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Kids get jazzed up at camp
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Middle and high school musicians in Martinsville High School’s jazz camp show off what they learned in a concert for parents at the end of the camp. (Contributed photo)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Middle and high school musicians had a chance to hone their skills and even take up a new instrument during two week-long jazz camps at Martinsville High School.

Campers showed off what they had learned with a concert for their families at the end of the week.

“It gives them a chance to play in a low-pressure situation,” said band director Kevin Lewis. “They all had a chance to do some things that we don’t normally have a chance to do in a class of 60 or 70 students. That one-on-one instruction is so important.”

Not only did students get some extra attention to help improve their playing, some students who wanted to switch instruments got to try them out during camp. Also, all students tried percussion, using unconventional objects such as chairs, trash cans and PVC piping to make beats.

“We have all ages, so to be able to put together a week that’s fun for both high-schoolers and middle-schoolers takes some creativity,” Lewis said.

The week allowed students to work on musical concepts more deeply and learn some new skills, said fifth- and sixth-grade band teacher Michelle Meyer.

“They can get help on concepts they learned the previous year in band, or we can use this time to take them to the next level,” she said.

One of the new skills students learned was how to improvise for jazz.

“Everybody learned how to improvise on some level, even the ones who have only been playing for a year,” Meyer said. “Everyone was given three notes and learned how to make up their own jazz solo.”

Seventh- and eighth-grade band teacher Brian Joyce also taught in the Jazz Camp.

Contributed by Kim Buck, community outreach and grants coordinator for Martinsville City Public Schools.


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