Foundation for the Arts and Community Enrichment music camps

Foundation for the Arts and Community Enrichment music camps Musicians from strings camps have an opportunity to perform on The Centrum stage.[/caption]

In their fourth year, the strings camps offered by Cypress Creek Foundation for the Arts and Community Enrichment on Cypresswood Drive give aspiring junior high students an opportunity to improve orchestral skills while having fun.

Led by experienced junior high and high school Klein orchestra instructors, the camps teach technique and how to play music with a chance to perform on FACE’s stage The Centrum, which is is host to the Houston Symphony as well as other musical acts.

“These kids had never done that before,” said Nanci Decker, FACE executive director and founder of the camps. “It blew their mind.”

Decker started the camp five years ago after being unable to find one for her own daughter, a cellist entering the sixth grade. She approached the Klein High School orchestra director at the time, Keith Markuson, about starting a camp for junior high students.

“He found an orchestra instructor, and we planned for a weeklong, half-day camp, specifically designed for kids who had been through the Klein fifth grade [orchestra] programs,” Decker said. “Six hundred to 700 kids go through the program every year.”

The first year the sixth-grade camp started, 38 students signed up.

“The following year, all of the junior high directors knew which kids had gone through the camp,” Decker said. “By Friday [of camp], it was mind-boggling how wonderful they were.”

Decker said at the end of the second year of the sixth-grade camp, parents had approached her to suggest that a seventh- and eighth-grade camp be offered. FACE patterned the seventh- and eighth-grade camp after the sixth-grade camp, and previous sixth-graders who had attended the camp returned to attend the seventh- and eighth-grade camp.

Both camps are a full week. The sixth-grade camp is from 9 a.m. to noon. The junior high camp is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Lunch is served, and electives are offered, such as fiddling, vibrato and improvisation.

“[The children] are more confident because they’ve spent that week at the camp,” Decker said. “The parents are like, ‘Wow, I didn’t know my kids could do that.’”

She said the camps were designed to fulfill a need she noticed when her daughter was in the orchestra program in sixth grade.

“Our goal was to create something that enhanced musical education and experience something fun to help them understand that playing a musical instrument can be fun as well as educational,” Decker said.

Decker said FACE made every effort to make the camps affordable so that families coud have easier access to
the camps.

“The only reason we can have this camp is because Klein has such an incredibly strong music program and a desire to improve their orchestra students,” Decker said. “We joke about Texas being all about football. But there are music programs, too, especially at Klein.”