JMU School of Music May 2018 alumni newsletter



Hello, and Welcome to the third installment of the School of Music Alumni Newsletter! Now that spring has finally arrived (for most of us) we trust that you are looking forward to graduations, vacations and a little relaxation and recharging of your batteries!

The Class of 2018 has just graduated and we have been honored to share in their musical triumphs and achievements. We hope that you have enjoyed watching some of their steamed concerts and will be looking forward to a new season in the fall.

In this issue, we will update you on our Summer Camps and Festivals, including the brand new JMU Piano Day! In addition, the schedule for our Concerts on the Lawn series is posted (if you’re in town, maybe staying at the just opened Hotel Madison) please stop by on a Sunday night and enjoy some of the fine local talent.

We pose our five questions to emeriti faculty member Dr. In Dal Choi. Many of you remember him fondly, and you will want to check on what he has been up to since leaving JMU. We also highlight one of our newest faculty members (who happens to be an Alumna), Amy Birdsong. Check out her reactions to “coming home” to JMU!

And finally, we ask that you continue to spread the word and get more of our graduates to sign up at musicalum@jmu.edu, We would also like to encourage you to take a moment and “Send Us Your Story”! We’d love to hear what you have been up to since you left JMU, some fond memories, some funny memories or even how the School of Music has impacted your life.

Happy Summer!


Concerts on the Lawn

The School of Music continues the tradition of offering summer concerts on the lawn just outside of the music building (between Music and Duke Hall). This summer’s events include:

  • Sunday, 20 May: Massanutten Brass Band and Youth brass Band, 600pm @ Memorial Hall, free
  • Sunday, 3 June: 29th Infantry Division Band, 600pm, @ Memorial Hall Auditorium, free
  • Sunday, 10 June: Sentimental Journey Big Band, 600pm, @ Memorial Hall Auditorium, free
  • Sunday, 17 June: Harrisonburg-Rockingham Concert Band, 600pm, on the Lawn at the Music Building, 880 S, Main Street, free (Note: there is NO rain site for this event)
  • Sunday, 24 June: Just Jazzin' Big Band, 600pm, on the Lawn at the Music Building, 880 S, Main Street, free (Note: there is NO rain site for this event)

Vocal Arts Camp

Geared for singers ages 8 – 18, the JMU Vocal Arts Camp (VAC) features a dynamic mix of diverse contemporary choral/vocal genres and performance opportunities! Our five-day experience culminates on Saturday with in a Showcase Concert in the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts. Also included under the auspices of Vocal Arts Camp is our “Junior Camp’ which meets from July 23 – Friday July 27, from 9:30 am 12:00 pm, for children aged 5-8.

Spring String Thing

2018 marks the forty-first year for this highly popular program, which was begun by Ben E. Wright in May of 1978 as, in his own words, “an experiment.” His purpose and philosophy for establishing the JMU Spring String Thing was “To offer a wider opportunity to the junior high/middle school and senior high musician to perform in a large orchestral situation and to encourage that student to improve individual and ensemble performance skills.” In 1992, Dr. Robert McCashin became the Director of Orchestras at JMU. Along with his wife, Clarine (“Charlie”) McCashin, they took over Spring String Thing and built the program to what we see today. In 2016, Dr. and Mrs. McCashin retired after 24 years with JMU. The new Director of JMU Orchestras, Professor Foster Beyers, and his wife, Dr. Yi-Ping Chen, now lead the program and enjoy nurturing the next generation of musicians.

Marching Band Camp

Marching Band Camp is designed for aspiring student leaders who wish to gain experience on the marching field. This curriculum is designed to prepare young leaders for teaching music and marching through the process of learning an entire marching show including music, drill, body moves and choreography, marching fundamentals and teaching techniques.

Drum Major Camp

Drum Major Camp is designed for current drum majors or individuals interesting in developing their leadership skills both on and off the podium. This curriculum is designed to develop each student’s abilities in conducting, calling commands, saluting, marching technique, as well as score study and teaching music and marching.

Drumline Camp

Drumline Camp is sponsored by the Yamaha Corporation. The Yamaha Sounds of Summer Camp is designed to provide battery percussionists with expert training from qualified Yamaha clinicians and will expose these musicians to technical exercises, warm up routines and performance charts that will challenge each individual and develop each ensemble during the course of the week.

Varsity Drumline

This line will learn music and drill for a field show to be performed by the marching band at the conclusion of camp.

Concert Band Camp

Concert Band Camp is designed for students who wish to gain experience in the concert ensemble setting. Participants will have an opportunity to work on a variety of wind band literature, from contemporary works to traditional concert band literature, prepare a concert for the conclusion of camp, and work with the JMU School of Music faculty in sectionals and master classes.

Color Guard and Weapon Camp

Color Guard and Weapon Camp is designed for students of all abilities. This camp will be divided into sections according to ability in order to provide the most concise and individualized training possible. Each section will work on basic technique and choreography both with and without equipment, and will produce a routine to be performed at the camp’s final performance. In addition to color guard, there will be a weapon component for individuals who are interested in rifle and/or sabre.

JMU Piano Day – New!

Exciting news - the JMU piano area is hosting their inaugural piano day: "Piano Firsts" on Saturday, May 26th from 2:00 - 4:30pm. All high school pianists (grades 9-12) are invited to this event which will feature a workshop & group sessions around the topic of "firsts" that pianists encounter.

“Mr. JMU to retire”

William (Bill) G. Posey

It’s hard to imagine the JMU School of Music without Bill Posey! But this coming fall, Bill will be leaving us as he heads towards retirement (although you will continue to see him in a variety of musical ensembles in the valley, we are sure).

Bill Posey has been on staff at the James Madison University School of Music since 1981. For 31 years he was the assistant director of the Marching Royal Dukes, and is currently Director of Concert & Support Services for the JMU School of Music. Bill has conducted concert bands, theater orchestras and choral groups. Regular performance ensembles include the Massanutten Brass Quintet, the Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra, the Just Jazzin’ big band, the Massanutten Brass Quintet , the Valley Wind Ensemble, and other chamber groups and solo performances.

In addition to his playing, Bill was the director of the 65-piece Harrisonburg/Rockingham Concert Band from 1988 until 2012. Bill was a clinician for United Music Enterprises and Bands of America, teaching clinics and master classes throughout the United States, Canada and Great Britain. He is active as an adjudicator for both marching and concert band festivals. Bill is a past recipient of Phi Mu Alpha’s Orpheus Award and Kappa Kappa Psi’s A. Frank Martin Award for his contributions to music and music education.

While there are not enough words to thank Bill for all his contributions, we are SO THANKFUL that such a wonderful human being would have devoted so much of his life to working with our JMU students, faculty and staff. Every best wish in retirement to you, Bill – we will all miss you!


In Dal Choi

James Kluesner

In Dal Choi was a voice professor from 1977 to 2009 – a total of 32 years. We interviewed him to get his thoughts on his tenure at JMU:

When did you retire?


Where are you living?

Fredericksburg, VA

What are you doing now?

I am teaching voice at the University of Mary Washington as an adjunct faculty (I have 15 students this semester), and I am the choir director of the United Methodist Church of Koinonia in Washington, DC.

What are your best memories of teaching at JMU?

One of my students, Jamie Standish, was a regional finalist of Metropolitan Opera Audition when she was sophomore, and many of my students were accepted to top schools of music in the United States with scholarships, and many were cast in major roles in operas.

What advice or words of wisdom do you have for alums?

I would encourage them to work hard to develop their ability forever. I am 81 years old now, and I practice every day (morning and afternoon).

If you would like to contact Dr. Choi, you can write him at choibaritone@gmail.com.

New Faculty Member - Professor Amy Birdsong

I’m currently employed in my dream job! I fell in love with James Madison University when I was 13 years old and never looked back. When the time came, I chose to only apply and audition for JMU. Thankfully, the gamble paid off and JMU became my second home.

I have so many wonderful memories encompassed in those 4 incredible undergraduate years. Concerts at Wilson, marching through the tunnel at the old stadium, recitals at Anthony Seeger, throwing metronomes against the wall in practice room in the basement when they wouldn’t keep my tempo, saxophone trips to Bryce Mountain, Sam Cross music history lectures in 142, playing in combos at Calhoun’s (now Cap Ale), running around the ‘burg in the crisp fall weather, Sunday brunch at D-Hall, and many rehearsals and methods classes that set me up for success in room 108.

Because of the time and effort invested in me by the faculty at JMU, I felt ready to conquer the band director world at the age of 22. By conquer, I meant of course, survive. My first year teaching I probably ate more cookie dough from fundraisers than I sold, as my own personal coping device. However it was clear in that first year that I loved teaching and felt that JMU put me in a great starting place.

I taught high school band for 16 years, and so much of me is defined by that role. Who I am as a person is wrapped up in that amazing career, just as are my roles of mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend.

I never pictured myself leaving my position of being high school band director – but the chance to come back “home” to Harrisonburg and be surrounded by the JMU community was too hard to resist. Being here is a dream come true. I’m learning so much every day, and engaging in the JMU School of Music culture that is thankfully still one that balances musical rigor with a people-centered philosophy. I hope that each semester I can, through my own experience, give back to the JMU School of Music through my own time and energy just a small piece of what this school instilled in me.


Kristi Monte – Violin

Major: Music Education

Kristi Monte

Growing up in Brick, New Jersey, Kristi Monte started playing violin at age six after hearing the Dixie Chicks on the radio and wanting to make a similar sound. She has been “playing ever since,” taking private lessons, participating in junior regional orchestras, and playing in the Kean University preparatory string orchestra when she was in high school. At age 12, she began teaching violin and “loved every minute of it.” “I knew then that I wanted to be a teacher when I was older,” recalls Monte, who grew her number of students to 30 before coming to college.

Monte also “just knew” she wanted to attend JMU because of its “breathtaking” campus and reputable music school. Now a senior music education major studying with Wanchi, Monte became good enough on the viola to call it her secondary instrument. “I enjoyed learning new instruments and the individualized attention.” Monte played in the JMU Symphony Orchestra for three-and-a-half years, helped to grow Club Orchestra on campus from five to 45 students, and is the founder of Got Strings (www.gotstrings.net), a company made up of 14 current and former JMU music majors who perform classical music for special events in the Shenandoah Valley. She is also a recipient of the Sam Cross Music Education String Scholarship. “It is an honor to have been considered, let alone elected to receive the scholarship—and it really helps me financially.”

Created By
Eric Guinivan

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