by Stan Kenton

Next to his Orchestra, Stan Kenton's great passion was the series of professional stage band clinics he formed in 1959 to help train young musicians. 

Few are aware he donated his time and the talents of his entire orchestra for days at a time to various schools   throughout the country.

Thanks to his efforts and a small, dedicated group of musical educators under the leadership of Dr. Gene Hall and Leon Breeden from North Texas State University the Stan Kenton Clinics successfully laid the groundwork for literally hundreds of stage band programs at the college and high school level. 

What follows is excerpted from a feature article Stan wrote for International Musician in 1961

"If we are to rely on teenage musicians evolving into artists of the future, they must be properly trained by top-flight professional musicians.

"Consequently, it is essential that some type of academic program be created to allow them to receive the professional instruction they deserve. 

"Or put it this way: due to the fact contemporary music has become so complex and involves a myriad of complex harmonic constructions and odd meters it is imperative that young musicians understand 'why we do what we do;' what composition techniques we employ; how we shade and dramatize sound; why we often change instrumentation from one tour to the next; and experiment with different instruments [in our case, the mellophonium] in order to capture a kaleidoscope of color patterns few knew existed.

"The Stan Kenton Band Camp [Note: In later years 'camp' was changed to 'clinic,' which Stan felt  sounded more academic; more professional] is fulfilling my desire to seek out and develop young, natural talent. However, these clinics are by no means the final answer. We need hundreds like them, sponsored by high schools, colleges and local community musical associations. Three or four Stan Kenton Clinics, held intermittently throughout the country during the summer, cannot possibly handle the estimated nine million teenagers who are destined to become musicians over the next decade.

"I wish you could have observed the manner in which the youngsters attending the Indiana University clinic worked long and difficult hours – without any prompting on the part of the faculty – eagerly assimilating instruction as fast as we could present it to them. Multiply these youngsters by millions more and you have some idea of the need confronting professional musicians to give of their time and talent to train and encourage them.

"Interestingly enough, many young musicians are starved for music. But only for a music which offers them some emotional stimulation! In my two-year association with these youngsters during the 1959 and 1960 clinics, I discovered they adamantly refused to accept the meaningless pap that is currently being programmed by many of today's radio stations.

"I believe we owe it to these eager young musicians to make available to them professional   instruction, along with exposing them to a variety of original scores [Note: In 1960 Kenton sent a    trunk load of original material which had been culled from his library to North Texas State University to be used as teaching aids] written by a host of great composers.  We definitely have a serious responsibility that must be dealt with. 

"We also must do something now about attracting and stimulating America’s young people to carry  on the never ending search to compose and play as much new music as possible. Otherwise the     future of contemporary music will indeed be bleak.

"I want these young people to be exposed, not only to the band's music, but to the music of my contemporaries. I think it important, too, to provide them with as many opportunities as possible     to perform the music that is being written for the bands of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Woody Herman, Don Ellis and a wealth of other important musical groups.

"I want them to be able to use this new found knowledge so they can expand and improve upon the strong legacy of experimentation and innovation we have begun for them.

"Helping these youngsters achieve the things they are looking for in music was not as difficult as  we anticipated. What these kids lacked in proficiency they quickly made up in an enormous amount enthusiasm and appreciation.

"I feel privileged to have been provided with the opportunity to help these young musicians. I am also extremely proud be part of such a worthwhile endeavor that  in only two short years has achieved a level of success beyond our expectations."



    The Stan Kenton Band Clinic, which for the past two summers has presented a two-week course at the University of Indiana, Bloomington, Indiana, will this coming summer have camps not only there but also at Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, and at Southern Methodist University, at Dallas, Texas. Here students will be given individual and group instruction by professional musicians who have had wide experience in both classical and modern music.