Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summertime, Part II

Last week I had the privilege of volunteering at an arts camp here in Annapolis.  Arts Mentorship Academy, run by Creating Communities, is a weeklong camp for underprivileged youth in Anne Arundel County.  Interest and participation this year was so great, 2 camps ran concurrently; the 120 students, ages 7 - 17,  divided to small groups, enjoyed learning various art forms taught by master artists and teachers.

Each morning started with a short meditation, where the children quieted themselves, read affirmations and poetry, and prepared for the day ahead.  One class taught the art of journaling and book-making; another featured origami.  I assisted in the painting room, where we painted picture frames and created a 4 panel mural "Life Is Art Is Life," which was the theme of this year's camp.  

The dance portion of the camp was especially noteworthy.  The 10 or 12 students in each group collaborated on a dance, each group creating its own ballet, hip-hop, or blues expression.  The children work together to develop a theme, offered suggestions, and chose dance steps and gestures to express their theme.  The final product was a beautiful portrayal of cooperation.

As do many arts camps, Arts Mentorship Academy brought the week to a close with a performance.  The campers invited family and friends to Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, to see and enjoy all that they had learned over the week.  I have already doted on the dancers.  Some children displayed their journals, and shared some of their entries, specifically a day or experience in their life that is etched upon their heart.  The stories all told of the love of family, and brought a tear to many an eye in the audience.  Others read affirmations and poetry they had written.  Two boys spoke on what this camp experience meant to them.

At the close of the program, all were invited to share a meal before heading home.  These kids took home with them great experiences of leadership and cooperation; they learned to calm themselves when all around them is wild; they learned to express themselves through dance, words, music and art.

To learn more about the Arts Mentorship Academy, and to see how you can support this and other various  on-going projects and programs, please go to  There you can also see pictures from camp.  What a great week it was! 

Sunday, June 17, 2012


...and the living is easy.  With fewer students in the summer, I have extra time to consider volunteer options in the community.  I had run a piano class at the Stanton Center in Annapolis last year.  Seven girls on seven keyboards.  We all enjoyed the camaraderie and the creativity.  Not sure I can beat that.

So, I've offered to return to the Stanton Center, and perhaps the LightHouse Shelter as well.  I love teaching, and I love sharing the joy of creating music with others.  Wish me luck.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Spring Soiree

I hosted our annual spring soiree last night.  I think this is the kids' favorite performance opportunity of the year.    First they play whatever it is we've been working on these last few weeks, then it's cookie bedlam and open-piano, when they get to play anything and everything.  It is always a pleasure to see the parents' faces when their child is performing, a privilege I am denied at the formal Spring Recital.

No, the soiree is an informal music party, where we gather around the living room, and enjoy the children's successes.  I had one adult student join us this year.  Not to play, oh, no.  He had a much more important role, that of drawing the name of the next performer.

Yes, the students perform in random order.  No time to get nervous.  Just walk on up and give it your best.  One of my youngest students, just 5 years old, fractured his wrist last week.  He still wanted to play!  He performed the Ode to Joy, from Beethoven's 9th, and The New World Symphony, by Dvorak, right hand alone.  And no music!  He got up from the bench, bowed very confidently, and rushed back to his mother's lap.

I'd stated in an earlier post that The Bow needs attention.  We worked on that last night.  Funny thing, the kids seem more self-conscious with The Bow, they feel silly and the subject of possible ridicule.  They are very comfortable at the piano, even when they forget where to start, even when they make mistakes, even when I ask them to play it again.  The Bow has been my most challenging lesson -- go figure.

I love the soiree.  I love the kids' confidence and enthusiasm.  I love the parents' pride and satisfaction.  I love that they can see how I interact, a little differently with each child.  Oh, I love my job!