A week jammed with jammin’

Yukoners are an inclusive bunch and the Yukon Summer Music Camp is no exception. According to Steve Gedrose, camp coordinator for his second year, the camp is for all ages, “from three to 93”.

Last year, they offered classes for children as young as 18 months old. This year, they’re starting at age three.

Gedrose, himself, was a participant a few times.

“It’s not competitive. It’s more about nurturing. It’s not about grading or achieving a particular level.”

Three-year-olds “do counting, they do singing, they do movement”, Gedrose says, explaining orph. “Percussion is the main thing.”

This year, the camp has nine teachers from away (“just to offer some different instruction”) and five local teachers.

“We have Band Camp …

“Beginner Band is an opportunity for students to try a new instrument. Intermediate Band is for people with [at least] two years’ musical experience.

“For a lot of band students, there is a big lull in the summer,” Gedrose says, describing Yukon’s drought of musical instruction.

It’s also an opportunity to try something new, try a new instrument, meet some new friends.

The camp rents band instruments – woodwind, brass, piano, percussion and more – from Vanier Catholic Secondary School and, Gedrose says, it gives the school money for band trips and for purchasing new instruments.

It’s a win/win situation.

Gedrose hardly misses a beat in describing the camp’s musical offerings.

“We have Strings Camp, which includes both classical violin and fiddling.”

Gedrose says camps are pretty intense, but that a big advantage is that “sometimes information presented in a slightly different way will click …”

In Fiddle Band, a bunch of instruments are incorporated – cello, guitar, mandolins, acoustic base – all strings. The camp is always interested in expanding its repertoire of instruments if there is sufficient interest.

Swing for Strings is just that. It’s about playing “jazzier compositions … western swing or big band swing, and it’s starting to introduce improvisation”.

And what would music camp be without voices?

The camp offers a Choral Camp, which includes Vocal Jazz, Concert Choir and a Youth Vocal Ensemble. You can take private voice lessons and, Gedrose says, “There’s a one-day vocal workshop for exploring your voice, learning warmup exercises and exploring singing styles.”

Gedrose recalls one man of about 84 years who joined Vocal Jazz. He grew up around big band singers and was thrilled to be in the camp.

Then there is Guitar Camp (mostly acoustic) with a variety of lessons for children and adults.

And Rock Band “to engage younger teenagers. People take turns soloing … it’s AC/DC material and Journey.

Ever heard a recorder ensemble? Well, they offer that, too, in alto, soprano and bass recorder.

And, Gedrose says, “We just thought there might be a lot of people with an accordion under their bed” … so, you guessed it – there’s an Accordion Band.

For the first time, the camp is also offering Musical Art Class where participants can explore a variety of media including handmade paper, willow baskets and sculpture.

And the cherry on top? – Showcase Day on the final Saturday at the Yukon Arts Centre.

“Just about everybody does a number …

“That’s a big motivator for people to get on the Arts Centre stage and perform for their family and friends.”

Family and friends is a large part of what all this is about, too. “We get a lot of families coming. That’s always fun,” Gedrose says with a broad smile. He adds that many children have grown up going to the camp, now in its 23rd year and, when children grow and move on, the parents often continue.

 To find out more, visit www.yukonmusiccamp.ca.

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