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What Happens at JAZZ CAMP

Camp Heebie Jeebies
What Happens at Camp    

Students begin the week by going through an audition during which they may play scales, sight read some music, and play a tune by memory or “by ear.”  The camp faculty then places all the students into Dixieland bands (8-10 people) and big bands (18-20 people).  Each student has the opportunity to play in both kinds of bands.  Students are also placed into theory classes based on their current knowledge and experience.  A typical day at jazz camp would include the following classes:


Dixieland band rehearsals: The faculty places all students into Dixieland-style bands according to ability.  At the 2003 camp, there were six Dixieland bands each having between 8-10 players.  These bands are all taught by capable instructors (many of our faculty have been or are currently music teachers).  They may play from arrangements or from lead lines with chord symbols.  Whichever method is chosen, the group will perform at least two numbers at the student concert at the end of the week.  Students are encouraged but not required to play improvised solos.  Vocal students who do not play an instrument meet with the vocal instructor during these rehearsals.

Improvisation: While the students are still in their Dixieland band rehearsal location, instructors work on improvisation focusing on melody lines and chord structures.  This segment of the rehearsal gives the students valuable practice on their soloing techniques in a small group setting.



Sectionals: During this class, the students get a chance to meet with all the other students who play the same instrument and have a group lesson with the faculty member who has the most expertise on that instrument.  Here the students can ask questions about their particular instrument and their own playing techniques, and they can also set up times for private lessons with that instructor.

Big Band Rehearsals: Because the Big Band Era followed the Dixieland Era so closely, Camp Heebie Jeebies has always included this popular style of jazz.  The Big Band style is more familiar than Dixieland is to a lot of the students who have jazz bands in their schools.  It gives them a chance to rehearse and perform tunes like “In The Mood” and many other great jazz tunes.  Students may have opportunities to play improvised solos in the big bands.  It is a challenge for them to play in a band with people they’ve never met before and put together some great music for the final concert in only five days!  Students who have not had as much experience with big band music are placed in the "Chop Monsters" band so they can work with veteran band teacher, Howard Miyata.  They learn basic big band rhythms while playing pop tunes that have been arranged in the big band style.



Noontime and Evening Performances: Every day during the lunch hour, students and/or faculty are encouraged to provide impromptu performances for the group (it doesn’t have to be trad jazz)..  The first day usually one or more of the faculty perform to let the students have a day to work something up.  By the end of the week, there are always more performers than there is time to perform!  Each evening at 8:00 the faculty jazz band performs for the students (and the general public).   This is an opportunity for the students to hear how traditional jazz is played by the professionals.  For many of them, it is their first experience listening to this kind of music.  The faculty band usually makes a point of performing some of the tunes that the students bands are working on.  As the week goes on, students who feel comfortable are asked to sit in with the faculty band.

Theory:   Students are divided into beginning, intermediate, and advanced classes.   One instructor takes all of the advanced students while the beginning and intermediate classes have up to four instructors in each class. We believe that students learn the material better if there are fewer students per instructor.  The topics in  theory classes  range all the way from learning the letter names of the notes up to  arranging a tune for a band to perform.  The theory class lasts for 45 minutes and is always the first thing in the morning while the minds are still fresh!

Recreation:       There is ample time for the students to unwind at Camp Heebie Jeebies.  Volleyball, paddling canoes, tossing frisbees, throwing horseshoes, and evening campfires are all part of each day.  The pristine environment and cold, clear waters at Lake Crescent are both relaxing and invigorating.  On warm days, the swimmers will jump in for a few laps.   Some students choose to practice their instruments during recreation time; others just like to “hang out” with new friends or relax at the waterfront.