Thursday, May 17, 2012

10 reasons why I love going to music camp

Having lunch at Pho Oregon
before going to camp
Mom with her lunch

During the last weekend in April, I went to women's music camp (Northwest Women's Music Celebration [NWMC]) at Camp Collins for the fifth time. Last year I was sad to miss it because it was on Easter weekend, as as much as it makes me appreciate my children more to take a break from them occasionally, I would not skip Easter! This year's theme was "Around the World with Motherlode" (the band that sponsors the camp). As always, I had a blast and took some musical risks! And here are ten of the reasons I love NWMC:
1. Getting to spend time with my mom and our friend Lois
We met Lois for lunch at Pho Oregon, a highly authentic Vietnamese restaurant on 82nd. Then we headed out to Gresham and Camp Collins. Once there we registered and chose a cabin.

Waiting for the teacher concert Friday night

Deciding which classes to take

At the final closing on Sunday afternoon
 2. Singing with incredibly talented women who harmonize and improvise!

Song circle with Motherlode on Friday afternoon
The amazingly talented Crystal Reeves,
who was my inspiration for learning the mandolin!
She can improvise on fiddle or mandolin to any song.
Not just at song circles, but at other random times women break into song...such as when the sound went out during Friday night's concert. While we were waiting for the dedicated sound crew to get it up and running again, someone started us on an impromptu "Sounds of Silence" (and we knew all the verses)!!

Marie of Motherlode leading a song
 3. Silliness, fun, and laughing so much that my face hurt after awhile!

On Friday night, the teachers put on a concert to kick off the weekend. To go along with the theme of "Around the World," we were ready to take off in flight!

Flight attendant Ellen, one of the camp coordinators,
demonstrating the oxygen mask

Captain Nan of Motherlode

Flight crew backstage

In-flight snacks too!

The captains singing
 Last time we attended camp (two years ago), Kathleen of Motherlode was undergoing chemo for cancer, so it was wonderful to see her back in full musical (and silly) mode!

4. Taking musical risks

Intermediate Irish Mandolin class performing
(I'm on far right)
 Throughout the weekend, everywhere around us, women were taking huge musical risks. I took an intermediate Irish mandolin class with my mandolin idol, Crystal Reeves, and even thought I felt like I could barely keep up, it was fun! I attended a beginning fiddle class with Kat Bula, a talented young woman who teaches fiddle and guitar in Bellingham. I had not picked up my violin for 30 years, but I could still play the basics. I need to get it tuned up, but listening to all those talented fiddlers inspired me.

Nova Devonie demonstrates that anyone can play the accordion!
That's Brogan, who founded the Portland Ukulele Festival.
 Mom and Lois took beginning accordion!

Most inspiring was the Shy Singers class, who not only performed as a group during the student concert on Saturday, but then each one of them performed a solo...for the first time in their lives.

5. Creative movement

This year they had a delightful, talented, and enthusiastic Zumba teacher at camp, Cary Cramer, who taught a few classes over the weekend. Here she is demonstrating advanced Zumba, and some of the brave teachers are trying to follow along!
They also had an African drumming instructor (in the red bandana on the right), and a marimba instructor (the woman on the right, below, in the black and green jacket).

Lois playing in the marimba ensemble
 6. Multiple generations and backgrounds

Many of these women have been attending camps for many years straight. Motherlode was born out of the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, and many women travel from Washington because of that link. (Someday I will have to try that out, too, but it's a week-long commitment!)

Women who are professional or accomplished musicians learn side by side with beginners. Many people learn a new instrument they've never tried before.

It's a wonderful atmosphere of acceptance and encouragement, with diversity of age and sexual orientation. (As a straight woman in my 40s with children, I was probably in the minority.) Each year I attend with my mom, we get lots of attention for attending together! But we're not the only family units there--besides partners and mothers/daughters, there are sisters, sisters-in-law, and grandmothers/granddaughters too.

7. To make backup band, add water

I decided to sing a song at the student concert on Saturday night, because for some bizarre reason I'm compelled to sing in front of groups. It's not even that I enjoy it that much (too nervous!), but more likely because I know it's good for me. It stretches me as a human being. Is that weird or what? So I decided to recruit some people to back me up. I asked my friend Linda (see #8, Parody, below), and then we recruited Kat Bula (fiddle teacher), Adrianne Gunn (singer and guitarist, and kick-ass sound person), and Nan Collie (from Motherlode) to play the harmonica. I sang "Jerusalem" by Steve Earle (sung by one of my favorites, Joan Baez). I can't begin to describe how cool it was for me to sing with incredibly talented back-up singers and musicians whom I greatly admire--with an accordion and fiddle bridge in the song. Too bad it passed so quickly (and the video didn't work) that I barely remember it!!!

Here's Joan's version--I encourage you to listen to the song--it's beautiful!

8. Parody!

Parody was everywhere! Shelley Heesacker and Linda Reisser are the long-time parody champs at camp, and two years ago they did a phenomenal Sarah Palin parody that still has me hooting every time I watch it. Since then, I've joined a bluegrass jamming group with my banjo-playing pastor, and Linda's in the group, so it's been great fun getting to know her.

Shelley and Linda introducing their parody classes
with an English Gilbert & Sullivan parody
 Mom and I went to their parody writing class on Saturday morning, where we each wrote a verse of a parody Linda had started about foods around the world (to the tune of "O Susanna").

We missed their parody performance class later that day (since I wanted to take Crystal's Irish mandolin class), but their performance later that night was quite the hit!

In fact, the weekend was full of parodies. This was a hilarious skit about the "It's a Small World" ride at Disney going cuckoo!!

Little farm girl (?) went wonky and had to be taken out...

And replaced by the newer, hipper version!

This woman has written a parody for every health ailment she's had--
including one about the blood thinner Coumadin!

We also had Amelia Earhart visit as
one of the hosts of the concert!

9. Beauty of the forest

I was so busy taking classes and making music that I didn't really get a chance to soak up the forest more, which is a shame! But I certainly did appreciate the smell. That clean, peaty forest smell has got to be one of my all-time favorite aromas. As a child, I adored summer camp for the same reasons. Camp Colton was my favorite place on earth, and I attended and was counselor for outdoor school at Camp Yamhill too. And Camp Collins, too, is such a beautiful spot for making music.

Motherlode around the world

Final closing on Sunday--
look at those trees!
 10. Doing it all over again

Most people who attend NWMC vow to return. The final circle is full of "stand in the circle if you came with your family," "...if you're a senior," "...if you're a first-time camper," "...if you performed..." and so on. It's a fitting way to end the weekend and start planning for next year. Then there are goodbyes, lots of smiles and hugs, and see you laters! And that's when I vow to practice my mandolin, guitar, and fiddle more in the coming year!!

Motherlode and camp coordinators Linda and Ellen

With my creative friend Linda
 See you again next year, music camp!

1 comment:

  1. Here, Here! I love all those reasons for Music Camp too....but I would add sleeping in cabins, hearing grown women snore and having the time of their lives.