summer music camps

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Post on 12-Feb-2017




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    I have a very energetic, wonderful, beautiful three year old boy named Zak. He seems to have one goal every day and that goal is to remove all fences and boundaries from his life. With the advent of the beautiful spring weather we are having, his latest daily battle is to get out of the house through the front door. Every day he wakes up with this as his mission: to spend as much time in our front yard as possible, with or without the knowledge of his parents. The back yard holds little interest for him because it is fenced. He can only get so far. In the front yard no fence! Endless possibilities!

    As parents who are concerned for his safety we installed a special lock on the top of our door which kept him inside for awhile; until he devised an ingenious method of unlocking it, which is too complicated to describe in this article. It has been frustrating to keep him inside the house his need to be in the front yard seems primal in some way. Last night, I had to grab something out of the front yard and I invited Zak out with me. As I looked around the very small, cramped space that is our front yard and driveway, I had to wonder what was so appealing about it. But as soon as Zak came out the door he was running and dancing and shrieking with

    Summer Music CampsSummer Camps are a perfect avenue for kids (and adults!) to explore music in a setting free from fences.


    delight, Dad, look at the moon! And the stars! I looked up, and I have to say it was quite beautiful. And I would not have even noticed it without the help of my son, who was seeing the moon as if for the first time. I thought of T.S. Eliots beautiful words, We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

    This is the essence of the indescribable joy of what I do for a living.

    I teach music to kids.

    Most people I know have experienced the wonder of being swept away by music they love. This, coupled with an endless and irrefutable mountain of scientific research linking music studies to brain development, has prompted many to seek music lessons for themselves and especially for their children.

    The question is, if music is as compelling and inspirational as it is, why do so many become disenfranchised from learning music once they start taking lessons? Why has practicing the piano come to be some kind of chore, something akin to taking out the garbage? Answering these questions has been my obsession for the last 15 years. And my journey to finding the answers to these questions has taken me places I never dreamed of going. And it has forced me to completely change almost everything I thought was true about how and why music should be taught to kids.

    What I have learned is beyond the scope of one article. But here are 5 starting points to get you thinking:

    1. Music is fun by nature. It actually takes work to make it boring.2. Music is communal by nature. It is meant to be shared with others.3. Excellence is the natural result of passion. In the words of Plutarch The mind is not a vessel to be filled,

    but a fire to be kindled.4. Music should be performed often. It is best learned by doing5. Every student has incalculable personal worth. And every student has something uniquely theirs that only

    they can give to the world.

    Summer Camps are a perfect avenue for kids (and adults!) to explore music in a setting free from fences. They provide the opportunity for students to try new things in the company of other budding musicians as part of a shared, social experience. They provide a break from normal routines and infuse a sense of magic and excitement into the learning process. Summer camps can light a fire inside young people that change their attitudes about music for the long term.

    As a musician I have discovered nothing more gratifying than watching a students face light up the first time they know they have created something beautiful. It is the beauty of 1000 evening skies. It is the beginning of a fenceless, boundless life filled with new discoveries.


    Justin Nielsen is the founder and artistic director of Creative Music Academy in Eagle, ID. For more information about summer camps and other programs, please visit


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