Final exams are stressful enough without 500 people watching you take them.
At the College of Southern Nevada, the winter and spring concerts double as semester-ending final projects for the concert dance, jazz ensemble, orchestra, concert band, big band and choral classes.
The spring series runs at the Horn and Backstage theaters at the Cheyenne campus, 3200 E. Cheyenne Ave., North Las Vegas, through May 23.
"If the band falls apart on the concert, it's not like I'm gonna flunk everybody," says Richard McGee, director of the concert band and chair of the fine arts department. "And it's not like an exam to the extent that I am critically listening to the way each person is playing in the concert."
However, McGee explains that students will be graded on their effort, and improvement, through the semester.
"The teacher's job is to help each person try to maximize whatever they've got," McGee says. "And that's a challenge for a community college, because we're trying to sort of be all things to all people, and there's almost no way to do that."
While all current concert performers began classes at the college on Jan. 19, some are 16-year-olds receiving high-school credit, others are 75-year-old retired pros seeking one final audience.
"There are always a lot of really talented players in there, but they're in various stages of being in shape," says McGee, who began the student concert series during his first year at the school 21 years ago.
While the classes are technically open enrollment, most require auditions because players usually outnumber available spots. And these auditions tend to ensure at least a high school level of musical proficiency to start.
"I think our performing groups are really good this year," McGee says.
The spring concert series culminates in the CSN Piano Festival Finale on May 23. In this concert, winners of an annual piano competition -- culled from the community at large -- perform with the Las Vegas Youth Camerata Orchestra.
And without any academic pressure.
Contact reporter Corey Levitan at clevitan@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0456.