that is for drum majors, and it’s also for section leaders throughout the band. They could be a trumpet section leader or a clarinet section leader, and they can go and learn different leadership skills as the camp progresses.

What makes this a good program?

The Yamaha Sounds of Summer camps happen all over the country, and they are always led by the best artists and musicians that are available. Aaron Hines [under whom percussionists will study this summer] is the executive director of Envision Performing Arts. … Their level of activity has varied over the last few years, but their ensembles have competed on the national level, or, technically, the world level. And it’s that kind of quality in educator that Sounds of Summer brings in. And the other side of things is just the behemoth that Yamaha is. In our industry, Yamaha is by far the biggest name in the entire music products world. No. 2 is a tenth the size of No. 1, so there’s no comparison.

For more advanced students, what is likely their next step?

This camp really makes these kids extra-prepared to compete at a peak level in high school competition. The very best kids at the high school level usually participate in these other ensembles—most closely, around here, is usually over in Northern California, where we have the Blue Devils drum and bugle corps out of Concord, and the Santa Clara Vanguard, and the Mandarins that are in Sacramento. We have, I would guess, 30 or 40 kids in Reno that are participating in those three groups. That’s a really significant number when you understand that these groups are only 150-160 people strong.

For families weighing their summer music camp options, what should they know to help them decide whether this is the right camp for them?

This is fairly short but intensive. It’s a three-day camp. It doesn’t take too much time away from the fact that here in Washoe County we have a really short summer, which is really sad. As far as percussion portions of the camp are concerned, there’s really nothing at this level without traveling great distance to participate in. … We have the Lake Tahoe music camp that happens the week of the Fourth of July, which this does not conflict with. I’m sure we’ll have kids that do both. That’s a resident camp, that you stay at all week long. This one is not. It is going to be a lot more affordable.