Thursday, June 25, 2009

Community Building at Summer String Camp

Today, I want to say a few words about community building. Anybody that knows me, knows that I love to use the words orchestra and community interchangeably. An orchestra is a community. The string world IS a community. And, the strength of the community around an orchestra, string faculty, or music department can be a direct predictor of its overall success. Community matters.

Over the past several years, I have been proud to be associated with two wonderful summer string camps. For the past two years, I have been on faculty of the Lamar String Camp in Raleigh, NC and on several occasions over the past several years have been the Musical Director of the Alaska String Camp. There are many fantastic aspects to both of these camps, like many summer string experiences around the country, but the sense of community building at both of these camps is simply extraordinary.

For the past two weeks, I have really enjoyed witnessing the work of the late high school and college aged "counselors" at the Lamar Stringfield Camp. This group of young adults are really instrumental to the success of the camp and work tirelessly as the real liaison between the instructors and the students. This group includes several students that are music majors in universities including East Carolina, Michigan, UNC, UNC Charlotte, and others. There are other students that are rising high school juniors and seniors. Most of the counselors have attended the camp as students and are now taking on leadership roles at this event that helped shape them as musicians and people.

They are on hand to set up rehearsal rooms, stuff folders, tutor students, sit in on rehearsals to "beef up" a section, play with the kids, monitor the cafeteria, and a variety of other jobs. They are there to help the kids out if they need a little extra love and support. They are there for the kids if the don't feel well or scrape their knee. They also get to make music together and participate in the leadership of the camp. Yesterday, I heard 8 of them play the Mendelssohn Octet. It was a wonderful performance and expression of love for music and strings that I won't soon forget.

But, there is so much more going on here for these young adults. They are learning. They are learning about leadership. About teaching. About giving. They are learning new ways to love children, their community, their art, themselves. Some of them are clearly picking up techniques for teaching that they never dreamed would part of their counselor experience. May are discussing pedagogical concepts. Others are discussing child development. Others are seeing new ways of appreciating their own experience as a kid at the camp several years ago.

It is absolutely wonderful to watch. I love watching kids turn into adults. It is magical. This all happens at the Alaska String Camp each summer as well. I think this is one of the reasons that I love both of these camps so much. They are not just developing the kids that attend the camp. These camps serve as community development. And, after all, the orchestra is a community.

Community matters. Lamar Stringfield String Camp is building communities. The counselors at Lamar are fantastic and I am honored to be working with them. Thanks for all of your efforts.

2 days to go. It has been great.


No comments:

Post a Comment