Music making in the next few months

Hi blog readers. I’ve almost let April slip through my typing fingers when it comes to the blog. It’s been a busy month for us at A Street. We’re gearing up for our A Street Concert (click the link for information), Nick Dinnerstein played cello on our behalf at the YMCA on April 22nd, we’re signing up new students for the summer, AND getting ready for our summer music camp for children entering grades 1-3 at the Quincy YMCA, August 1-5 (call 617-479-8500 to sign up).

Nick very beautifully played music by JS Bach, Mark O'Connor, and others while children and adults listened

During the summer camp at the YMCA, campers will build basic instruments, learn to investigate different kinds of sounds, rhythms, and melodies, and learn the basics of making music with each other. We will also feature performances from A Street faculty members working at the camp on their own more advanced instruments (like guitar, brass, strings, and others) during the week. The foundation for the camp’s structure comes from “Ways of Listening: A curriculum for music and music making,” a thorough 30 lesson curriculum created 15 years ago by one of my professors at New England Conservatory and current mentor Warren Senders. Obviously I can’t do 30 lessons in a 1 week camp, but the curriculum is filled to the brim with great ideas for music making activities, ways to make instruments, and reflective activities that will lead campers to explore music making in an exciting way!

I met Warren in his class at NEC called Improvisation in General Music. I’m tempted to go off topic at this point and write an entire post based on the class and ways I’ve applied what I learned there, but I’ll just say that it was a great experience and leave it at that. He also teachers a class on instrument building in schools – focusing on types of instruments from around the world – and I asked him if he had any ideas for building instruments at camp. He responded by giving me this curriculum, the only payment being that I digitize it for him. I’ve very thankful for his help in building a great music camp.

The other aspect we’ll focus on at camp – beyond acquiring skills in teamwork, in visual art (instrument building), and in basic musicianship – are values inherent in musical traditions around the world. From the call-and-response patterns of African-American’s in America’s history, to the music and dances of native Hawaiians, to music that originally accompanied literature from the Greeks, the book of Psalms, and Beowulf, to modern protest songs, music has a strong connection to any society’s values. Due to the shortness of the camp, we wont focus intensely on any one society, but the music making we do with camp-made instruments will relate to common elements inherent in music from around the globe.

There are multiple reasons I can think of to organize the camp activities as I’ve mentioned above, and I’ll run through a few of them now:
1. Most campers will probably not have played an instrument before, and few or none will be proficient in any one instrument. Building and playing with simple instruments like rhythm sticks and three string harps (to name a couple) will encourage campers to explore what instruments are fundamentally (tools to make sound and music), and the most basic ways to start making music.
2. Using more complex instruments could result in some campers being left behind with regard to how quickly or slowly they take to the instruments.
3. Focusing on world music traditions will give campers an opportunity explore why we play music at all. Why play music? Why does some music sound the way it does?

If you have any questions about the camp, feel free to call me at 617-328-3600. If you have comments or suggestions please comment on the blog! Luckily it wont be so long until three more posts are up, one about May News and Events, one to review the upcoming concert, and one about two particular things I learned in Warren Senders’ class (I was inspired by what I wrote above). So please keep updated, and I’ll try not to let a month go by again before a post!


About Justin Stanley, Teaching-Artist
I'm a musician and educator based in Boston, MA.

4 Responses to Music making in the next few months

  1. Wish we could be there!, Best wishes for successful Summer 2011!
    ~~Friends at Allegro

  2. Pingback: Interlude – July News and Events « Astreetmusic's Blog

  3. Hephaestus says:

    I know Warren Senders!

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