Summertime is the perfect time for kids to explore the Arts, and for those with a musical gift, there's a special way to experience a little culture here in Jacksonville. Each year, for two weeks in June, The Prelude Chamber Music Camp & Festival brings together an elite group of string musicians to share their expertise with talented kids and teens. Bright young students of the violin, viola, cello, and bass, audition for the opportunity to sit in small class settings to learn valuable insights from the pros. Many of the instructors are from our esteemed Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, so I can imagine how cool this must be for kids who have practicing their legato and staccato. Founded in 2002, the camp has really blossomed over the years, and continues to keep classical music alive and thriving in the hearts of our local youth. This year, I was lucky to teach in their extended Arts program, and with a goal of complimenting their music studies, I came up with a few projects and we called it Creative Expressions.
Being a writer at heart, I wanted to share some of the basics of story, and talk about how these elements stretch across many art forms. So for a little fun, we started out by getting theatrical. With a few glittery props, we acted out a small story, talked about the important elements, and then imagined how they could create their own stories and turn them into symbols. For a little help with their characters, we covered the basics of drawing facial proportions, and used the emotions they felt listening to music to guide their expressions. Throughout the week, we painted small story symbols with acrylics on watercolor paper, and listened to some great storytelling music like—Into The Woods, Peter and the Wolf, the English Chamber Orchestra, and various songs by The Piano Guys. I loved watching this project evolve. The kids invented some awesome stories. We had cruises that went awry, a bad guy thwarting a college degree, and a grand adventure to a restaurant named after a pineapple. All with happy endings, I might add. Little by little the pieces came together and we assembled them in theater-themed Tunnel Books so they could carry their stories home. Their next mission, if they choose to accept it, is to create a small musical piece to go with their story. Here's hoping some of them will get inspired over the Summer. For more about the Tunnel Book, you can see my previous post here.
Our final project brought together many parts as well, only this time, the students worked together to create one piece—a violin painting. We used a great public domain image that came from an old book on Italian violin makers. The angle and perspective was a little challenging, so we used the grid method. Instead of drawing a grid on a single canvas though, we enlarged the image and broke it down in to 4x4 pieces so we could use mini canvases. Each student then worked on a few squares each, and we put them together like a puzzle. I had hoped to do something more involved for the background, but for the sake of time, we chose to mix a blue that matched our camp T-shirts. Showing our Prelude Pride! This was a great exercise in teamwork, and thankfully we finished in time to display it at their concert. I have to admit, I got a little teary eyed when I finally heard the students perform their music. Amazing! These are super talented kids and I miss them already. So if any of you are reading this now, keep practicing, and hopefully I'll see you next year!