Low-cost music camp begins in Fort Worden

PORT TOWNSEND – A paid music camp for kids in grades five through high school – beginners included – is coming soon to the Fort Worden State Park campus.

“I can’t wait to get the kids back to music,” said Daniel Ferland, one of 10 teachers about to deliver the first Music Camp for Youth Arts Education (YEA), which includes three sessions: June 28 to July 2, July 26. -30 and 16-20 August.

The suggested donation is $ 10 per day for teaching and practicing 9 a.m. to noon on weekdays, but no one will be turned down, Ferland said.

Information and registrations on YEAmusic.org.

Young musicians from all over the Northern Olympic Peninsula are welcome, he said.

All sessions will take place outdoors and at a social distance. Instruction will be available in a variety of formats, from chamber ensemble and jazz group to violin and drums.

“The level of the instructors is absolutely amazing,” said Ferland, who teaches music at Port Townsend High School.

Other teachers and coaches at YEA Music Camp include Matt McBride-Daline, originally from Port Townsend, now professor of music at Bowling Green University in Ohio; his wife, Pei-Hsuan Chung, who has a doctorate in piano performance; Gwen Franz of Port Townsend, whose doctorate. is on viola, and Mike McLeron, a seasoned music teacher who plays tuba in the Port Townsend Summer Band and double bass in the Port Townsend Symphony Orchestra.

Kristin Smith, a longtime music teacher at Port Townsend who performs in the Port Angeles and Port Townsend Symphony Orchestras, is also looking forward to playing with young musicians this summer at the Fort.

“Many of our instructors are volunteering their time to help start this year’s first round of camps,” noted Ferland.

Music lessons in county schools were suspended last year amid the pandemic. In the months that followed, Ferland noted, YEA Music, a nonprofit registered since 2018, provided Zoom lessons to help students play – and put them in touch with teachers for private lessons.

As for this summer’s camp, Ferland, Smith and the YEA team also want newbies, in the program that Ferland calls “very, very inclusive”.

“Beginners will have different instruments to try out,” he added.

Brandon Rittenour, a cellist who is graduating in music education from Walla Walla University, contacted Ferland earlier this year to become a YEA instructor. After learning about Rittenour’s experience as a coach and performer, Ferland hired him.

Rittenour says his cello studies and his participation in the orchestra led him to fall in love with music; he went on to coach cello and chamber music in summer music programs across the state.

He discovered his passion: supporting the development of young musicians.

Funding for YEA Music Camp comes from a Spark Joy grant provided by the Better Living through Giving circle, which is part of the Jefferson Community Foundation, Ferland noted. Port Townsend Music Boosters Club is also supporting the camp as Centrum partners with the organization to provide space at Fort Worden.

Initial funding to launch the YEA program in Jefferson County included support from the Kiwanis Club and Elks Lodge. These service groups funded activities as well as the purchase of instruments for young people who would not otherwise have access.

The YEA teaching model is based on the El Sistema music programs, which originated in South America in the 1970s. The method is based on the idea of ​​social change through music and the value of experiences rich and positive music for all children, whatever their background.

In 2019, Ferland was invited to be guest conductor of an El Sistema program with a youth orchestra in Costa Rica.

“I was blown away,” he said, by the children’s enthusiasm for making music together.

The pandemic has been particularly hard on local music programs, so the goal of the camps is to support young musicians and recruit new students, Ferland added.

Julie Russell, retired dean of Blue Heron Middle School, is the executive director of the YEA program – and a former music student.

“My music education and experiences played an important role in developing my confidence, persistence and social skills,” she said, adding that YEA Music has a long-term goal of building bands. youth in Jefferson County.

These could honor a youth jazz ensemble, a youth symphony and a youth choir.

YEAmusic.org has information on supporting these plans.


Jefferson County Senior Reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected].

About Edward Fries

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