Summer music camp gets kids on their feet

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 24, 2009

NATCHEZ — From outside the door of the Children’s Prep Music Studio, what was going on inside sounded a lot like a barnyard party complete with cows, horses, dogs and even an alligator.

But inside, the children participating in the studio’s summer workshop were getting an in-depth lesson on proper pitch while singing using animal puppets and sounds as the medium.

Each student, fitted with the animal puppet of their choice, got the chance to sing their animal sound back to teacher Kathleen Mackey King to demonstrate their understanding of pitch.

Email newsletter signup

But the puppet show was just one exercise the 5-, 6-, and 7-year-old students were enjoying. They also patted their heads and clapped their hands to learn the difference between high notes and low notes and circled the room like a train, stopping when the music ended, to learn to listen carefully.

The students have also had hands-on time with instruments. They learned about the violin on Monday and the trumpet on Tuesday.

King, director of the Children’s Prep Music Studio, said the days of teaching children music while they are seated in a chair have passed. Now, students have to be active while learning, even about music, King said.

“Children have to become engaged to learn anything,” King said. “Putting them on the move when they learn about music, helps them to capture the skill better.

“It keeps them interested and focused on what they are doing.”

And what King is doing must be working because the 12-member class was eager to participate in each activity King had lined up for the 45-minute class. And King said that wasn’t always the case in her summer courses.

“This group is exceptional and have progressed exceptionally for just their second day of class,” she said. “The students are focused and several of them have previously taken lessons from me so that helps them lead the rest of the class and helps the students work together well.”

And while they are working together well, the student’s favorite activities are varied.

Christin Smith, 7, liked playing with the puppets — she was a tucan — best on Tuesday because singing is one of her favorite activities.

“It helps my pitch so I can be a better singer,” she said. “I sing all the time.”

For others, getting to play the instruments was the best.

Griffin Hootsell, 6, said he liked learning how to play the trumpet and experimenting with the mouthpiece.

“It vibrates on my lips and kind of tickles,” he said.

Walker Hosford, 6, was also a big fan of playing the trumpet, but unlike many of his classmates, he isn’t a first time trumpeter.

“I have one at home that I taught myself to play,” he said.

Caitlyn Walker, 6, thought the trumpet was nice, but there was one instrument that was even better — the violin.

“It makes beautiful sounds,” she said.

Other students are looking forward to playing instruments like the xylophone as the week progresses. And one student has her sights set even higher.

“I want to play the flute the most,” Grace Smith, 6, said. “My mama played the flute, and she was the bestest there was and I want to be like her.”