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A few weeks ago, I was blessed with the opportunity to attend Shenandoah Christian Music Camp, a week-long choral music camp held in Harrisonburg, Virginia. As many of you know, I love music, and I love to sing. I also love to learn, and music camp brought all of these elements together for me in a way that I have never experienced before. Those of you who know me well know that I’m not much of a “people person”. Therefore, you might be surprised when I say that my favorite part of music camp was…*drumroll*…the people. I made so many new friends with whom I hope to continue interacting for a lifetime. To be able to interact with a group of people passionate about pursuing excellence in music for the glory of God was priceless.
Last year I attended the Ohio branch of SCMC and loved it (the OH camp coincided perfectly with my job selling peaches for my grandparents in Holmes County, OH, last summer), but this year I decided to go to the original Virginia camp because I wanted to sing in Chamber Choir (something that the OH camp doesn’t offer – yet). Chamber Choir is an application-based choir for people who want to learn more music and spend more time in rehearsal (seven extra rehearsals!) than the average camper…haha. I did indeed get accepted into Chamber Choir in Virginia this year, which turned out to be one of the highlights of my time at camp. Every odd year, Chamber Choir learns a full program of music and goes on tour after music camp is over, but this year was an even year. That’s probably a good thing, considering everything I have going on this summer (*ahem* cookbook). We did learn 6 songs as opposed to the resident choirs’ 3, so we received our music a couple of months in advance and had the pitches and rhythms basically learned before we arrived. Mr. Brandon Mullet (resident choir master at Faith Builders in Guys Mills, PA) was the Chamber Choir director, and I immensely enjoyed singing under his direction. Always into learning new voice techniques, I loved how Mr. Mullet focused on the personal vocal aspects of singing in a choir in addition to standard corporate exercises. I will never look at consonants the same way again. Because we were a smaller group and spent so much time in rehearsal together, I got to know a lot of my fellow Chamber Choir peoples fairly well – and surprisingly quickly. Three of the girls I was staying with were also in Chamber Choir, which was very neat. Speaking of those girls…we had many hilarious late-night discussions that I will not soon forget. I miss them…*sniff*.
The schedule at music camp is nothing short of brutal. Breakfast was served on campus every morning at 7. I had conveniently brought overnight oatmeal packets along with me, so I usually got up around 7 and made it over to camp by 8 for chapel. I’m smart-lazy like that. Because I was in Chamber Choir, I only took one class and had two free class periods, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. My free morning hour was usually passed trying to keep up with the day-to-day social bloggy stuff on the pathetic wifi on campus (but just for clarification, I was so thankful to have any wifi at all!). Knowing I needed a break from blogging, I had scheduled posts to go out during that week; but I usually spent an hour a day catching up on emails, blog comments, and Facebook notifications so I wouldn’t be absolutely swamped when I got home. My afternoon free hour I spent doing homework, trying to rest a little, and/or socializing. The third class period found me in Lloyd Kauffman’s Sight Singing III class, which I really enjoyed. I finally know how to properly define intervals…(don’t laugh). Every day brought three Chamber Choir rehearsals. One was in the morning, one was in the afternoon, and one – that dreaded hour – followed Mass Choir rehearsal from 8-9pm. Don’t get me wrong: I loved Chamber Choir. But to sit through Mass Choir knowing that I had yet another hour of singing to do when I really just felt like curling up and going to sleep…it was stretching at times. The schedule was especially rough toward the end of the week when I starting losing my voice. I got pretty good at lip-synching. 😛 It’s so frustrating to be at music camp when you love singing but have no voice. I conserved as much as I could, and thankfully by Sunday I had most of my voice back and only had to lip-synch a note or two in our Chamber Choir music.
The alto section being goofy:
Mass exodus after Chamber Choir rehearsal…
Grace and Sarah reminded me so much of my sister Katelyn and me.
A lot of my regular blog readers are probably wondering how I fared with the food served at music camp. People, I ate what was there, and it was good! I was actually really impressed at the quality of food that the dear kitchen workers served us. I did my best to stay on the straight and narrow, but I did indulge here and there. I was ravenously hungry a lot of the week because a) I’m used to having an afternoon snack, and b) singing must burn a lot of calories. Overall, I felt good throughout the whole week except for the night we had pizza. Pizza and I don’t get along very well any more.
Sarah, one of our Saturday morning guests who came over early to practice at LaShonda’s house…
David lugging his double bass around just cracked me up.
The musician invasion…and donuts and apple juice who made it into the picture because of my 50mm prime lens that does not zoom out…
One of the interesting things about music camp was that I was constantly running into people who recognized me. It was neat, and it made for some interesting connections, but I still haven’t gotten used to it. 😛 I don’t think the introvert in me will ever get used to not being able to hide in the corner. I really did enjoy meeting all of you lovely people who stopped me and talked to me! If I wasn’t overly effusive, it’s because I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the idea that people read what I write….haha. You guys are the best.
Is that an Instagram filter? No, that would be Shavonn’s fingers adding an artistic flair to my picture.
The venerable Jeff Swanson…
Sarah tuning up…
Our After Party instrumentalists (Yuriy, Sarah, Twila, David)
I’m not quite sure what was going on here, but this picture amuses me.
Sergey and Vlad looking intense…
Some highlights of camp:
- being able to walk down the halls doing lip trills without anyone staring at me like I have two heads
- singing “When Jordan Hushed” in the gym
- making overtones with Sarah
- my lovely gal friends who always had my back 😉 You know who you are.
- meeting some of the people with whom I’ll be singing in a group this summer
- talking with people who know the composers and songs that I know
- comparing music with other campers
- John D. Martin’s chapel talks on “the new song”
- the instructors’ panel discussions
- going out for ice cream with friends Saturday night after dress rehearsal
- story time with Laura in “The Cube” as we waited for our turn to sing in the program (video below)
- hearing Yuriy tell his life story (with many interruptions by those listening)
- the private living room concert some of us got at 8am Saturday morning (video below)
- the Hallelujah Chorus at the After Party (video below)
- warming up with and laughing with my fellow sopranos during rehearsal
As you can see, there were a lot of highlights – and I didn’t even include them all! Thank you so much to all of you who contributed to SCMC 2016. God bless, and Soli Deo Gloria.
PS – if any of you are offended that I included a picture of you, just know that I did it because I think you’re awesome. 😛 And if you really want me to take it down, I will. Likewise, if you were not included, it’s not because you weren’t awesome but rather because I didn’t carry my camera around very much.
If you’re still reading, congratulations! You get to see some of my awful videography skills (compounded by the 50mm prime lens + auto focus. I apologize.). Here’s a video I pieced together from some of the few videos I took during camp:
And here you see my favorite moment from camp:
Just in case any of you are interested, Shenandoah Christmas Music Camp has a Facebook page and I’m hoping they’ll post some pictures from camp soon (like they have for previous years).
Some students are heading up a video project recording the songs from camp this year, and those videos will be made available on SCMC’s YouTube channel in a few months. Go subscribe so you don’t miss them!
You may also want to check out Yuriy Kravets’s channel here (he’s one of the driving forces behind the instrumental stuff you see in the videos). This song, “Christ Be in My Waking”, is one of my favorites from their concert posted on YouTube.