USF to Host Illinois Grade School Music Festival

March 5, 2018 | Joliet, Ill.

The sound of strings will fill the halls at the University of St. Francis (USF) when more than 400 students, parents and teachers come to campus for the Illinois Grade School Music Association (IGSMA) District VI orchestra festival on Saturday, March 10.

Junior high students from Will, and southern Cook counties will come together to perform for a panel of judges. The event is intended to help the groups who participate learn from the experience and enhance their skills by building on the comments they receive from judges. Groups can choose whether they receive only comments or comments and a score on their performance, notes Director of Orchestral Activities and Assistant Professor of Music, Alex Dee. If the score received is high enough the group can move on to a state competition in April.

“The university is always eager to connect with the community,” says Dee. “Hosting the festival is not only a way for us to serve the local public schools, but also brings members of the community onto our campus so that they can learn about all of the great things USF has to offer. In particular, it’s a good opportunity to advertise our music camp for string players.”

The university also offers a Summer String Camp for 8-12th graders, taking place July 9-13 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Students will play in chamber ensembles and an orchestra, hone their musicianship skills in a composition or conducting elective, play in a rhythm ensemble, and study intensively with USF faculty in technique classes and coaching sessions. For an additional fee, students can sign up for a private lesson. The camp culminates in a concert in which all students will perform. Those interested can register at

The festival also combines two of Dee’s passions—music and education.

“Students who participate in music programs develop greater concentration skills and attention to detail, they learn to work in groups toward a common purpose, they learn how to practice and improve at something. They develop self-confidence, critical thinking and imagination. They learn to take constructive criticism, they develop memorization and recall skills, they learn discipline needed to accomplish goals. These are all skills that serve students throughout their lives,” Dee commented.

USF offers a bachelor’s degree in music performance for voice, guitar, and piano as well as a bachelor of arts with a music generalist concentration for all instruments and voice. There is also a digital audio recording arts concentration and a music minor. For a full list of degrees, please visit

Founded in 1920, the University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., is a Catholic, Franciscan university that serves 4,100 students nationwide; offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are more than 48,000 USF alumni across the globe.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.