Carroll County Times

McDaniel College music camp encourages young musicians to play right into college

After about an hour of practicing a series of intricate music compositions, a group of boys lingered behind the other campers to practice a piece they'll perform at a wrap-up talent show Friday.

The piece, for low brass instruments, was written by Jordan Moore, 17, who is in his final year at the music camp. The campers joked around on stage while performing the piece.

"It's a Pokemon melody," said Jordan, a student at Wilde Lake High School in Columbia.

During his six years attending McDaniel Music Camp, Jordan has used the rehearsals and music classes to grow as both a composer and musician, something newbie Brandon Hall hopes he will also get out of the experience.

As a percussionist, Brandon said he often only plays in half of the music in his school's music program or at other music camps. But, Brandon said, this summer he has gotten little down time during each music selection.

"The other music camp was getting too easy for me and my mom found this one," Brandon said.

At McDaniel Music Camp, students run the gamut of skill levels, from more advanced musicians to students who just recently picked up their first instruments.

"There's a lot of stuff we're doing that I should suggest to my director at school," said Brandon, who lives in Woodbine.

During the week-long camp, middle and high school students are exposed to music theory, conducting, world music and new instruments, while learning pieces for a concert to be performed at the end of the week.

Two summers ago, Jordan started working on an original piece during theory class, which is held daily during the week-long camp session. Jordan showed the piece to camp Band Director Jay Bocook, who immediately said he wanted to use the piece for camp the following year.

Throughout the school year, Jordan and Bocook perfected the piece, titled "The Vast Horizon," through tons of email correspondence. Last summer, the piece was taught to all the campers.

Jordan -- who plays euphonium, a baritone brass instrument resembling a tuba -- said the summer camp is one of the few times he is exposed to theory. He said while he learns theory through his private teacher, he does not receive it at his high school.

"Learning theory helps you to understand music and interpret it," Jordan said.

Bocook, who has been directing the music camp almost since its inception 29 years ago, said the program helps train students to be professional musicians, something most middle and high school programs do not have the arts and music funding to provide.

"We teach artistic temperament and respect for music," Bocook said.

During the week, Bocook said he tries to expose students to a wide variety of musical selections including the classics, some contemporary pieces and even some he composed.

"We do more popular songs from 'Les Miserables' because [the campers] have seen the movie or their parents have seen it on Broadway," Bocook said.

He said campers typically become leaders in their school's music programs the following year, becoming "better players and people."

But, the administration at McDaniel hopes the camp pushes students to continue music years past grade school and high school, into college and beyond.

This year, McDaniel is offering students who apply and are accepted to McDaniel College the opportunity to receive annual college scholarships worth $10,000 each through participating in one of their three music camps, said Margaret Boudreaux, chair of the music department at the college.

Starting in fall 2015, McDaniel hopes to award at least 10 scholarships to a pool of students who attended the camp, auditioned for the college's music program or a community music program, Boudreaux said.

"So many times students stop playing music in college because they don't think they will have time for it," Boudreaux said. "But studies show students who play music in college have better time management."

To be eligible for the scholarship, students do not have to pursue a major in college's music department, Boudreaux said.