For one week every August, adult amateur musicians of all ages and abilities gather to learn, play, sing and perform at Lakefield College School, about 150 km northeast of Toronto.
When Kathy Tyers first attended eight years ago, she was singing in a community choir and wanted to improve her musical skills.
“Being at camp gives me a chance to be creative and exposes me to different styles of music – it has literally changed my life,” she says. “I picked up the flute again after not playing for many years, and I now play in a band and sing in four choirs. Every night of my week at home now is filled with music. It keeps my mind sharp and I’ve never met an unhappy singer!”
Making Music for 38 Years
Lake Field Music camp is going into its 38th year, offering a full accommodations retreat for musicians from across Canada and beyond. The diverse course selection includes choirs, ensembles and workshops in classical, jazz and world music. Andrew Wolf, President, says the supportive environment frees participants to try a variety of genres, ensembles, and even new instruments.
Trumpet performer and teacher Garry Page said that even though he plays music professionally, he had never sung in a choir before and embraced the camp experience by joining ‘Choir for All,’ which is open to everyone. Participants also have the opportunity to perform in the nightly concerts.
Judith Noldin has attended the camp four times and at home, sings in choirs and plays in the New Horizons Bands.
“I enjoy being surrounded by music all day long. Music is a fun, collaborative, social activity,” she says. “Last summer I took six classes a day including choir, big band, and rhythm, which was really good for me because we clapped and sang complex beats which really helped me improve my voice and instrument playing.”
First timer Caitlin Kelly plays piano and took a variety of classes, including song writing.
“I was writing like crazy,” she says. “I was so inspired by the creative environment there with so many different styles, that I woke up in the middle of night and started composing – I wrote 10 songs while I was at camp!”
The faculty are all experienced professionals, working as conductors, soloists, teachers, studio musicians, and as members of bands and choirs, most returning year after year because of the intensity of the experience.
Singer and conductor Gillian Stecyk says the passion and enthusiasm of the students brings her back.
“In my jazz vocal class, I suggest ways that students can deepen their knowledge and approach to a jazz standard, while they learn basics such as how to count in, improvise on the spot and have a dialogue with the other instruments.”
Guitarist Sam Gleason started out as a participant when he was 16 years old, then pursued musical studies and has now been on the faculty for five years.
“I love interacting with great musicians, both students and teachers, in a variety of genres,” he says. “I enjoy hearing different music played well and bringing soloist ideas on the guitar to my students who range from beginner to advanced. Everyone usually goes away with new techniques they can incorporate into their playing.”
Garry Page says that pursuing a love of music is a journey for many people, and that the word “amateur” doesn’t mean second rate, rather, it means that you’re playing music for the love of it.
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