Students take center stage at FHSU music camp

High Plains Music Camp 2017

By Randy Gonzales
University Relations and Marketing
HAYS, Kan. -- The students for the High Plains Music Camp checked in Sunday morning and were rehearsing by Sunday evening. It's a busy schedule at the camp, in its 70th year on the campus of Fort Hays State University.

FHSU provides the only camp in the state for vocal, strings and band, said Dr. Ivalah Allen, associate professor of music at FHSU who is in her sixth year as camp director.

There are about 230 students at this summer's camp, ranging in age from those entering sixth grade in the fall to others who have just graduated from high school. They will be instructed by faculty from Fort Hays State as well as instructors from other points on the compass, everywhere from Lakin, Pratt and Kansas City to as far away as Tennessee, Ohio and California.

"We've got a great group," Allen said of the faculty. "Our primary goal is musical training and experiences. But there's so much more that goes beyond that."

Campers form lasting friendships, Allen said. There are teary goodbyes at the end of the week and happy reunions the next summer. Students can request roommates and they will often contact friends made at previous camps so they can be roomies.

Allen enjoys watching the students improve in their craft from the beginning of the week to the end.

"For me, it really is the students," Allen said. "It is 100 percent the students, and watching them grow. It's just great to see them blooming in front of your eyes."

Many of those students, after a positive experience at the camp, end up enrolling at FHSU. They are not just music majors coming to enjoy all Fort Hays State has to offer.

"We have a large number of our campers who do come to Fort Hays State," Allen said. "Some major in music, but many will not. It's because they become acquainted with the campus and they like the campus. They will major in nursing, in agriculture, leadership studies -- any number of majors."

Just because a Fort Hays State student is not a music major does not mean he or she can't still be involved.

"They might still be performing in the band and the choir and the orchestra," Allen said. "You don't have to be a music major to perform in these ensembles on campus."

There are free concerts on campus each night of the camp. Faculty and staff recitals are scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center. A student honor recital is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at Beach/Schmidt, which will also host a 7:30 p.m. faculty/band concert on Thursday.

Concerts are scheduled for both Beach/Schmidt and Felten-Start Theatre in Malloy Hall on Friday, starting at 6 p.m. At Felten-Start it starts with scenes from the musical "South Pacific" followed by a faculty chamber strings concert at 7 p.m. and a student celtic strings concert at 8 p.m.

At Beach/Schmidt, it starts with a middle school jazz band concert at 6 p.m. A high school jazz band will perform at 6:20 p.m., followed by the high school honor jazz band at 6:50 p.m. The faculty jazz band will perform at 7:30 p.m. Guest clinician Wycliffe Gordon will solo with the faculty concert. Gordon, an internationally renowned musician, has received many awards for playing the trombone.

On Saturday, campers will perform in concert at both Felten-Start and Beach/Schmidt starting at 9 a.m., with the last performance at 3 p.m.

The concert schedule and biographies on Gordon and other guest faculty can be found online at

"We really encourage the public to come to these concerts," Allen said.

Back to top