Band Camp gives musicians an opportunity to groove together

Above: Music teacher Christan Maslyk works with some of the band camp participants. – Stephen Dafoe Photo

by Stephen Dafoe

Local music students got a little different experience last week than they get from their weekly one-on-one music lessons, an opportunity to learn new songs alongside new musicians. The first of three Summer Band Camps at Smith Music put students together to learn a dozen songs from Monday to Thursday and to put those tunes in front of two audiences Friday afternoon and Friday evening.

“This is not a traditional camp,” said Smith Music owner Paul Smith. “This is a go, work hard, and really learn about music from a musician’s perspective. This is about learning a dozen or more songs and performing them in a concert at the end of the week. This is musical boot camp and the kids really seem to enjoy knuckling down and working hard.”

Music teacher David LeBel, who is working with younger students in the half-day camp also sees the value in what the school is offering through the camp. “This gives kids the opportunity to learn songs in a band experience as opposed to solo and independently by themselves,” he said. “They actually get to work on that part of learning, so when they go out and make a band or join a band, they have that under their belt.”

LeBel said the objective of the camp is to get participants to feed off one another while learning. “At first, they are all just listening to themselves, and not really to the group,” LeBel said, adding as the week goes on, students begin to work more and more as a band.

One participant who enjoyed the experience is Jacob Lienau. “It’s awesome,” he said. “It’s like we’re preparing for a show. We’ve got a set list ready, and we’re just practicing it, putting our own spin on it, adding more instruments on to it, and getting everyone involved.”

Lienau said one of the aspects that makes it interesting is playing different instruments. A vocalist and guitar player in his regular music, Lienau said he was challenged to go beyond his normal skills and take on the drums a little more than he has in the past.

The musician said he enjoyed the experience of working with the other musicians and working together as a group. “All the people here are awesome,” he said. “It’s a good time.”

The first week’s band camp had three students in the half-day camp for children 10 and under, and 11 in the full-day camp for older participants between the ages of 12 and 18.

Friday’s concert offered Farmers’ Market patrons nearly two hours of free entertainment and the bands their first opportunity to play a live gig.

Although many of the band camp members have played live at the school’s year-end concert, Smith says the experience is different. “When we do the Smith Music year-end concerts, it’s hosted by teachers and the teachers are playing along,” he said. “With this [band camp], they are hosting it and I run sound. They are the band. They choose a band leader to host and emcee, so it is really them being in charge.”

A second round of the Smith Music Band Camp started Monday morning. The final session will be held in August.

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