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Music camp caters to kids

KIMBERLY NICOLETTI
summit daily news

This year, local music students Kari and Lea Matson, ages 16 and 15, respectively, had their pick of music camps. After attending three in Colorado last year, they chose Scale the Summit for their camp this August, hands down.

“They absolutely loved it last year,” said their mom, Angela Matson. “The faculty was very involved in each chamber group, so they learned a lot about individual playing and (performing) as a group.”

Scale the Summit began last year when Janet Harriman and Chas Wetherbee decided it was time to focus more on young local musicians.

“Both Chas and I are alumni of the NRO, and we think it’s a shame there aren’t any local kids in the orchestra,” Harriman said. “Through this camp, we are trying to build a strong music program in Summit County, made up of Summit County kids, where they will be at the level to audition for the NRO if they choose.”

Wetherbee has been visiting Summit County from his hometown in Columbus, Ohio, for about 20 years. Most recently, he has been performing with the Carpe Diem String Quartet, an ensemble in residence at Ohio Wesleyan University. The musicians aim to transform the reputation of string quartets and revitalize the chamber music experience.

At Scale the Summit Camp, scheduled for Aug. 2-7, the four members of Carpe Diem, plus a wind teacher (and perhaps a pianist) will teach kids of all abilities. Last year, they drew 16 kids, ranging from a 7-year-old beginner to an 18-year-old advanced musician. This year they expect about 20 students.

“There are so many talented kids in Summit County,” Wetherbee said. “I get to see the way they grow and come alive.”

Last year, he taught kids to improv within a chamber group. At first they were shy about stepping up, but by the end of the week, “virtually all the kids wanted to get in there and do improv,” he said. “It was amazing to see them blossom.”

Angela Matson also witnessed the transformation, especially in her daughters’ ability to play more successfully in a chamber group.

“They were very focused, and their interaction with other players was just more present,” she said, explaining how they learned to communicate with the group by giving cues and how Kari learned to lead as a first-chair violinist.

She especially appreciates the combination of music lessons and playfulness.

Wetherbee ensures that the camp is fun by encouraging both discipline in practicing instruments and pointing out the importance of being spontaneous, especially within improvisation.

“Improv is what happens in the moment,” he said. “It’s about taking chances. There’s no right and wrong … we have a great time.”

Within the 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. five-day camp (with a concert on the sixth day, Saturday), Wetherbee includes physical warm-up activities in the morning and juggling classes (which he teaches) in the afternoon. Kids also can play Frisbee or soccer during the recess.

“Sometimes it’s hard to stress how important it is to have physical activity interspersed (with practicing) … to sharpen concentration,” he said.

Another fun – and new – aspect of the program is the three-day exploratory camp. Exploratory camp caters to kids who haven’t made up their minds about which instrument they wish to pursue. Kids will be able to play around with the flute, clarinet, trumpet, percussion and violin, then learn playing positions and simple songs for each instrument.


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