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.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Phyllis Garris: Founder of the Lamar Stringfield String Camp

As I promised in my previous post, I want to give a bit more information about the wonderful string camp where I am working this summer. The Lamar Stringfield String Camp is celebrating it's 30th anniversary this year and is in full swing this week. The camp was founded by Meredith College Music Faculty member, Phyllis Garriss. Her vision for the camp was and continues to be to provide a meaningful string music experience for children of a variety of ages and playing levels in the context of a nurturing environment. Additionally, it is important that the camp supports the local public school string programs and teachers. Campers receive instruction on technique and music theory, a daily orchestra rehearsal and sectional rehearsal, and a daily concert by local professionals or advanced students. Students may also remain at the camp for a popular daily "extended day" experience that includes swimming and recreational fun with the camp counselor staff. All of these wonderful experiences would have never been possible without the vision of Phyllis Garriss. It is her love for teaching, children, and string music that paved the way for this wonderful legacy.

Phyllis Garriss is associate professor emeritus of string instruction at Meredith and is founding director of the Lamar Stringfield String Music Camp. She holds undergraduate degrees from Hastings College and an M.M. from Eastman School of Music. She has held teaching positions at DePauw University and Ball State University, in addition to Meredith. A former National Secretary of the American String Teachers Association, Professor Garriss is a member of the Music Educators National Conference, the Music Teachers National Association, the American String Teachers Association, Local 500 of the Musicians Association, and past-president of the Raleigh Music Club. She performs with the Raleigh Symphony Orchestra and the Capital String Ensemble.

It is my pleasure to let you know a bit more about Phyllis Garriss and the Lamar Stringfield String Camp. I know that there are many wonderful camps around the country that occupy similar places in their individual communities. I am so pleased to be art of this camp that serves the Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Chapel Hill communities.


Lamar Stringfield String Camp 2009

This week (and last) I am teaching at the Lamar Stringfield String Camp at Meredith College in Raleigh, NC. This little string camp is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and is truly a gem in our world of string education.

The camp is 2 weeks long and students have the option of attending for 1 or both of the weeks of camp. It serves students from ages 6 through high school and all levels of playing. The camp features 3 orchestras, music theory lessons, sectional rehearsals, technique lessons, a daily concert, opportunities for swimming and other activities, and lots of fun and love. In addition to a staff of wonderful professionals from the world of string education, there is a team of "counselors" that are advanced string players from local high schools and colleges that serve an invaluable role for the camp as the liaison between the instructors and the students.

In the coming days I will post some various thoughts and remarks about the camp. There are so many positive things going on here and I really want to share them with you all.

For now, let me just say that I am having a great time and am so pleased to be part of this wonderful camp for the 2nd year. The camp was founded by Phyllis Garris, a long time string faculty member at Meredith College. The is wonderful loving woman who is truly interested in getting kids excited about string music. The camp directors are Margaret Garris, Phyllis' daughter and string educator, who is carrying on the tradition started by her Mom, and Virginia Hudson, cello instructor at Meredith. They are magnificent folks that truly keep the overall vision of the camp in focus as they prepare for each and every day of the experience.

Two of my sons are attending the camp this week (more about this later) and I couldn't feel more fortunate for them to have this opportunity.

If you are in the Raleigh area and teaching strings, check out the camp and send your students. They will have an experience of a lifetime.

More to come on this great camp.

For now, I have to head to Raleigh!


Friday, June 5, 2009

Let's be a Light

Hi all -
Commencement at NCSSM is tomorrow and I have been thinking a great deal about the seniors that will be leaving NCSSM and going on to college next year. We have had a wonderful 2 years of music-making and fun and I hope you all know that I will miss each and every one of you. I look forward to hearing about all of your future successes in your various fields and , of course, your musical endeavors. I hope that you will all stay in touch with me and visit from time to time.

I was considering writing a "Commencement Address" today, but, you will hear enough of those in the coming days. So, I will keep my thoughts brief today. I will simply provide one thought to leave with you.

Be a light. That is it. It is such a simple metaphor. Light and dark. But, you know, we can all get it. And, we can all do it. It really isn't that hard. Each day, when you get out of bed, think to yourself, "Today, I am going to be a light in this world." With that framework for your life, you can't really go wrong. For really, it is the one thing that we all have control of: our attitude and our approach. Other stuff might hit us hard. Circumstances are sometimes out of our control. Sometimes bad things happen. Sometimes we fail. Sometimes we don't feel good. Sometimes people let us down. The one thing we can do, is endeavor to be a light in the world.

Where can you be a light? With your interactions with others? With your scholarly contributions? With your art? With your caring for others? With your service? Or maybe some or all of these. We all have our gifts. We all have our strengths. Use yours to be a light in the world. I'll try to do the same with mine.

Thanks for a great couple of years. Thanks for sharing so much of yourselves with me. Thanks for opening your hearts to the things that I have tried to contribute. I will miss you all.

Let your light shine!!


Monday, June 1, 2009

NCSSM Symphony Orchestra, Elgar Cello Concerto, Mvt 1, Adam Collins, cello

I am pleased to post the first video from the 2009 NCSSM Concerto Concert.
The concert was huge success. Congratulations to the soloists and orchestra. Keep watching this site for more video from the concert.