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Youths find their 'passion' at music camp

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Eighteen local children will be showing off their singing chops, dance moves and musical-instrument-playing abilities later this week, at Clayton State University's Spivey Hall, as the concert venue's first-ever summer music camp wraps up.

The camp's finale will be a joint concert with the Charlotte Children's Choir.

Throughout the week-long summer camp, participants have been preparing for the concert. They will sing three songs on their own, including composer Greg Gilpin's high-spirited rendition of the children's song "This Ol' Man." The youths will also play "America the Beautiful" on tone chimes, and a few selections on orff percussion instruments.

The local children will conclude their solo portion of the concert with do-si-dos, bows and promenades during a square dance. The Charlotte Children's Choir will sing a couple of songs, and then the two groups will sing a pair of songs together.

"It's been going really well," said Craig Hurley, director of the camp and Spivey Hall's Young Artists program. "The main focus is the choral singing and learning how to play instruments, but we've also been doing some folk dancing, and playing music theory games. Then we've also done some fun stuff, like a water balloon toss, so it doesn't feel like they're at school."

The concert will begin Friday at 3:30 p.m., in Spivey Hall, which is located on the Clayton State campus, at 2000 Clayton State Blvd., in Morrow. There is no admission fee to attend the 45-minute concert, and the general public is invited to attend, Hurley said.

The majority of the participating children come from Clayton and Henry counties, said Spivey Hall Education Manager Amber Joy Dimkoff. She said nine youths come from Henry County, and another six are from Clayton County. The remaining campers are from Fayette, Rockdale and Butts counties, Dimkoff said.

Several of the children said they are participating in the camp because of lifelong interests in singing, and music. Many of them said they would like to participate in Spivey Hall's Young Artists program in the future.

"I really like singing - it's my passion," said camper Dominique Muhammad, 10, of Jonesboro. "I've been singing since I was about 4. I just like singing different songs, and learning about the traditions they have, and where they come from."

On Wednesday afternoon, the children rehearsed Gilpin's take on "This Ol' Man," which adds in several new lines, like "Lou, Lou, Skip to my Lou" during the second verse, and "rollin' rollin' rollin' rollin'," which comes after "this ol' man came rolling home." During the song, the children perform several activities, such as pretending to be stung by a bee, rolling their arms in circles, and starting to tell a "knock-knock" joke.

Steve Woodell, the piano accompanist for the Spivey Hall Young Artists Choir, also gets into the act by playing a segment of British composer Euphemia Allen's "Chopsticks" during the children's song. The children indulge Woodell at first by smiling and allowing him to play a few bars of the waltz, but then they do a karate chop in his direction and exclaim "Chop that!"

Dimkoff said a handful of campers have signed up to audition for spots in Spivey Hall's Young Artists Choir since the camp began. A few of the campers, like McDonough residents Cole Austin, 10, and Austin Veale, 10, said they will be auditioning for spots in the choir today.

"I enjoy it [singing] because I can express my feelings while I'm doing it," Austin said.

Veale said he especially likes singing Alan Naplan's Hebrew hymnal, "Al Shlosha D'Varim," because he "just gets a good feeling" when he sings it. The song is a musical version of a Jewish morality law, which states the world is maintained by truth, justice and peace, according to the web site for sheet music provider J.W. Pepper. All of the lyrics are in Hebrew, Veale said.

It is one of the songs the campers will sing with the Charlotte Children's Choir at the concert.

"It just sounds good, and when everybody sings it together, I just feel good," Veale said.

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On the net:

Spivey Hall: http://spiveyhall.org/