Children from around the Pittsburg area partook in a unique and new experience that involved learning about music.
The first Pittsburg Summer Music Camp was held June 3-7 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. with a concert on Saturday, June 8 at 11 a.m. The music camp featured instruction by PSU students and faculty and local music professionals in a variety of subjects, including rhythm, choral studies, piano, and jazz combo. PSU professors Raúl Munguia and Denissa Rivas organized the camp for young kids and employed senior in music Bryan Amor and professional musician Carol Cook to help teach different classes at the camp.
“It’s a matter of what the city has to offer,” Munguia said. “The idea was to run a children’s music camp and see the reaction… This is an experimental pilot program.”
The camp had 15 students enrolled for the week, though some could not perform on the ending concert due to prior conflicts.
“We will sit down with the camp teachers and analyze what we could do for next year, if we do it at all,” Munguia said. “The way it’s going, it looks like we’re going to do it again.”
Munguia said that a large part of the camp is for students to encourage their parents to help them get involved in music.
“This will encourage their parents (to let them) take lessons,” Munguia said. “This is a great opportunity for them to get involved. That’s a lot of the whole idea right now. Hopefully, in the future, they will pick an instrument and stick to it.”
For the first hour on every day, the younger students participated in a program called “Rhythmic Discovery.” Rivas’ primary responsibility was to help students understand the concepts of rhythms on a foundational level.
“It is about how they can use the basic notes and rhythms and create their own thing,” Rivas said. “The kids wrote a two-line story… Then, they narrate the story using rhythm… Now, that they’ve internalized the beat, they can use this and move on to subdivisions… Not only are they using it, they know it and use it creatively.”
Rivas and her husband Munguia have had conceptions of the Summer Music Camp for a while but decided that this was the right year to follow through with their plans.
“We do concerts ourselves or recitals, but one thing we haven’t seen here is music activities for kids,” Rivas said. “… We said, ‘Let’s do this camp because these are the kids who will come to the music programs in our school.’ The students in these music programs will come to the universities and they will not be lost. They will already know it.”
Amor said that teaching the jazz combo section of the camp taught him more about being a professional musician.
“I was not exactly sure what to expect so I tried to cover all scopes,” Amor said. “… We are not just rehearsing music. We have talked about (music) theory, and how to operate as a professional musician. We learned how the classical/academia world of music differs from the jazz/pop commercial world of music… They taught me that you can never be too prepared… I had to be prepared every day and so did they.”