Mrs. Thompson’s son, Jack, was a camper at last summer’s Middle School Concert Band Camp at the Music for All Summer Symposium, presented by Yamaha. Jack was one of 115 middle school students – part of the total camp community of more than 1,700 students, band directors, faculty members, staff and volunteers. We talked with Mrs. Thompson about Jack’s Summer Symposium experience – and hers.
How did you hear about the MFA Summer Symposium?
We live in a music-friendly city with passionate and talented music teachers. Our schools provide our children with exposure to professional educators who demonstrate what it takes to make music: hard work, grit, courage and even a sense of humor. My son, Jack, was reluctant to go to band camp in 7th grade, even after his director suggested it. Luckily, Jack attended the following year as an 8th grade student. We had heard of many music camps, but his director shared how much he thought Music for All would be a good fit for Jack.
What did your son like most about camp?
As parents, we were very encouraged not to hear from Jack too often – a good sign that all is well. All parents should be told that when they drop their child off at camp. When we did hear from him, we received brief messages like, “I loved hearing Black Violin!”, “Best food ever!”, and “I’m learning so much from the oboe teacher! This is amazing!”. If you asked Jack what he liked most about his experience, he would share: that is was the music he played, working with the oboe clinician, the people that were present, and the evening concerts he attended.
What were your initial expectations of camp?
Of course we expected Jack to grow as a musician and learn new music skills by going to camp. We also hoped that he would learn or solidify social and emotional skills like setting an alarm to get up on time, meeting new friends, and speaking up if he needed help during a lesson or rehearsal. And he did! Such great development to have happen before starting high school.
What parts of camp were you most impressed with?
The most impactful was summed up in the presentation to the parents on the last day of camp. The Music for All staff discussed, what I like to call, the cycle of work ethic. We learned about three points that motivate musicians, or anyone working towards something they enjoy. Practice…success…fun. That “camp circle” is discussed often in our home.
The idea of deliberate practice taught by Jack’s oboe clinician can be applied with any skill or goal any of us are trying to reach. Jack also learned about flow or being in the zone as he played.
Can you imagine your child being conducted by one of the best band instructors in the country? Or having a composer come and speak to the ensemble so that they understand why the music was written the emotion behind the piece? How about the opportunity to play with master musicians? Music for All offers these opportunities at the right time for young musicians when their brains and abilities are soaring.
What would you tell another parent who is thinking about sending their child to camp?
It can be so challenging to send your child away to camp. For many it is also costly. But for our family, it was one of the best things we’ve had the opportunity to provide for our child. Jack’s future with the oboe looks bright, and the Music for All Summer Symposium has inspired skills that translate to all aspects of his life. Seeing our child grow as a result of his experiences at camp reminds us that band camp holds many more gifts and experiences than music. Is the musical training extraordinary? Yes! Is camp fun? Yes! Was it hard to send him? Yes! But the experience was positively life-changing, and one we are so glad our child had.
For more information about the Middle School division vist http://camp.musicforall.org/middleschool/