Convocation for the College of Fine Arts and Communications will take place at 11 a.m. on August 17
Spencer Danielson, a School of Music graduating senior, initially learned clarinet as a way to pass time until he could learn how to play the saxophone. However once he started, he loved it so much that he could not stop. He will perform “Première Rhapsodie” by Claude Debussy at the August convocation.
Danielson describes his music style as classical meets jazz. He has spent three years as a member of the BYU Jazz Legacy Dixieland Band. “I have really loved playing in the Dixieland Band,” said Danielson. “As a clarinet major, most of my time is spent training on the classical style of clarinet, but playing in the band gave me the opportunity to showcase my skills with improvisation and jazz.”
Last February, the band played three concerts with New Orleanian musicians Lucien Barbarin and Gregg Stafford. Danielson said playing with the musicians, who he described as energetic and lively, taught him the importance of putting his emotions and energy into the music he plays.
This past spring, Danielson traveled with the Dixieland Band to New Orleans for four days, shortly after he returned from performing in Australia with the BYU Wind Symphony for three weeks. Danielson names these two experiences as his most memorable during his time at BYU.
As he reflects back, Danielson said it was not hard to chose clarinet performance as his major. By high school he had decided he wanted to pursue a future in clarinet. “I love performing and showcasing my talent and the preparation time I’ve put into working on specific pieces for a recital or band concert,” said Danielson.
His advice to current music majors is to prioritize their time in efforts to be efficient with practicing. In his experience, he found he needed to push himself in order to give more time to practice so he would not settle for mediocracy. Danielson said he also feels some students need the opposite advice because they may push themselves over the limit and over-practice.
“It’s all about finding a happy medium and using your time the right way,” said Danielson. “Don’t get frustrated or discouraged if it takes a while for you to figure out how to find the balance in your schedule. Strive to do better with your time and the energy you have in efforts to get everything done.”
Danielson said his most influential opportunities have been masterclasses with his fellow clarinet students. During these classes, clarinet professor Jaren Hinckley has specific students perform and then receive feedback from the group during a critiquing session. A lot of the masterclass is spent teaching and detailing how a fellow classmate could play better.
“During my freshman year, I was terrified of doing something like that,” said Danielson. “I was comfortable with performing in front of others, but teaching someone in front of other people was scary. But as the years went on, I became more experienced and I am grateful for that. I am confident in my teaching abilities now and feel that I am at a higher caliber to teach private lessons than I was six years ago.”
As he looks to his future, Danielson said he wants to get involved in soundtrack music. In addition to playing clarinet, he also plays the saxophone. “Part of me wants to try to pick up more instruments,” said Danielson. “This will give me a better shot at getting into soundtrack music so I can be more involved in the studio.
“I’d also love to look into the field of composition. It’s not something I’ve done. I just recently started working on an arrangement of a hymn. I’ve been writing and figuring it out but it’s developing slowly. I’m not as experienced with practicing as I am with performing.”
What did you want to be when you grew up?
“I wanted to be a cake maker. Not because I had any inclination towards baking or cooking, I just loved cake. I thought because I could make it whenever, then I could eat it whenever. As I got older I realized I would have to actually sell the cakes and changed my mind.”
Where do you find inspiration?
“I think of the people who are confident in me, those who believe in me. My grandpa is my greatest support. He thinks I’m the best clarinet player on the face of the earth. He always loves to hear me play.”
What was the hardest challenge you had to overcome at BYU?
“Learning to manage my time. My quick breaks often turned into long breaks. I’m getting better at it in efforts to have consistency in practicing and attentiveness to my sound.”
What is your favorite snack to eat?
“Chex Mix and Flaming Hot Cheetos. Oreos are amazing too. I love my snacks.”