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Summer Instrumental Music Camp Students Put on One Cool Finale

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During these hot summer months, the well-loved sounds of summertime are everywhere: Children laughing on playgrounds; lifeguard whistles and water splashing; birds singing well into the evening hours.

If you’re a student in CCSD59’s Instrumental Music Camp (IMC) program, another sound of summer is the song set played in the final music concert. This year, on July 7, the IMC students put on the annual show at Grove Junior High School for their classmates, families, and friends.

The show is truly a testament of how much the students have learned in the three-week summer program. IMC is for CCSD59 students in grades 5 through 7 who either currently play with their school’s band or orchestra, or would like to join and want some extra practice. The student musicians meet with the instructors for three and a half hours every day for the duration of the program and participate in the culminating concert on the final day.

“It is astounding to see what the students and instructors are able to do in just 3 weeks,” said Bill Timmins, assistant principal of Friendship Junior High. “Many of them return year after year because the IMC program is a great experience for everyone that loves music.”

Although three weeks may sound like a very short time, music teacher Susan Mocarski points out that the program is also very accelerated. “In one week of IMC, we see students for as many hours as we see the fifth-grade beginners in an entire year, so you can imagine how much we are able to accomplish in 3 weeks. It’s also a wonderful time to really get to know the awesome kids we are so fortunate to teach.”

In addition to the value of the extra time they have and how that contributes to musical development, IMC students also have the opportunity to rehearse and perform with other students from across CCSD59. Band teacher Craig Sunken said this creates opportunities for musical growth that is influenced by past experiences and viewpoints from multiple students and staff. “The format of IMC is a very music-intensive scenario where we spend a great deal of time with the students every day and really are able to dig deep into the music,” he said.

The IMC staff team says the students thrive on learning new music and techniques and making friends from other schools who share their love of music. They are often invigorated by the experience, which is quite an accomplishment considering it is taught over the summer months.

The culmination concert was an awesome success, as the packed gym was full of family members smiling, cheering, and videoing the performances. The students, who were divided up into four bands based on grade and grouping (band or orchestra), played everything from “We Will Rock You” by Queen to “Dixieland Salute” by Andrew Balent to “Everything is Awesome” arranged by Ralph Ford. There was a wide variety of arrangements to suit every taste, and everywhere you looked, tapping feet and hands were accompanied by beaming smiles.

As for the students themselves, they’re happy to sing the praises of the program, too. Friendship student Ronald K. said he felt that he was “getting a musical advantage over the students who couldn’t be at camp.” Grove student Ramiro V. said he enjoyed having a chance to play solo with the band and that “having a new experience over the summer was really great.” One student in the advanced orchestra group told Mocarski he was happy he was able to play all the music, and was most proud of being able to play “Smoke on the Water.”

The teachers and staff associated with the program find it equally enjoyable and echo the students’ sentiments.

Christina Hoblin, instrumental music teacher, summed it up well: “I am so glad to have this opportunity for our students. It’s such an incredible atmosphere for them, and such a great way to connect all the students throughout the district. Not to mention, they really are able to hone their craft and truly get excited about learning.”

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