Local musicians attend fine arts camp
by Denise Blaszynski
President, Kaneland Performing Arts Boosters
When thinking of summer camp, many things comes to mind—making s’mores around the camp fire, canoeing, hiking, mosquito bites, poison ivy, and feeling the warmth of the sun on your face. For the many Kaneland students who have attended a music camp this summer along with hundreds of fellow music students, these couldn’t be further from the truth.
A typical day at a music camp consists of individualized instruction, small and large ensembles, rehearsals and music theory, followed by evening activities and entertainment. At the conclusion of music camp, a concert or performance is often scheduled for the students to show off their new-found talents or skills to family and friends.
Within the Chicagoland metropolitan area and surrounding states of Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa and Michigan, there are dozens of music-related camps on either college campuses or privately-owned arts education institutions. These programs focus on music, art, theatre, dance or creative writing. Some of the camps are for commuters; while others house the students in dorms for anywhere from five to 10 days. Traditionally, music camps are taught by renowned professional and collegiate musicians, as well as award-winning music educators who provide motivational and music training for middle and high school students.
Located on 1,300 acres within the Manistee National Forest is Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, a nonprofit organization that provides a summer fine arts camp and international exchange programs in music, art, dance and drama. Two Kaneland students just returned home after spending 13 days at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. Junior Ryan Koeppen shared that the days were long, starting at 6 a.m., and included five or more hours of rehearsals each day.
“Rehearsals were pretty intensive,” Koeppen said. “We spent three or four days just note crunching.”
Students at Blue Lake study a variety of music styles and practice sight singing, breath management, tone production, stage presence, diction and basic musicianship.
Koeppen learned various vocal techniques in order to be “an actor” while singing, which facilitates telling a story to the audience through music.
“It was such an awesome experience. I met so many new people, worked with experienced and intelligent instructors, and gained so many skills and memories that I will never be able to forget,” Koeppen said.
Several Kaneland students were part of a saxophone quartet, brass quartet or jazz combo camp during June at Imperial School of Music in Geneva. Meeting weekly gave the students the opportunity to play with music students from St. Charles East, Geneva and West Aurora High Schools while performing a variety of music such as classical and jazz. One Kaneland High School student attended NIU’s Jazz Camp while another attended Elmhurst College’s Jazz Combo Camp, which gave them both the opportunity to improve their performance skills and focus on specific techniques for playing jazz, as well as improving their knowledge of music theory.
This year’s two KHS Marching Band drum majors will be attending Smith Walbridge Drum Major Clinic at Eastern Illinois University in mid-July. Founded in 1949, Smith Walbridge was the first camp in the United States to specialize in instruction related to various marching band activities. This six-day program will focus on conducting, showmanship, fundamentals of drill design, leadership and motivational techniques.
Attending a summer music camp is a wonderful opportunity for Kaneland students to improve music skills, continue playing during the summer months, perform with students from other schools and, more importantly, have fun. Many of the students who participated said that the skills they learned at music camp can only benefit Kaneland’s successful music program.
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