I would like to thank PRCAC for helping me become a part the Meadowmount School of Music's 2016 summer festival. My trip there turned into the greatest musical experience of my life. Meadowmount life was rough, but rewarding. Besides the required five hours of daily practice (save Sundays), my peers and I were expected to perform in masterclasses with renowned teachers, take weekly private lessons, attend intensive chamber music coachings, and compete in the chamber competition, the "playoffs." My chamber group competed, and we were one of the lucky groups that actually won a concert! The amount of progress I achieved there in seven weeks would not have been possible back home, even if it took me a years' time! Aside from the productive musical environment, I met and became great friends with many people from Texas, Florida, England, Japan, and even Australia. I will remember these people, the amazing things I accomplished, and the wonderful experiences at Meadowmount for the rest of my life! Thank you so much, PRCAC, for helping me achieve my goal!
I would like to thank PRCAC for providing me with another opportunity to spend my summer at music camp. This year, I attended Indiana University Summer String Academy, which I have also attended two prior summers. Since this year is my last summer before college auditions, I worked with university professors and IU music performance majors to prepare the music I plan to perform in my auditions. Aside from individual lessons and practice time, I also played with a fantastic chamber group and met new friends from the US, France, Argentina, Japan, and Hungary. My chamber quartet became a very close knit group and we even won the academy-wide Haydn competition. Another amazing experience was watching Joshua Bell in concert and meeting him afterwords, courtesy of the IU string academy. After spending another summer at IU I feel confident that I have improved my technique and will be able to practice more effectively at home.
Thank you so much for your generosity!
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This summer was so fun! I was able to go to two weeks of Spotlight Youth Theater summer camp thanks to PRCAC. They were both maybe my favorite camps ever! I made so many friends and I miss them very much.
The theme for the first week of camp was Super Heroes. I made some new friends and had the opportunity to mentor some of the younger campers on my team. I learned a whole lot of dancing. This camp really got me more interested in dancing. I remember we did dancing across the floor and it was so fun! At the end of the week we performed a showcase for our families. I received one acting part and three vocal parts. I messed up one of my solos and I was pretty bummed, but it was a learning experience. Overall, it was a pretty fun camp. I learned the most new things in singing, and I love to sing and want to get better.
The second week of camp was even better! The second week I was enrolled in a more advanced camp geared toward older students: Rockin' Pop Opera. This camp featured numbers from many popular Broadway shows including: In the Heights , The Wiz , Little Shop of Horrors and the new, multi Tony Award winning show, Hamilton . The dances were so hard, but also twice as fun. My favorite dance we did was to the song "In the Heights " where we got to dance salsa. I also learned a great deal of acting techniques, and how to do a great audition. I was so excited to be cast in the role of Peggy Schuyler, a supporting role in the show Hamilton . I really pushed myself a lot for "The Schuyler Sisters", a very demanding song that required singing in three part harmony. That is hard, but let me tell you - it sounded awesome! In the end, this was one of my best summers ever! Thank you Park Ridge Cultural Arts Council!
Hope your summer was fantastic, mine absolutely was. Every single day at Northwestern was filled to the minute with intense and enriching training and rehearsing in theatre arts. I worked for 14 hours a day with professional, working actors, directors and coaches, in classes such as acting, voice and movement, performance theory, text analysis, scenery crew, and classes in specific theories or methods such as viewpoints and Russian scene work. We also saw multiple professional shows, all of which gave me exposure to the world of theatre beyond the rehearsal room, and we even produced our own productions as final showcases.
I came back from this incredible 7-week experience feeling awakened and driven, determined to apply everything I gained to my everyday life. The overarching takeaways for me were that "if you can strive to devote yourself to even the most tedious action, you have more energy to give and awaken awareness and focus" (which I wrote in a journal entry on the third day of class); that our body is our greatest vehicle, and our breath is our greatest tool; that "the general is the death of art" (quoted from a teacher of mine); and that the imagination is powerful. I now look at not only my art, but the world, differently. My mind and body have been awakened to function in a consistently energized manner.
Yes, these statements are very broad. I could write a book on everything I learned as a Cherub, whether that be Droznin, a Russian movement technique, or every listen and response exercise my teacher taught me, or the viewpoints-based art of movement to music. I could write a sequel to that book on how many simply fun experiences I had as a Cherub, such as watching the sunrise at 5:47 AM, or taking a sledgehammer to wood in strike, or eating pizza in the dorm with my cast. The magic of Cherubs is far too great to capture in a few words. I hope, however, that I have illuminated for you a bit of what is at the heart of this transformative program. I also hope to share with you, and everyone I meet, the magic of Cherubs, in ways from leading ensemble building exercises in rehearsal to initiating discussion in my English class at school, or even sending a smile across the street.
I will leave you with the same quote my acting teacher left me with on the last day of class, which I feel is perfect to represent my experience and my excitement towards the future with my newfound knowledge:
"I can show you the gesture that means pointing to the moon, but from your finger to the moon is your responsibility."
I cannot thank you enough for helping me have this incredible experience, which has shaped me and my life in ways I never expected. Thank you.
August 15, 2016
Thanks to the support of the Park Ridge Cultural Arts Council, I had the opportunity to spend 3 weeks of my summer at Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan doing one of the things I love the most...singing. This was my first time attending Interlochen and I chose to major in vocal arts. This means I spent about 6 hours per day developing my voice through solo, small vocal ensemble and large choral experiences. I was under the guidance of an amazingly accomplished and supportive faculty and surrounded by super talented students from around the world. In fact, some of the cabin-mates and best friends I made during my camp experience were from China!
When I first arrived, I could see that inspiration at Interlochen starts with the setting. It's spread over a 1200 acre beautiful wooded campus filled with huge performance facilities like Kresge Hall and Corson. But, beyond the setting at Interlochen are the people. There is a sort of creative freedom that you feel walking across the campus, which comes from everyone there doing what they love. I chose to study vocal arts this summer, but there are music majors, theater majors, dance majors, visual arts majors and students studying motion picture arts as well as creative writing. There was always something going on at Interlochen and something to see...if I was not performing, I was going to see other students perform. I was so impressed at how good everyone was at what they did!
One of the performance highlights for me was called "Collage." "Collage" is when the entire student body at Interlochen comes together to create an amazing night of incredible art with performances by the World Youth Symphony Orchestra, World Youth Wind Symphony, creative writing students, small ensembles and all three musical theatre groups. This year's "Collage" launched a new campaign for Interlochen, which is called "Create Amazing." I felt really lucky to be a part of it since it truly is amazing! I also had the opportunity to perform a solo of the song, "Memories," from Cats. When I came to Interlochen, I had just started studying the song on my own, but by the end of camp I was chosen to perform as a soloist.
I'm already making plans to attend for 6 weeks next summer. I really improved my vocal techniques through vocal arts, but I plan on applying for the musical theatre program next summer where I'll focus not only on voice, but also theatre and dance. In short, Interlochen is a really special place filled with amazingly talented people - both the faculty and the students. I feel so fortunate to be a part of it and have to thank the PRCAC again for their tremendous support. Taylor Truckenbrod
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The scholarship that I was awarded this year helped fund my week long experience at a Nationals Dance Competition in Mason, OH. I danced in three dances in the competition. One number was a ballet dance called Degas. Degas was based off of the artist who painted pictures of dancers. Throughout the dance we posed in multiple poses that he painted of dancers.
I danced in a tap dance that was called Want you Back. The song was a cover of the Jackson 5 song Want you Back. Colbie Caillat sang the cover. This dance did well in the competition because it was a really fun dance and my friends and I worked hard to make the dance together.
I also danced in a dance called The Power of Beauty. This dance was in the choreography review and was also danced in New York City. The Power of Beauty got the runner up award for the choreography review. In New York City we danced a multi media show meaning we were dancing with a video playing behind us. We danced this show three times a day for three days on April 26 to April 28.
I was also chosen to be in the National Company Dance Spectacular which is separate from the competition. The most elite dancers are chosen to be in Dance Spectacular. The Dance Spectacular Company put on a showcase for an audience. I was in three additional dances to my competition dances in Dance Spectacular.
Nationals 2016 was an important experience for me.
This summer, I had the opportunity to attend one of the sessions of ISYM, or Illinois Summer Youth Music. This is a week long music camp, where campers have several hours of rehearsals and other musical classes. We got to live in some of the dorms on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus. Thanks to the generosity of the PRCAC, this was my second time attending this camp, and it was a blast!
I play the viola, so I went for the middle school orchestra program. I was placed in the Junior Orchestra, which unlike Junior Strings, is not just string instruments. I got to play and perform with a symphonic orchestra. It was amazing to get to perform not only with this amazing group of musicians, but also to play in the Foellinger Great Hall at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. This specific hall is renowned for having amazing acoustics and in the eighties and nineties, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) recorded here. Most of my day was spent in various rooms in Krannert, as well as the dorm building we were in. My favorite parts of the day were the rehearsals. I really enjoy playing in groups, but it was really cool to hear percussion and various wind instruments added to the sounds of the cellos, violins, bases and violas. Besides amazing young musicians, the faculty was also outstanding. The conductor of Junior Orchestra, Dr. Louis Bergonzi, is also a professor at the University of Illinois.
I enjoyed all of my classes, but the evenings were also very fun. Every night, there was a different activity. These ranged from talent shows and faculty recitals to a choice activity night (I chose ice skating) and the opportunity to explore the shops along one of the streets in town. After each night's activity, we still had at least half an hour before lights out. Overall, ISYM was an amazing musical experience. I really enjoyed myself, and also grew as a musician.
- Elizabeth Compton
My PRCAC scholarship grant enabled me to take four two-hour lessons with a piano professor at West Virginia University whom I have come to know quite well in the past few years, Dr. Peter Amstutz. WVU is the alma mater of my current piano teacher Christie Chiles Twillie, so West Virginia has been a natural musical connection and choice for me. In turn, it seemed fitting that I study with Dr. Amstutz, her former professor.
Last year was the first summer I studied with him, working on the third Beethoven piano concerto, and I found the experience very educational and enriching. He introduced me to several new and innovative practice techniques and helped me understand the way the structure of Beethoven’s music can help inform the phrasing and expression of it. This summer, the goal of my study with Dr. Amstutz was to begin work on some of the repertoire I will be using in my college auditions this winter, specifically the Beethoven piano sonata, Op. 101, and the Chopin Fantasy in f minor. I had not worked very much at all on the Beethoven prior to this summer, but in just that one week my grasp of the technique and expression of the piece increased drastically with Dr. Amstutz's instruction and insights. I felt a lot better about the Fantasy as well; I found Dr. Amstutz’s philosophy of rubato in Chopin’s music most helpful.
I look forward to using the tools Dr. Amstutz has given me as I continue to work toward a successful series of college auditions and acceptance into music school to study piano performance.
I had so much fun during the camps that PRCAC helped me do. I give them so much thanks for what they have done. I did two camps and they were both one week long. The first camp we did was called Disney Safari, and the second was called Broadway Kids. They were both so fun and educational. For the first camp I was a supporting lead and my character was Brother Bear. For the second camp I was a lead and my character was Darlene. It was so fun to really get into my character and get to know him/her. Brother Bear was very relaxed, and Darlene was sarcastic. Along with the singing, acting, and dancing, we also did fun themes for each day. Tuesday was Crazy Hair Day, Wednesday was Water Day and Team Spirit Day, Thursday it was Pirate and Princess day, and of course on Friday, it was Show Day. It was funny to see what everyone did. Doing camp was so exciting, especially because I made a lot of new friends. I have so many friends, and a lot of them were made during camp. Doing this camp has trained me in singing, acting, and dancing. It has helped me to be prepared for any shows, and performances I do in the future. I have been doing camp every year since I was five years old, and each year I learn something new and different. That is why I would really like to thank PRCAC for giving me the chance to do, learn, and try something new. They are the ones who gave me the opportunity to do this and I couldn't thank them more than I already do.
After 4 years of performing with Virtuoso Performing Arts, you would think that each show would become easier. Let me just say that this summer was extremely challenging. Virtuoso Performing Arts put together a production of Shrek the Musical this summer, and I was cast as Pinocchio. Little did I know that I would be doing so much more than playing a wooden boy all summer. Other than playing the part of Pinocchio, I was also cast as a Duloc dancer, a backup singer for the Dragon, and a dancing rat. (this would probably only make sense to you if you have seen the musical or the movie). I was also the dance captain this year which means that I helped with all of the dances and making sure that people were doing the right moves while in their right places.
I had a very busy summer. I was at summer school all morning and then I would get ready to spend four hours rehearsing for Shrek. This was also the first time in three years that I was not double casted. This means that I had to do the same parts for each show. That became very tiring when we had three shows a day. Over all I had a great experience which would not have been made possible without help from the Park Ridge Cultural Arts Council. They have helped my family be able to send me to camps that have enhanced my skills as a performer. For that I cannot thank them enough.
I attended Spotlight Youth Theater's Broadway Kids camp last week. I had so much fun there. I made new friends, and was very confident about being there. It was a huge privilege to be able to go to this camp and learn so much about acting, singing, dancing, and performing. I learned about how important diction is when you are performing, and how to be confident performing in front of people. It was such an amazing experience to go there for my first time ever. My dream is to perform on Broadway, and I will use every chance I get to learn and perform! This fall, Spotlight is doing a production of Les Miserables, and I like it here so much that I am auditioning for it. I want to thank the Park Ridge Cultural Arts Council for giving me the opportunity to go to this wonderful camp where I had so much fun and learned a ton!
Using my scholarship from the PRCAC, I attended the six-week Pre-College program at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in Providence, RI. Pre-College is an experience designed to resemble the first year, foundations year, at what is often called "the Harvard of art schools." Students stay in RISD dorms and eat at the RISD cafeteria, and are expected to manage their own time and behavior, much like at college. Students chose one of 21 majors; I chose Illustration. Each week was structured the same, with the same twenty students from my major in every class. On Monday we had Drawing Foundations; Tuesday and Friday were our major, Illustration. Wednesday was Critical Studies in Art (basically art history and analysis), and Thursday was Design Foundations. Class started at 9 am, and ended at 4 or 4:30 pm, with a lunch break midday. After class, most time was spent on assignments. RISD Pre-College was a lot of work, but I also got out what I put in. For every late night, a potential portfolio piece and valuable skills were created. Six weeks spent with the same people also forged incredible friendships, and the people more than anything were what made the experience so phenomenal. Pre-College provided a hint of what college will be like, and also helped me to know better what I want to do and where I want to go for college. Honestly, these six weeks at RISD were some of the best of my life and thank you so much to the PRCAC for helping me to experience them. Image: 3 6x6 miniature self-portraits, gouache
This summer, I enjoyed two weeks at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) Middle School Fashion Camp. We did everything to create our own fashion line: invented brand names and logos; sketched clothing designs with inspiration from art at the museum; made skirts and dresses on a sewing machine; and ended the camp showing our designs at a fashion show.
Making my first pieces of clothing was a dream for me. I loved being able to use the dress forms, sewing machines, and all the professional tools at the school. I enjoyed using them to create my very first piece: a simple circle skirt made from fabric I dyed myself! The next pieces were a bit tricky, though; I had to start from scratch without much help.
The dresses modeled at my first fashion show were made out of fabric from mens’ T-shirts that I bought on a field trip to the thrift store. (The thrift store wasn’t the only trip we took; we also visited the Art Institute.) I worked hard in the limited time I had, and I managed to complete two whole dresses in just three days!
I felt proud walking down the runway wearing a dress I had made myself. Everyone’s collection was unique. The thing was, we had to use a non-fabric item in our designs so that they would stand out in a crowd. I chose rubber bands.
I really enjoyed my time at SAIC and hope to go back. I’d like to thank the Park Ridge Cultural Arts Council for helping give me this unforgettable experience! -Amy Dorgan
I am so grateful that I was able to attend Indiana University's Summer String Academy, a four-week camp where musicians from all over the world study and teach for the summer. I fell in love with this camp when I attended in the summer of 2013, so I was excited when I applied and was accepted again this year. I received two private lessons a week, and practiced both individually and with a quartet every day. Every night, students were able to take a break from practice to listen to chamber groups and famous soloists from all over the world perform. Spending a month at Indiana University provided me with resources to improve as a musician, experience living at a university, and meet new friends that I will always stay in touch with. Attending Summer String Academy was the highlight of my summer; now that I am home, I miss it so much and I hope that I can attend again next year! I want to sincerely thank the Park Ridge Cultural Arts Center for supporting young musicians like me. I truly appreciate this opportunity that I was given!
This summer, I spent three weeks at the Bowdoin International Music Festival in Brunswick, Maine. The festival, which is in its 51st year, is held on the campus of Bowdoin College, and runs for a total of six weeks; participants can choose to stay for one of two three-week sessions or the full time. I arrived at the festival on a Saturday afternoon after spending nearly 20 hours in the car with my parents and violinist friend, Angela, who was also attending the festival. There wasn’t much time to relax - after settling into my dorm room and attending several orientation meetings, I had to squeeze in a few hours of practicing. I had a chamber music placement audition the next morning at 9:00 AM in front of the festival’s cello faculty.
I spent the entire evening before my audition drilling the complex technical passages of my piece, the Cello Concerto in A minor (3rd movement) by Camille Saint-Saens. My audition went well, even though it only lasted about two minutes. Our chamber groups wouldn’t be announced until Tuesday, so I had two full days to practice and get to know my roommate, Ailun.
Tuesday morning, we all received an email listing the chamber groups. I had been placed in a piano trio with two other girls who were around my age. Our assigned piece was Beethoven’s Piano Trio in B flat Major. I wasn’t excited about playing it at first - I’d heard it many, many times and didn’t particularly like it. Once I met my chamber group, however, rehearsing and performing it turned out to be a rewarding experience. We performed in an Artists of Tomorrow Concert, part of a series featuring students from the festival.
My private cello teacher was Amir Eldan, a professor from Oberlin College. He was a few days late to the festival and didn’t hear my audition, so I didn’t get to meet him until my first lesson. Before he even let me play anything, he asked me to tell him everything about myself in one minute. After I’d played, he gave me incisive comments and specific ways to practice certain sections of my piece. I knew that he would be able to help me polish and improve my concerto before my performance.
In addition to weekly lessons and chamber rehearsals most days, I also had technique class twice a week for two hours. Amir gave us scale and arpeggio exercises, and taught us how to use a tennis ball to practice vibrato. In the second and third weeks, we had master classes, where we would perform for each other and Amir and the other students would offer comments and constructive criticism. It was great to play in one of the master classes because it was like having an extra lesson. In addition to my rehearsals, lessons, and master classes, I practiced three to four hours per day.
Fortunately, it wasn’t work all the time. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings, we would go to faculty concerts, where teachers and guest artists gave solo as well as chamber music performances. The Bowdoin residential life faculty took us on off-campus weekend day trips – I went to the beach as well as a shopping excursion during the second week. The campus had workout facilities, so I was able to run on the treadmill and swim in the morning. Also, because we were allowed to leave campus, my friends and I often walked downtown in the evenings for gelato.
One of the main things that I liked about the Bowdoin Festival was the freedom to structure my daily routine and schedule. Since most of the participants were college students, we were expected to be responsible for ourselves. If you wanted to be on time to breakfast, you had to set an alarm and get up. Unlike at other music camps that I’ve attended, practicing was not monitored; you were expected to be diligent and self-disciplined. If you had a conflict and couldn’t make a lesson, you had to check the schedule and see if there was someone with whom you could switch.
I performed my concerto on Thursday of the third week. In the past I have experienced performance anxiety and struggled to control my nerves. Bowdoin was such a supportive environment and my teacher was so helpful that when it was time for me to perform, I was actually excited. It was an afternoon concert, and although not as well attended as the evening concerts, several of my friends and people from Brunswick came. They clapped so much after my performance that I took two bows!
My fantastic experience this summer would not have been possible without the generous scholarship from the Park Ridge Cultural Arts Council. The Bowdoin festival offered opportunities and challenges that enabled me to further my musical as well as personal growth.
Thank you Park Ridge Cultural Arts Council for my Youth Arts Summer Camp Scholarship. I am really looking forward to going to my Summer Band Clinic June 21st.
About a week ago, I returned from Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. I had a lot a lot of fun there and I got to experience many new things.
It wasn’t anything like I had ever experienced before. I’ll start with the cabin, now I’m not complaining but the cabins we were in were so cold! It didn’t have any heating or anything so it was like we were sleeping in tents or outside. Also when you would get up at 6 a.m. (which is technically 5 since Michigan is an hour ahead) if you had to go to the bathroom for any reason you would have to make a 30 foot trek in the freezing cold in just your pajamas. When I say freezing I mean literally freezing, the temperature in the morning was in the low 50s, high 40s almost every morning! I was really glad I packed jeans.
While I was at Blue Lake I met a lot of new people, made a lot of new friends and tried a lot of new things. One of the girls in my unit (a group of cabins) was from Nigeria and when I asked her what her favorite part of camp was she said that it was the ice cream that they served at the camp store and soon after we would go get ice cream together almost everyday. One thing that was different that we would go and see concerts and since I was in the jazz band this year I had a bigger appreciation for when the jazz band performed. Also something else that we did was the All-Camp Sing, which was where every unit performed a song. My unit did “the Lion Sleeps Tonight” and “I just can’t wait to be king” and honestly, it was pretty nerve-wracking because the camp is actually a lot bigger than one might think. In the fourth session alone there was about 1400 central campers, 200 staff and instructors, and about 250 junior campers. Speaking of instructors, I had the chance to play with a lot of really cool and accomplished instructors and conductors and without this scholarship I would not have gotten the chance to do so, so thank you very much to the Park Ridge Cultural Arts Council J. Another really cool opportunity that I got the chance to have was play in a huge trumpet section. There where 19 of us total and on top of that we weren’t even the biggest band, and also there was 3 more bands as well as orchestras.
About halfway through this I realized I didn’t even talk about my schedule so basically how my day started was I would get up at 6:00 and by 6:40 I had to be out in the center spot of the unit space so we could go as a unit to eat breakfast. After breakfast was over it was about 7:40 and you would have about 15 minutes to get to your first morning class. I say 15 because you were expected to be 5 minutes early for everything. Then after rehearsal ended at 9:30 we would have 10 minutes to head to sectionals which was when we rehearsed as a whole section, after sectionals was tech which started at 10:30, which we had 10 minutes to get to as well. After tech I was lucky enough to have a 50 minute break in which I would take the 10 minute walk back to my unit set my trumpet down and head to lunch. After lunch finished at roughly 12:45 it was minor hour. I unfortunately didn’t have a minor so I had a free hour and after that it was our afternoon rehearsal then after rehearsal ended at 3:50 you had recreation time from 4:00 to 5:00. After recreation was dinner and after dinner we would often go to concerts and one night we even saw an opera.
Overall I had a really cool experience so I want to thank the Park Ridge Cultural Arts Council again for giving me this opportunity.
Thanks to the generosity of the Park Ridge Cultural Arts Council, I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a week at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater band camp. Band camp is something that I had never done before; I was always doing other things in the summer that mostly involved theatre, rather than my bass clarinet. Lucky for me I was going with a pro - Allison Paxhia. She was my roommate and the one who started our trip to the small town of Whitewater Wisconsin. It was originally Allison's idea to go to band camp and I saw it as a great opportunity to improve my skills as well as spend time with a friend.
Our first day was Sunday the 20th. We got there for registration and then set up our dorms. We each had a desk, a dresser, and a place to hang up clothes and of course, a bed. Each day's schedule was generally the same. We got up early to go to breakfast in the dining hall which was a 10 min walk from our dorms. We then headed to the center of the Arts for our first full band rehearsal of the day. In rehearsals we worked on the music that we were going to perform on Friday for our final concert. After rehearsals we went to sectionals where we worked on music but just with our different instrument groups. After sectionals we headed off to our elective - which for me was a jazz improve class. Lunch was next. Some days we ate in the dining hall and other days we ordered Jimmy John's. Our second "all" band rehearsal was after lunch followed by and hour of free time. Once free time was over, it was time for our chamber rehearsal. Chamber is when all instruments come together to perform a piece. Our clarinet chamber did a gorgeous piece called "Ah Poor Bird," which we performed at our Thursday concert. After chamber we went to our sectionals for the last time in the day before performing at our evening concert. Every night we had a special concert that the staff put together. Sometimes it featured a special guest, other performances were by our peers or the staff. Then after that we had mail call and then free time before it was time to get some sleep.
I had a blast at UWW, learned a lot and can now play two octaves on almost all of my scales - something I had not been able to accomplish before this week. This opportunity will be something that I will remember for years to come and I am so glad that I got the opportunity to go. Thank you for all of your support. I would not have been able to go if it weren't for the generosity of the Park Ridge Cultural Arts Council!
Emerson Middle School
Dear Scholarship Committee,
Thank you so much for giving me a scholarship! I have been singing and acting for a few years now, and I just love doing Spotlight camps! I think that choosing to do these camps for a week is just enough time for me to memorize and rehearse my lines and songs. I have learned quite a lot during camp. I know already how to act, sing, and dance, but I learned a lot more in the 10 days of camp. I learned mostly that when you're performing a play and you are on stage but not during that scene, you still have to act beside the stage. Also, I love to sing, I sing all the time! I know if you hear me sing I am not perfect, but I'm a lot better at it now than I was before. So now, I'm not nervous about singing in front of a big crowd, in fact, I'm excited to!
You know that I'm just a kid, and that I don't do everything perfect, but I have big hopes for my future!
During the summer, I went down to the University of Illinois campus in Champaign/Urbana to learn about Jazz drums and jazz music in general. I got to stay there for an entire week sharing a dorm with my close friend, Griffin, who I have done this with last year.
I had to audition for this camp; this is how they choose what group you belong in. Unfortunately, the audition material is the exact same as last year's, so it didn't provide me with much challenge. I was selected to join a big band and a combo, a smaller jazz group that focuses mainly on improvisation. I was able to socialize very well with the rest of the rhythm section, so I was not one of those people left out. The meals were good and the teachers were fun-loving. My days there were very enjoyable.
Every day there began the same way. We were woken up by our alarms, then we went back to sleep for fifteen to thirty minutes. We get up and wash up, then go downstairs for breakfast. After breakfast we have about thirty minutes of free time. Then it's off to sectionals.
Sectionals are basically rehearsals for a specific section. The woodwinds, brass, and percussion broke apart into different classrooms across the campus. I was lucky enough to have all of my band things in the same building that our dorms are in. Our teacher gave us tips and tricks on how to blend with the band as well as play with good sound. I learned to control my playing to a level where I knew exactly when to get louder and softer in the music. After this class, we went to our improvisation class.
This class is based around soloing and making a groove on your own (of course with a few others around). Again, it was only percussion, but it was all of the percussion from the three bands that there were. The teachers here taught us to play different styles with the rhythm section and to solo on all of them. They taught trading measures (usually fours) and sight-reading chord progressions (which I didn't have to worry about). I learned a lot from this class. Next was our first band rehearsal of the day.
Rehearsal was when everybody got together to play whatever music the band director threw at us. We stuck to playing these four songs-- Blue Trane (John Coltrane), Lester Leaps In (Louis Armstrong), Killer Joe (Quincy Jones), and One O'Clock Jump (Louis Armstrong). I played on the first and last. The other drummer, Grant, played the other two. Blue Trane is a classic call-and-response chart designed to be a piece to sent a tingling jolt through your spine. Lester Leaps In is a fast-paced jazz composition that keeps you on your toes. Killer Joe takes it down a notch by being a calm, laid back piece, but it is written to sound mysterious. Then One O'Clock Jump (my favorite) is one of Louis Armstrong's classic slow rises of intensity to the point where there's so much going on that you want to dance. It is a very exciting piece that was insanely fun to play. In rehearsal, I learned to be exciting, but not too loud.
After this, we ate lunch and had another approximate thirty minute to an hour break. Once we rested, we either went to a combo rehearsal or, for those who didn't make it, music listening, which is basically a jazz analysis class. At our combo rehearsals, we played a couple refrains and then basically jammed out to the chorus chords. We may trade fours, we may not. The saxophonist may receive another chorus or set of choruses. We must watch the director at all times to know our cue. This is what I took back from that experience. After, we wait for rehearsal number two, as for me it is in the same room.
Once rehearsal number two is done, we go to our elective. We had to choose this elective before we got to camp. My choice was Composition Theory. I chose this because I have had an interest in composing for a while and I wanted to learn more. Some concepts I was able to grasp quickly, like the concepts of intervals such as seconds, thirds, etc. Others, not so much. I did take some knowledge on composing back, such as the informal form of it, using odd noises and sounds to craft a piece of music so foreign to many ears that it's almost gibberish, yet in context makes sense. There was a piece on the bombings in Japan in WWII that described the sounds at those moments. It was a very interesting class. Then, we were done learning for the day.
We had some free time, then our floor gathered for a head check in a location just outside the cafeteria doors just before and after dinner every day. After dinner came the fun stuff. Every day was different-- on Sunday, the first day, we went to a camp overview meeting and soon after gathered in a large room where we received camp information and figured out what band we were in. On other days we spent an afternoon on campus, watched The Lego Movie, enjoyed a teacher and student talent show, had a choice of going to a giant gym, going to the pool, or going bowling, and also had the option to go to an ISYM dance. There was no shortage of fun at U of I.
On Saturday, the last day, we held a big concert to display what we learned. It was a great success. We definitely displayed our hardest work and it paid off. A picture of me in this final concert is shown. I am in the very back, playing drums. This is our combo.
In all, I had an amazing fun and learning experience at ISYM, and I will definitely go again next year.