Local youths tone their pitch at music camp

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Curt Yeomans


Alexandria McMath attributes her decision to participate in the Second Annual Summer Music Camp at Clayton State University's Spivey Hall, to the fact that her parents recently bought her a "baby" -- a Baby Grand Piano, that is.

The Marietta youngster said her parents bought the instrument for her, since she is always playing on an electronic keyboard at a friend's house -- even though she has never had a piano lesson in her life.

The purchase, in turn, has led to her coming to Spivey Hall's music camp, participating in a piano class, singing sessions, folk-dancing classes, and learning how to play tone chimes and xylophone-like, orff percussion instruments.

"I wanted to attend the camp because I just got a piano, and I want to learn how to play it," said McMath, 11.

Twenty-seven budding musicians, including McMath, from across the metropolitan Atlanta area, are in the one-week camp this year, said Spivey Hall Young Artists Choir Director Craig Hurley. He also is the camp's lead instructor. "That's up 10 children from last year," he said.

Hurley said the camp aims to get children accustomed to different types of music, which is why they spend the week learning, playing different types of instruments, and singing.

"We want them to improve their skills in each area, and we want them to have fun, and meet new friends," he said.

A new activity this year is piano class, taught by Steve Wooddell, who is the accompanist for the Spivey Hall Young Artists Choir. The students spend part of their day in the piano lab located in Clayton State's music building, learning the proper way to position their fingers for piano playing, and how to find the keys for each note.

"It's just a good introduction for the kids," Wooddell said. "They're getting the basics of piano playing. I think it helps that there are other children in here to learn with them."

According to Hurley, the camp will culminate in a free concert on Friday, at 3:30 p.m., at Spivey Hall, where the camp participants will sing three songs, play four songs on the orff instruments, and two songs on the tone chimes, and perform some folk dances.

McDonough youngster, Sidney Looney, 11, said there has not been a single thing at the camp that has not been an enjoyable experience. She said singing attracted her to the camp. "I just came because I like to sing," Looney said. "I like to sing hymns because [they] are beautiful songs."

Zoe Reddick, 11, of Jonesboro, echoed those sentiments. Reddick learned about the camp through her participation in the Young Artists Choir. Like Looney, she said her main reason for participating in the camp was the singing parts.

"I heard a lot of people say it was a lot of fun last year, and that there was lot of singing, and I love to sing," Reddick said.

Another McDonough youngster, Rebecca Pulliam, 10, said she is participating in the camp for the second year, because "it was really fun last time." She is attending with her sisters, Hannah and Rachel. Like Rebecca, Hannah Pulliam is also in her second year at the camp.

"Mr. Hurley is probably the main thing I like about the camp," Rebecca Pulliam said. "We have a really good teacher, who teaches us a lot."