Community Arts of Tecumseh takes young campers ‘round the world through music

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Teacher Joyce Lammers instructs students attending the CAT music camp class, titled Music Around the World, how to play the didgeridoo, an Austrailian instrument. Pictured (l-r) are: Lammers (kneeling), Maran Major, Fiona Howard, Kelsey Knape, and Allison Dice. Also in attendance were Michael Root and Alex Hart. Photo by Jim Lincoln.

Taking a class titled ‘Music Around the World” opened a door to many other subjects for the young students participating in the first music camp for second through fourth graders offered by Community Arts of Tecumseh (CAT) this week.

The main purpose for the music camp is for the seven through eight year old participants to have fun, but Mary Lou Olds, CAT executive director, explained that music is the foundation that provides the framework for exploring dance, rhythmic movement, and art as separate parts of a country’s culture. “Music is integral to the culture of every country,” Olds said. “It helps us understand other people on a very basic level that helps the students make a connection with the country and its heritage.”

The camp is instructed by four of CAT’s many staff members. Besides Olds, the other teachers for the weeklong course are Mandy Kruse, Lucy Thompson, and Joyce Lammers. The non-profit CAT organization is devoted to art on every level, with courses tailored to students of all ages.

Campers and teachers focused their attention on four very widely-separated countries: Ghana (a west African nation), Australia (the world’s largest island, and some say the smallest continent), India (second most populated nation and part of the subcontinent of Asia), and Mexico (part of North America), a diverse selection of the globe’s nations.

The students created their own instruments for some of the countries highlighted at the camp. They made a didgeridoo, for example. The instrument is one of the haunting sounds of the Australian aborigines’ symphonic repertory and sounds to some people like an unearthly tone that legend says has a healing effect. The students recreated with a good deal of realism, the eerie notes of the instrument with an unlikely golf bag accessory.

Through the creativity and experimentation of the camp staff, the teachers discovered that the tubes that keep golf clubs from rattling around in a golf bag can be fashioned into an instrument that closely approximates the sound of the Australian instrument. Those wishing to learn the technique of producing the proper low, visceral, sound of the aborigines’ hallmark horn are advised to consult with the graduates of the class.

The instrument that was chosen to represent a small portion of the Ghanaian panoply of that nation’s acoustic environment was chimes, which the campers fashioned from tin cans of various sizes, creating a melody dependent upon the size of the container.

As noted earlier, the campers were encouraged to not only listen and create music but to express themselves through interpretive movement and dance. Maracas are integral in many cultures in one form or another, and were employed to accentuate the Latin rhythms of Mexico, as were finger cymbals.

The theme of multiculturalism was maintained even during break times as campers were treated to snacks that related to some of the food staples of the countries being studied.

Rice is a grain with international popularity and rice cakes reminded the campers that much of the world’s population depends in part on rice as part of the their daily diet. Camp directors took pains to keep snacks healthy as well as geographically accurate and included dried fruit, popular everywhere, and fresh vegetables. Teachers also discussed the many ways that food may be prepared, including the many variations that are possible from a single food item.

Art was not overlooked in the lesson plans, as students were encouraged to use their imagination in decorating the instruments that they created.

The results of the class will be presented at a concert for parents and friends at the Smith art building, 804 N. Evans St., Tecumseh, on the last day of class this Friday, July 19, at 11 a.m. The end of the Music Around the World class is not the end of the classes offered by CAT through the summer, however. Classes are available in art, music, furniture refinishing, jewelry making and much more. For more information visit www.tecumseharts.org or call 423.0000.




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