Thursday, July 8, 2010

International Music Camp: Middle School Art Class

International Music Camp (IMC) director Dr. Tim Wollenzien e-mailed me in the winter asking if I would like to come and teach the first ever IMC middle school art class. I was honored to be asked, although I wasn't full aware with how great IMC really was. In fact, to be honest, I did not know anything about this music camp or this peace garden at the US and Canadian border. Regardless, I was excited to accept.

With my North Dakota artist roster position and recommendation from fellow artist teacher Ali LaRock (who has taught at other IMC camps before) I was a good candidate to teach at a very renowned camp for practicing musicians and artists. If you were like me and do not know much about IMC, or camps in general (i only went to one camp for a school trip before i was 18) then it is fun to explore just what IMC has to offer budding musicians and artists.

International Music Camp invites groups of students (ages vary depending on time of year) to come stay at a camp and dedicate a portion of their summer to learning their craft. The student get up each day for breakfast and then into different areas of the camp to take lessons, practice one on one, take tests and recite. I heard every instrument under the sun during my week, and choir as well. The kids get breaks in the day to explore the ground, play games, enjoy the snack bar and then back to work again. Each night there is some event, movie, recital, band, dance, going on for the kids to take part in. I will tell you this, IMC is not a place to kick back and relax or goof around. IMC is serious business, you are their to learn and have while doing it. The kids where so focuses, energetic positive and genuinely loved what they were doing!

By the way, the food was great. Even for me, a vegetarian. I ate more salads that week than any week in my entire life. These weren't baby salads either, these were salads piled with peppers, carrots, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, spinach, olives, crutons and it was different each day. They had vegetarian options for each meal of the day.

I am overlooking (actually saving the best for last) one of the most important and impressive part of International Music Camp, the teachers. The instructors are masters of their craft from all over the country (and at times the world). The guest conductor for the band was from the South, and wrote many of the pieces the kids played. The pieces were great. All of the other instructors are jaw droppingly good at their instrument, or voice. At the faculty recital, I was honored to be among the list of performers.

Then, after one week of work the parents return to the camp for the mega recital. All the hard work condensed into one huge performance. My kids, who were amazing by the way (see photos below) put up an art show in the center of the gigantic recital space and we had a reception before the music started. The choir then performed, followed by two full bands. It was quite the show, and quite the camp.

If you want to see the drawings I created at IMC make sure to see that post (here).

Below are some of the photos from the first IMC middle school art week:

Olivia in front making a funny face. This was the seven great kids I was lucky enough to teach this week. They all worked hard. Some of them were distracted by the millions of caterpillars on the camp grounds, but overall we did tons and tons of projects.
You can see some of them here. We used watercolors, colored pencil, micron pens, and pencils.
This day our huge artist building was cold, so despite the nice weather outside, it was freezing in here. It was a good excuse to go do life drawing in the choir building. Which was a blast!
I used these white boards to optimal capacity. Here was a group quiz on light and shadows. They aced it. I would draw shapes and ask them where the light source was coming from, or what was wrong with the image. We learned a lot about shape and form, which helped us in other areas as well. Especially when we got to the perspective drawings.

Here are the peg boards we used to hang our best 6 works for the music camp to see. Over 2000 people came in to see our work before sitting down to listen to the music performances. We talked a lot about hanging work, and making sure we are showing our best products. The watercolors and the rainy weather made a few works more messy than originally intended, but abstract was one of our projects so it fit that theme nicely.

Thanks to IMC and my 7 students for making the beginning of my summer a real enjoyment. I had a great time, despite leaving my girlfriend and cats behind for a week. For those thinking about attending IMC as a student/teacher or volunteer I would highly recommend it.

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