Vacation Music School!
“Then, in that hour of deliverance, my heart spoke. Does not such a country, and such defenders of their country, deserve a song?”
-Francis Scott Key
Happy belated 4th of July everyone! Uptown Violins is in full patriotic swing! Due to the holiday weekend last week our blog is coming to you the 2nd Friday this month. Every year we members of Uptown Violins host music camps in our respective cities, with fun innovative themes! Last week Allison and Christy conducted a Wichita, KS Vacation Music School entitled “God Bless America.” Each of the four days had sub-themes relating to America. On the first day, “Old Glory Flag Day,” they focused on songs pertaining to our flag, including “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The second day, “Kansas Day,” students listened to the state’s song “Home on the Range,” and my Grandmother Ruth came to talk about the operetta she wrote for the love of Kansas, featuring the “Merry Meadowlark,” the state bird. For “Military Day,” Allison introduced her studio to many Sousa marches and other famous military songs for each branch of the Armed Forces. On the last day of camp, “Freedom Day,” the campers gave a patriotic concert for family and friends featuring American music, including “American Patrol,” “America the Beautiful,” and “Home on the Range.” I asked Allison what the highlight of camp was for her this year, and she said she enjoyed learning the history behind many of the famous patriotic songs we know and love. On a different note, she said the students’ highlight was probably the musical game of croquet they played outside while being squirted with water to combat the heat!
Next week Brittany and I will be conducting our “Jungle Jams” Vacation Music School in Springfield, IL, followed by a “Team USA” musical Olympics camp in Dallas, TX. Sheree, Brittany, and Allison will conclude our summer season by teaching an “Around the World” music camp in Kampala, Uganda, where they hope to adapt our American music school concepts to the needs of the Ugandan violinists. They are looking forward to teaching the students about music from different continents, while also having the kids teach them about African musical traditions.
When deciding our themes for the year, we look at the age and level of our students as well as popular kid movies at the time, and pick themes that appeal to our particular studios. We usually have a “fun” theme and a “musical” theme, which we correlate whenever possible. For example, in our “Four Seasons” camp we decorate the studio each day with different seasonal décor for fall, winter, spring, and summer, and ask the children to wear clothing appropriate for that time of year. Each day we study Vivaldi’s corresponding work pertaining to that season, as well as make a seasonal craft or play a musical game. Over the years some of our favorite themes have included: “The Sound of Music” which introduces students to a variety musical genres, “Jungle Jams,” with an emphasis on rhythm and Brittany’s fun stomp routine, and “Frozen,” in which students study some of the famous winter-themed classics while dressing up as the popular Disney characters!
We usually hold Vacation Music School four days in a row, for two-and-a-half hours a day. We structure it like mini collegiate music school, including daily music theory, music history, group lessons, crafts/games, and of course the kids’ favorite, snack time! We end the week with a special performance for family and friends. We believe camp is a great way for young violinists to become more familiar with music theory, famous composers, different musical time periods, and a variety of musical genres, in a fun and creative atmosphere. It is especially helpful for children accustomed to private lessons to experience group playing and to build friendships that continue from one year to the next. Our Vacation Music School also prepares young students for more intensive music festivals they may wish to attend in their high school and college years. Many of my students tell me music camp is their favorite musical week of the year, and the kid in me whole-heartily agrees!
P.S. Stay tuned for our new “How to” series for the fall, featuring articles for performers, parents, students, and teachers alike! We will first look at challenges including how to motivate kids to practice!
First Fridays with Uptown Violins is hosted by Ashley Rescot, Director of Public Relations. Ashley received her Bachelor of Music from Baylor University, as well as minors in French and English. She taught English as a Fulbright scholar in France for a year, and then obtained her Master’s Degree in French Literature at the University of Kansas. She has taught French to all ages, including a Maman et Moi baby French class, as well as collegiate French levels I-IV. She teaches her own private violin studio and performs throughout the Midwest. Research interests include the relationship between music education and language acquisition, as well as the connection between music and other forms of artistic expression.