At AAPS’ summer music camps, students create music together in person for the first time in months

The first-ever Instrumental Music Day Camp for grades 6-9 is expected to become an annual event

By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor

It’s been 15 months since AAPS orchestra and band students have been able to perform together in person.

So the sound of scales coming from under the arches at Huron High School has been particularly delightful.

Among the AAPS Summer Music sessions offered by AAPS this year is the brand new Instrumental Music Day Camp designed in part to close some of the gaps younger musicians may have experienced this past year.

“We’re getting ready to get back into orchestra and band in person,” said Scarlett Middle School Orchestra teacher Brittany Osman, who directs the Instrumental Music Day Camp. “And we’re trying to close some gaps. We didn’t get to see the kids for about a year and a half, so we get to have them in person and get them ready for what they’re going to experience next year. Also, a lot of these kids have never played in a full ensemble because they’ve only been online. So we’re trying to show them what is actually band and orchestra, and why it is cool to do it.”

The Instrumental Music Day Camp is a chance for AAPS students to play music together again in person for the first time in 15 months.

Sixty band and orchestra students participated in the Instrumental Music Day Camp representing incoming 6th through 9th graders from all AAPS middle schools.  Nineteen high school band and orchestra students representing Huron, Skyline, and Pioneer instrumental music programs served as camp counselors. 

The counselors coached the students in sectionals, chamber groups, and large ensembles.  They also lead daily activities such as Hot Seat, Capture the Flag, Red Light Green Light, Statues, and more, making camp fun and inspiring for the younger students, Osman said.  

Osman conducted the orchestra and one of the all-camp symphony pieces while Henry Pakela and Amanda Blackson were the band directors and Pakela conducted one of the symphony pieces. 

“We have had an absolute blast being able to play music with kids in person and it rejuvenated our souls to see the kids rekindling and building new friendships the old-fashioned way.  We are so excited to be able to present the first in-person concerts in AAPS since Orchestra Night 2020.”  

Brittany Osman

In addition to Instrumental Music Day Camp at Huron, the AAPS Summer Music Program is running several other in-person music classes this summer, all meeting for three weeks.  Fifth Grade Fun With Strings, Intermediate Orchestra class, and Advanced Orchestra class are held at Ann Arbor Open and led by Timario Wilkins, and Jazz Composition, Ann Arbor Big Band, and Jazz Combo classes led by Sean Dobbins are held at Huron. 

The second session of Summer Music classes begins next week with percussion and drumline workshops at Huron led by Pete Goodman.  Registration for one of the percussion classes is still open.

The Summer Music Program is open to all levels of instrumental music students in grades 6-12 in Washtenaw County and runs through July 22.

The Instrumental Music Day Camp concluded on July 1 and is expected to be held annually from now on.

“We look forward to inspiring and connecting more young musicians in our community,” said Osman, “for many years to come.”

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