Portland camp hopes to keep student musicians tuned up

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PORTLAND — Educators are always concerned about summer slide, the loss of basic concepts that can happen when students are out of school.

This summer, two middle school teachers aren’t concentrating on reading or math skills, but musical ones.

In the first local summer band camp designed for incoming sixth- and seventh-graders, Audrey Cabral and Joyce Lavoie, band teachers at Lincoln and Lyman Moore middle schools, respectively, hope to refresh some of the musical concepts students learned during the just-concluded school year.

In addition, the two hope to introduce some new concepts related to playing an instrument, such as rhythm, breathing, note reading, and timing. The three-day camp will run Aug. 14 -16 at Lyman Moore.

The camp is free and is also open to Portland students who may not have picked up an instrument in fifth grade, but are now interested in learning to play and joining the band at their middle school.

Transportation will not be provided, so it will be up to participating families to get children to camp each day. The camp will run from 8:30-10:30 a.m. and conclude with an outdoor concert Aug. 17.

Cabral and Lavoie said the camp will focus on refreshing musical skills, as well as helping students to play better overall. Those who might want to relearn an instrument are also welcome, as are beginners, they said.

Anyone interested in signing up for the camp should contact Cabral at cabraa@portlandschools.org or Lavoie at lavoij@portlandschools.org.

Students who have their own instruments are asked to bring them, but for those who don’t have one, Cabral said, “We (can) provide them with an instrument for camp.”

She said students who cannot afford to rent an instrument would be able to use the instrument they receive at camp, “until they either graduate or stop playing” in a school band.

Cabral said there is no limit to the number of participants. If the number of students who sign up is too much for she and Lavoie to handle, they plan on relying on help from the band teacher at Portland High School, she said.

“I believe there are (also) some middle- schoolers that may come and help,” Cabral said. “They are good examples for beginning students to see (and it’s great to have) children their own age help them” improve.

Cabral said Lavoie has talked about the need for a summer band camp for “a few years now and we thought it was time to act on it.”

“We envision this as a refresher course for those students who started (an instrument) in fifth grade. We (also) thought it would be a good opportunity for those who want to start band now,” she said.

Summer “is a good time to have them start, rather than when they are new to their school,” Cabral added.

Along with providing a refresher course in basic music concepts, Cabral said the hope is that band camp participants will get to know each other better and meet some of the other students they will be playing with.

“They will also become more familiar with Joyce and me,” she said.

Curriculum goals for middle school band students also include “expanding their knowledge and understanding of playing an instrument; reading and playing more notes on their instruments; adding more complicated rhythms and more difficult band literature, to name a few,” Cabral said.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KirishCollins.

Students entering middle school are invited to participate in the Portland School Department’s first summer band camp. The goal is to get students ready to play when school starts. Pictured is the Lyman Moore Middle School band during its annual December concert.