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Marshall Jazz ... Camp?Posted Thursday, August 12, 2010, at 3:07 PM
From left: Justin Branum, a St. Louis swing jazz fiddle & mandolin player; Jacob Means; and Ronna.
A couple of people suggested that might not be the best idea, and while it sounded good to me at the time, I'm glad to concede I don't know all the pros & cons.
But we're at the Play Doh stage in this project; not much about the event is chiseled in stone yet. It might take any shape we can make it. There really are only three things I want to hang onto: 1) it takes place in and helps enrich Marshall, 2) it involves jazz music and 3) it includes an educational element.
So I'd like to toss out another format for consideration: a music camp/festival.
I've heard a lot about music camps from people who attend them often, but I'd never been to one until last year, when my most excellent spouse gave me for my birthday a trip to Montana to the camp sponsored by the Montana Old Time Fiddlers Association. They let mandolin players hang out with them, too, you see.
I got to study for a week with Jacob Means, a talented young mandolin player, got to meet lots of nice folks and was immersed for a week in mountain air and music. I learned some things, too, some better techniques and some new tunes. I also relearned how to square dance (which I hadn't done since junior high) but promptly forgot.
The way this camp worked: Every day there were two morning instruction sessions, then a break for lunch (meals were provided), an afternoon session and then time to rest, practice or jam until dinner. After dinner one or several instructors would perform and members of the surrounding communities were welcome to attend. After the concert, square dancing until everyone got tuckered out.
On the last night there was a concert featuring all the students.
I know there are some music camps in Missouri, but not many that I could find. Does anybody know of any jazz camps in mid-state?
I really enjoyed the experience. It was an interesting combination of intense and informal. Students had the freedom to come and go as they wished, attend instruction sessions or go off by themselves to practice. But most people worked pretty hard, trying to learn as much as they could in the few days they had with their instructors.
There was a lot of camaraderie, sitting around campfires singing and playing, making new friends, learning new tunes.
It was very cool. And since it was in Montana, I mean that literally. We got snowed on in June!
What do others think? Anybody else been to music camp? Think that might be a good model to follow and revise to suit our purposes?
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Eric Crump is a former editor of The Marshall Democrat-News. He lives elsewhere now but still loves Marshall and Saline County. He's trying to catch up on all the stories he should have written while he was on staff.
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