News Column

Grant Allows Van Buren Junior High Band Camp

June 20, 2014

By Rachel Rodemann, Times Record, Fort Smith, Ark.



June 20--Close to 200 Van Buren junior high school students experienced band camp for the very first time this week at Butterfield Trail Middle School in Van Buren.

As a thank you for the community support that made the camp possible, campers will perform a community concert at 7 p.m. tonight on the Butterfield Trail Middle School lawn, performing songs from the movie "Frozen," songs by the band Journey and a number of surprise performances.

"In February, we wrote a grant through the Van Buren Education Foundation that allows us to offer this camp," said Brad Reeves, middle school band director. The $10 fee gave students a full week of instruction, sheet music for several songs, breakfast and lunch each day, and a customized band camp T-shirt and lanyard.

"We believe in The Whole Child, which has five tenants that a child can't learn until they are healthy, safe, engaged, challenged and supported," continued Reeves. "During the summer, the learning goes out the window, and we want to be able to build upon their knowledge ... and give the kids a safe place to be for a week during the summer that they may not have."

While students worked in sectionals much like at school, they also were given an opportunity to learn new activities from the 24 senior high school band students who volunteered to help encourage the young musicians.

Sam Steinsiek, a 10th-grade tuba player who is juggling varsity football training and six weeks of senior high band camp this summer, said nothing could dissuade him from spending one of his few free weeks with the students.

"I would have loved to have this when I was their age," Sam grinned, "and I'm grateful to be here and be able to help them succeed. ... With these younger kids, you get to make an impact on someone's life."

As the band practiced all together for the first time Monday morning, a series of low groans rumbled from the more nervous players, and Kevin Hume, Ozark band director, stopped conducting to address the issue.

Hume told the students that though mistakes are OK, playing with fear is not. Encouraging the students to play loudly, proudly and loudly again, he started again.

"The teachers are all really awesome," smiled Brandon Shelton, a seventh-grade tuba player. "If you mess up, they still encourage you. They don't get on you or get mad at you."

As the drummers drummed and pipers piped, the noise began resembling a song.

"This is not the 'Let It Go' you know," said Hume, laughing.

"This isn't the movie with the square snowman, that makes no sense but he's there anyway," he added to a wave of giggles around the room. "So please, read your music."

The band started again and an ever more recognizable tune and visions of square snowmen spread smiles around the room.

"We want to keep it poppy for the concert," explained Reeves, watching. "They're playing music from 'Frozen,' music by Journey. We wanted to keep it light and keep it fun."

"Band is amazing," said Judah Honey, an eighth-grade French horn player. "We have amazing teachers like Mr. Reeves here, and you have a lot of opportunities to do cool stuff and play cool stuff."

___

(c)2014 Times Record (Fort Smith, Ark.)

Visit Times Record (Fort Smith, Ark.) at www.swtimes.com

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Source: Times Record (Fort Smith, AR)


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