SMC hosts annual choir camp this week
Published 8:00 am Tuesday, July 7, 2015
A group of area students returned to class on Monday, filing into one of the classrooms of Southwestern Michigan College’s Dale A. Lyons Building for a morning full of vocal lessons.
On the agenda for the week — instruction of rhythm, melody and the other essential components that comprise any beautiful piece of choir music.
The Dowagiac Dogwood Fine Arts Festival is hosting its eighth annual Summer Youth Choral Camp this week at the Dowagiac college.
The weeklong choir camp brings together around 25 high school and middle school students from Dowagiac, Edwardsburg, Niles, Brandywine and other local school districts, who practice vocal pieces from a variety of different genres to enhance their existing musical education, according to camp Director Dave Carew.
“It’s a labor of love,” Carew said about the camp. “It’s my favorite time of the summer.”
The camp was started by Carew, the director of choral activities at the college, in order to help enhance the skills of local choir students, and to give them the opportunity to practice during the long stretch between semesters at school. Since its inception, more than 300 students have attended the camp, many of which have attended multiple years, Carew said.
“Every summer, these students impress me with their focus and willingness to work hard,” he said. “They’re very sharp kids.”
Assisting Carew with teaching duties are Tami Brush, the choir director with Watervliet Public Schools, and Marcelo Cacares, with SMC. Typically, students work on six to seven songs every camp, which range from classical foreign pieces, to up-tempo pieces to popular show tunes, Carew said.
“I like to teach different musical elements through these pieces,” he said.
In addition to the mechanical elements of song, Carew hopes that the camp imparts a deeper love and appreciation for music within the students, he said. It’s also an opportunity for them to meet and befriend fellow choir students from
Much of the camp’s activities are funded from concerts hosted by the Dogwood Chorale, a choir comprised of local teachers and community members, including Carew. The chamber ensemble sings at multiple functions every year, most recently during the opening and closing events of the spring’s Dogwood Festival.
“There’s a lot of great singers in the area,” Carew said. “I feel blessed to be able to sing on stage with a lot of them.”
The camp concludes with a free concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Dale A. Lyons Building theater. The students will be joined by members of the Dogwood Chorale during the hour-long performance.