By Amanda Smith Roberts
As each year seems to fly by faster than the last, I always look forward to the warm months of summer, when we get to enjoy all of the outdoor events that take place in the Jane Carr Amphitheater at South Shore Conservatory (SSC). Cold winter months, however, signify impending summer fun, as summer planning is in full swing this time of year. For me, this means planning the next American Music Camp (AMC) for Strings! AMC for Strings began at SSC in the summer of 2015 when I had the vision of bringing a diverse string camp to South Shore Conservatory. The goal was to provide students with fun classes and creative opportunities that would boost their playing skills, introduce them to new musical styles, improvisational skills, various techniques for their instruments, all of which help them enjoy creating and sharing music with each other. The 2015 inaugural camp was such a great success that the faculty and majority of student campers returned for our 2016 camp.
The wide range of camp classes allows students to explore new areas of string playing. To ensure students are placed in classes geared to their interests, playing level, and age group, each camper is asked to fill out a questionnaire where they can both choose classes they are most interested in joining, and tell me a little bit about themselves. A top favorite class has been Old Time Radio Show, reminiscent of Prairie Home Companion, where students learn to write a script and run a variety show that hosts the daily student recitals. Faculty interviews, student-told jokes, and a game show were a few of the many fun components of this class. Another big hit was Movie Music and Arranging, where students create their own renditions of their favorite film scores. SSC’s rock-star, guitarist Erik Calderone joined the AMC faculty last summer, and formed the “Noodle Band,” a large student rock band that wrote some rockin’ songs – specifically about pasta. We had so much fun!
It is hard to explain the unique AMC experience in words, so we are offering a FREE preview of the camp to anyone looking to try it out! The AMC Preview event is Saturday, March 11 from 3-6 pm in Hingham. Students are encouraged to bring their instruments and join us for FREE fiddle workshops provided by the amazing AMC faculty! This event is open to students ages 3-18 of all levels, experience, and stringed instruments (violin, viola, cello, bass, guitar, mandolin). Classes include: Irish and American Styles, Rock’n’Roll, Irish Foot Percussion, Improvisation, Jamming, and more! We will also hold a raffle to give students a chance to win a mandolin and other prizes!
AMC for Strings gives students a taste for what is possible on their instruments, and helps them find their individual musical voices. This five-day summer camp provides opportunities for all string students, ages 3-18, regardless of their experience or musical background. Each day includes an all-camp jam session and student performances in the amphitheater, where kids can showcase anything from solo works to original band projects formed with friends at the camp. One would have to fly all over the nation to accumulate such an expansive variety of experiences that they will gather in five days. I could not be more excited to continue offering something so unique and wonderful for anyone looking for an amazing musical experience!
South Shore Conservatory’s American Music Camp for Strings runs from June 25-30 at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham. For more information about the camp or the preview event, visit www.sscmusic.org, find South Shore Conservatory on Facebook, or call 781-749-7565, ext. 10.
Amanda Roberts is the chair of South Shore Conservatory’s string department.