"We just started those songs yesterday, and you already know them so very well," teacher
They hear musical stories.
They make rainsticks and ocean drums.
They try their hand at instruments.
They listen to brass and woodwind quintets, a trombone quartet, a piano trio.
They not only learn more about music but make friends in a setting tailored to their needs.
This camp is geared to children on the autism spectrum.
Each summer, the
During the festival, EMF and the
Three years ago, the two nonprofit organizations added a weeklong EMF Discovery camp for those with autism spectrum disorder.
Every aspect has been planned by
"Our kids can't function in a typical music camp," says her mother,
"If he acts like himself, a lot of times kids look at him because he's a little high-strung,"
Autism spectrum disorder describes a range of complex disorders of brain development, including Asperger's syndrome on the high-functioning end of the spectrum.
People on the autism spectrum can exhibit difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive patterns of behavior.
Their numbers are growing.
The EMF Discovery camp began as a mother's wish for her child and others like him.
"There were a lot of camps for children with special needs, but none geared specifically to Asperger's,"
A music teacher who served on EMF's education committee, Elkins asked whether EMF could fill the gap. With help from a grant and the
"For kids with Asperger's, music can give them an outlet to express themselves when they don't have the words for it," Elkins says. "My son is very verbal, but he expresses how he feels through songs. If he's happy, he plays happy songs. If he's not feeling great, he will play more mournful or sad songs."
EMF did not receive a grant to support the camp this year. So it charged
Some people with autism spectrum disorder excel in music, as well as visual skills, math and art.
That musical interest shows in the 13 children who gather at the
"You can do anything you want with music," Andrew says.
"They have started researching artists and telling me about people I don't even know about,"
Teachers post the schedule on the wall, minus the times in case an activity runs long.
Greeting song. Circle time. Snack. EMF student performers. Story time. African drumming. Musical concepts: rhythm and dynamics. Musical craft. Circle time.
"Kids with autism often have a tremendous amount of anxiety," McEntire says. "You are trying to feed information to them ahead of time. That helps to alleviate some of that anxiety."
If the noise or activity level becomes too much, the children can take brief refuge in a "sensory break room."
Here, they can crawl inside a tent, read a book or run their fingers through a container of kinetic sand until ready to rejoin the group.
On this second day, children have begun to shed their shells.
Blumenfeld sings them into a circle on the floor. "Let's make a circle, circle, circle." She leads a song that greets each child, while teaching about dynamics or volume.
"Blaire, should we do a piano (soft) dynamic or a forte (loud) dynamic?" she asks.
"Forte," Blaire replies.
After snack time, a woodwind quintet of EMF students arrives to perform.
"Which one is the hardest to learn to play?" asks
"They are all hard for different reasons, but they are all very learnable," replies
Lennon Ferguson, who likes to read about composers, asks who wrote the music. Teachers write down their names for him.
"Today, I listened to some circus music by this person," Lennon says, pointing to the name of German composer Paul Hindemith.
Teachers are impressed.
"Most rising second-graders don't even know what a composer is, let alone specific composers," Chenail says.
After a quiet story about a violin, Chenail leads them in African drumming.
Later, Chenail pulls out her violin. Each child gets to try his or her hand on a few notes.
"I did it!"
On the last day of camp, parents and grandparents come to watch children perform what they have learned.
They shoot video on phones and tablets as children sing and tap out rhythms on resonator bars and African drums.
"I was looking at all the kids and how they followed along," she says. "I was amazed that they were able to do that in front of an audience."
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