CSU music camp ends on high note

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Jeylin White


Music was in the air, and the sound of harmonic vocals filled each corner of the room at Clayton State University's Spivey Hall, Friday afternoon.

Youngsters, who attended the one-week music camp at CSU, practiced intensely, with anxious anticipation, as the clock ticked ever closer to the all-important "close-out demo-concert" to showcase the students' musical talents -- and what they'd learned -- for parents and visitors.

"We worked a lot, and we used our time," said CSU Music Camp Director Craig Hurley. "I'm really proud of what they have been able to achieve in a week."

The youngsters were set to perform several folk and jazz songs, as well as spirituals, during the concert. They even coordinated a special combination -- "How Sweet It Is," by James Taylor, with the Georgia Tech Men's Acapella Group's "Sympathetic Vibrations" -- said Hurley.

CSU Education Coordinator Catherine Giel has been the activities coordinator for the camp for the last three years, and said it was designed for both girls and boys, elementary-and middle-school aged.

For one week in June, youths have the opportunity to work with music specialists, Hurley and Steven Wooddell. The camp features singing, sight reading, music theory, and playing instruments such as tone chimes and the piano. Youngsters also have the opportunity to learn folk dances, as well as other choreography.

"We had three goals," said Hurley. "One was to give them experiences with lots of different musical activities. We wanted each person to become a better musician, and we wanted them to have fun."

Giel said the students, who decided to attend the camp, didn't necessarily have to be well-versed in music, or have any particular vocal skills. There is no audition process, she said. "We just want to accept any child who wants to learn with us.

"We don't have any requirement in terms of how much music experience they've had," she added. "We take beginners-to-intermediate level. The only requirement we have is that they fill out the application, and have a teacher's recommendation."

However, Giel said, most of the children were already involved in chorus at school. But, for the ones who were attending the camp for the first time, she said, it was great to see their transformation, and watch them develop a deeper interest in music.

The camp, Giel said, serves about 25 children, on average, but she is hoping to grow it accommodate more. "We would love to offer more individual instruction, but, so far, we only get about 25 applicants a year," she said. "But, if we ever got more than that, we certainly would do everything we could to accommodate them."

Hurley said that, although camp is specifically focused on music, it's still summer, and they try to incorporate other fun activities. "We've played toilet-paper games, and had water-balloon fights, and fun things like that, just because it's camp," he said.

Sidney Looney, 12, said this is her second time attending the music camp, and this year has been even more exciting for her. "It's been really fun, I've enjoyed the singing and dancing," she said.

While twirling her thumbs in a circle, she said she was really nervous about performing in front of her parents during the demo-concert, but she couldn't wait to perform her favorite song, "Blue Skies." "It was really difficult learning some of the songs, but, I still had a lot of fun," said Looney.

Her campmate, Nicholas Newton, 10, didn't seem nervous at all, however. Unable to contain his excitement, he burst forth in a loud voice, saying it was his first time attending the camp, and then, began recalling all the highlights of his camp experience. "I got to sing, dance, and I got to play the tone chimes," he said. "The most exciting thing about camp was dancing and playing games."

Both he and Looney said another highlight for them was meeting new people and making new friends.

The music camp ran from Monday, June 13, to Friday, June 17.

Giel said, there are more camps offered on Clayton State's campus throughout the summer, and anyone who is interested can visit the school's web site at, www.clayton.edu, and click on continuing education, to get more information about youth summer programs.