Musical Institute at RIC Gives High School Musicians a College Experience 

French horn player Dylan Marshall, who majors in music performance at Indiana State University, attended MIRIC three times during his high school years.

French horn player Dylan Marshall, who majors in music performance at Indiana State University, attended MIRIC three times during his high school years.


Amelia Hinsley knows she wants to study music when she goes to college. She’s undecided, however, whether she’ll focus on music education or choral performance and hopes her second year at the Musical Institute at Rhode Island College will help her to make that decision.

“All the counselors at the institute are in the music education program at RIC, and I think they can tell me a lot about it,” Hinsley, who will enter her senior year of high school this fall, said. “I attended the program at first because I wanted to grow and be a better singer and music student, which is why I think most of us attend the institute.”

The institute, established in 2004 by Robert Franzblau, associate professor of music and director of bands at RIC, takes place this year July 7-13. It is a weeklong, intensive program of practice, performance and study for wind, percussion and choral students entering ninth grade through graduating seniors.

The institute is meant to prepare high school students for collegiate expectations, beginning with auditions and culminating in a public performance on campus.

Franzblau said the program’s challenging structure exposes high school musical students to the work ethic needed to succeed scholastically at a college or university.

The institute also gives ambitious and talented students the opportunity to work and perform with like-minded peers from other high schools. “The expectations on these students are very high,” said Franzblau. “You get students who are highly motivated out of their usual high school and put them alongside students from other high schools who are also highly motivated. They feed off each other and it becomes this kind of magical week.”

Approximately 100 students are expected at this year’s institute. They will be taught by RIC faculty and counseled by former students, many of whom now attend RIC.

“The students have a great time being challenged, and in rising to the challenge they get a sense of possibility in themselves that they didn’t have before,” Franzblau said. “They didn’t know they could things like what they do here.”

Dylan Marshall, a Seekonk native who is entering his senior year at Indiana State University as a music performance and business double major, credits the institute, which he attended three times during his high school career, with preparing him for college. He said the program’s master’s classes with professional musicians and the program’s immersion style were especially helpful.

“I think attending a program like this is of the utmost importance for a high school student,” Marshall said. “High school music programs don’t do that much for you. In playing with college kids, you’re experiencing a different level of playing. It gives you inspiration to work harder. The institute has so many great sources. It is a really great experience musically and personally.”