Young musicians take the stage at Thurnauer music camps
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Young musicians take the stage at Thurnauer music camps

This camp is really for students who love music. The faculty wants to show them music; we’re not trying to get them to do anything but have fun playing," says Brian Drye, director of the JCC Jazz Camp at the JCC Thurnauer School of Music at the JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly. The JCC Jazz Camp, along with the FluteStars camp, also at the JCC Thurnauer School, offers small-group lessons for students of various skill levels plus intensive opportunity to practice, play, and perform.


Participants in last year’s JCC Jazz Camp at the JCC Thurnauer School gather with their instruments. PHOTO BY MICHAEL C. Reingold

With spots still available in both camps, budding musicians can sign up for one or two weeks of jazz camp, July 30 to Aug. 10, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. FluteStars takes place from Aug. ‘7 to 31, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Participants will be grouped according to their experience level.

"The atmosphere at both camps is so conducive to enjoying music-making and to making progress without really being conscious of it," says Dorothy Kaplan Roffman, director of the JCC Thurnauer School. "It’s not intense in pressure, it’s intense in concentration." According to Roffman, students are drawn from both inside and outside of Thurnauer, with many coming from public school music programs. "It’s a wonderful way to feel inspired over the summer and to make progress and prepare for the fall in a setting that’s smaller and more intimate and without the pressures that kids feel during the school year. It’s a relaxed setting that’s social and fun and musical."

In its third year, the JCC Jazz Camp is for beginning, intermediate, and experienced students ages 1′ and up who are interested in exploring jazz and improvisation. Director Drye is a professional trombonist and brass player who tours and performs extensively with various orchestras, chamber groups, and brass ensembles. Other faculty members are specialists in saxophone, guitar, trumpet, piano, drums, and bass, and all participate in the student ensembles.

"We really focus on any instrument," says Drye. "We hope for a range of instruments, because it’s more conducive to jazz, but we sometimes get strange groups of instruments and that works, too." In past camps, student players have included violinists and cellists.

Drye says that he’s "never seen a participant not improve, because they’re playing so much every day. The only thing that could hold someone back is a bad attitude." He describes the atmosphere in camp as relaxed, not pressured, with a schedule to follow, but also time left for breaks. "The great thing is that kids get to perform every day and we don’t dumb down the music for them. We may choose some simpler music, but we treat each group as if they’re professional, not just a student group."

The camp’s daily schedule features an improvisation session followed by ensemble practice. After a lunch break, there is a performance forum, a session in theory and listening, and then more ensemble practice. The jazz camp will hold student concerts on Aug. ‘ and 9 at 7 p.m., with a final performance, which is open to the public, on Friday, Aug. 10 at Davis Johnson Park in Tenafly.

FluteStars Summer Camp, directed by flutist Noelle Perrin, is for intermediate and advanced flute players. The camp begins at 8 a.m. with master class private lessons, alternating with private practice. There’s a break for snacks at 10 a.m., followed by chamber music rehearsals and small-group classes until lunchtime. In the afternoon, students join in a large group rehearsal and finish the day with swimming in the JCC’s pool until 3:30 p.m.

Students will end their camp week by performing solos and group music in a Friday concert for family and friends.

Tuition costs $4’5 ($400 for JCC members) for Flute- Stars; jazz camp is $500 for one week ($450 for JCC members) and $8’5 for two weeks ($775). For more information or to register, call the JCC Thurnauer School at ’01-569-7900, ext. ’35.

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