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What factors in attending a music camp

GUEST,mg 25 Nov 09 - 09:04 PM
Joe Offer 25 Nov 09 - 09:26 PM
MartinRyan 26 Nov 09 - 02:29 AM
GUEST,Russ 26 Nov 09 - 01:19 PM
GUEST,mg 26 Nov 09 - 08:12 PM
Leadfingers 26 Nov 09 - 09:08 PM
maeve 26 Nov 09 - 10:41 PM
Effsee 26 Nov 09 - 11:11 PM
Suegorgeous 27 Nov 09 - 06:22 AM
GUEST,BanjoRay 27 Nov 09 - 12:10 PM
Joe Offer 27 Nov 09 - 06:09 PM
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Subject: BS: What factors in attending a music camp
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 09:04 PM

I think this is an important thing to discuss because many have had attendance problems lately. The last one I went to I said I will be honest.

I know that for some people it is the social factor. For some it is the act of creating music. For some it is the chance to try stuff out for an audience. For some it is a heart to heart connection through music. I think all are very valid points of view...especially if a camp is starting up from scratch. The organizers should just state their preferences and other can go or not.

There are a couple of camps coming up for me. I have limited time, transportation and money, so I can't go to everything I would like. If I were nearer to them, my preferences would be much looser...I could go for a day, or go shopping if the music weren't so great etc. But I am fairly far from most.

Here are my preferences and I think they overlap pretty well with those who no longer attend certain camps but I could be wrong.

1. I want to hear great music, especially if the camp had it in the past. If it is a new camp, I am more flexible. I hate to see the good music go away though. I also want to participate somewhat in the chorus, in the background, whatever. I do not have to have a single "turn" all weekend if truly great groups of singers are there..and I do like the group stuff..small groups especially of 5 to 10 people.

2. I hate the flourescent lights that blast your brain with toxic waves of whatever. They almost drown out the music for me. There were some good attempts made to reduce them at the last camp..and frankly it is as easy as pie to not have them..jjust have a few local people bring lamps.

3. This is only concerning the evening informal sessions and any other informal sessions. What people do in workshops etc. is not of concern to me. I can go shopping or hiking if I don't like ;the setup. But I want to hear the best music possible sung by people with the prettiest voices. That is inverse proportion, in my experience, to the number of blue books and the distance between singers...and some places either start out with these huge circles, which I can understand, but as people leave bring the circle closer in...but the music is not going to be great usually...or what Ihate is when an informal group starts, other people want tohear them and stand in the back rows, which is where I think we belong if we are not the original group, and then there is this "nice committee" that wants to make sure everyone gets a turn and what was a great collection of people gets more and more diluted and we are back to taking turns in this endless circle. It seems to me that you shoudl start out with a designated size of the circle and then have second or third rows behind. If it is a formal song circle you can zig zag and not leave people out, but you have moreof a condensed sound. If it is an informal group, I do not see why people should break into the circle, or insist that others move their chairs to make room for new members, therefore breaking upthe original group. THis happened to me again and again recently. I am totally fine sitting in the back row. No one ever has to make room for me and I don't expect to have a turn in a group I am essentially joining, breaking into or whatever. I think what happens is the music gets more and more diluted and the people who originally formed the informal group get split up by several people in between them. Others can sing in the back along with the original group...that is what I expect myself to do....

Well, it is a huge factor to me what happens in the informal session and at the evening session.

Other factors would be cost, ease of getting there, access to noncamp food as I need a special diet, people I want to see, etc.

But people are not attending like before. It is not because of age...the people attending are as old as those not attending. I think it is because a number of factors, associated with blue bookedness, lead to people deciding it is just not worth it.... based on those criteria. Of course, if you want to just see old friends, walk in the woods, etc...then it will still be OK..

I know it sounds snobby but I think the time for honesty is almost past us. I think there are plenty of workshops and song circles at camps that can include the blue books and the taking turns religiously etc...but the days of the grand free for alls may be over and done. I don't know.

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Subject: RE: What factors in attending a music camp
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Nov 09 - 09:26 PM

I'm on the committee for Camp New Harmony, the 6-day annual song-and-dance gathering of the San Francisco Folk Music Club. For almost 25 years, the camp was located at the adjoining Camp Campbell and Camp Harmon, in the redwoods near Santa Cruz. The spectacular setting added to the camp experience, but eventually the camps got too rugged for our aging clientele.
So, we moved last year to a Jewish camp, Camp Newman, on a former military base near Santa Rosa (north instead of south of San Francisco). We drew a lot more people (300) than we had been drawing to the old camp, but there was something missing - the tradition, the wonderful redwoods, the intimate feeling of the old camp, and Debby McClatchy's cooking.
We had a good camp last year, but part of the reason for that was the novelty of the new location. People came to camp who hadn't been there for years. Now we have to make the new camp into a tradition, and bring back as many of the good aspects of the old camp as we can.
The most important ingredient of a music camp, is the people who attend. If they have the feeling that they're customers, then making a good camp is going to be a tough row to hoe. If they they have a community feeling that THEY are the camp, it will be a good camp.
(hope you don't mind that I moved this to the music section, Mary)

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Subject: RE: What factors in attending a music camp
From: MartinRyan
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 02:29 AM

Hi Joe

Without diverting the thread, can you give a quick outline of the concept of a "music camp" - scale, activities, locations, a few links etc? i'm not familiar with the idea - and am curious, as ever.


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Subject: RE: What factors in attending a music camp
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 01:19 PM


I am in the states, but for what it is worth.....

I have not attended and am not familiar with any music camp where the "Informal" sessions are/were as highly structured as you would prefer. The aspects that you find annoying are pretty much the norm in the events I have attended.

Of course, my experience is limited.

If me and my musical friends want to limit the size of a group, we place ourselves in a location where it is physically impossible for the group to grow. A walled tent, an alcove, a hallway, etc. the more open the space that a session is in the more moths get attracted to the flames.

My advice is that if you want something done in a certain way, do it yourself. that approach has always worked for me.

Good luck in your search.

Russ (permanent GUEST)

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Subject: RE: What factors in attending a music camp
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 08:12 PM

sounds good..buty i don't want to exclude people...but there are times that the best music must flourish..and i would never tell anyone they couldn't even sing in the background, chorus etc. mg

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Subject: RE: What factors in attending a music camp
From: Leadfingers
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 09:08 PM

Another Dichotomy twixt UK and USA ! We (in UK) have a lot of Festivals , but NOT many 'camps' . UK festivals have a lot of Workshops where Vocal , Instrumental or Dance skills can be taught/learnt , but these are ancilliary to seeing a variety of good singers / musicians perform .
I dont know of any 'camps' as such other than places like Halsway Manor that 'do' weekends of instruction .

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Subject: RE: What factors in attending a music camp
From: maeve
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 10:41 PM

Some examples of American music camps:

These happen to be two camps I myself have attended and enjoyed. There are several other excellent music camps.

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Subject: RE: What factors in attending a music camp
From: Effsee
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 11:11 PM

In UK there's always...

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Subject: RE: What factors in attending a music camp
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 06:22 AM

What are "blue books"? :0

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Subject: RE: What factors in attending a music camp
From: GUEST,BanjoRay
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 12:10 PM

We have an Old Time camp at Sacrewell Farm, near Peterborough for a week in August (12th-ish to the 21st-ish). This really is a camp - a bunch of musicians camping in a field. Sessions, workshops etc are VERY informal and purely impromptu. People cater for themselves, and musically do what they want. I've been going for 11 years and wouldn't miss it for the world - I've rushed back from the States to make sure I don't miss it. It's totally relaxed musical and social fun, with a session round the campfire every evening.
We get between 50 and 80 folk, most members of Foaotmad but not all.
Roll on the next one....

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Subject: RE: What factors in attending a music camp
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 06:09 PM

There are music camps put on as a commercial enterprise, like Lark in the Morning here in California, and the Pinewoods Camp in Massachusetts that Maeve linked to. The commercial camps usually hire a faculty of accomplished musicians to teach techniques and such. I haven't been to one, but I hear the Lark in the Morning is wonderful. I've also heard of a fiddle camp near Puget Sound in Washington.

The two camps I attend regularly are Camp New Harmony the annual, 6-day New Year's gathering of the San Francisco Folk Music Club; and the FSGW Getaway the 3-day October gathering in Maryland of the Folklore Society of Greater Washington (DC). Mary Garvey can tell us more about the camps near Seattle, Rainy Camp and Sunny Camp (one of which is no longer, I think).

The camps are usually in a rustic setting. Meals and lodging are provided, and the cost is somewhere around $75 a day. The DC and San Francisco camps have hour-long "workshops" during the day. Somebody volunteers to lead the workshop, which is more-or-less a singaround on a given topic. It seems like the leader doesn't do much, but it usually seems that it's the leader who sets the tone and is responsible for the success or failure of the workshop. The DC and San Francisco camps have concerts in the evening, where people perform a song or two for the camp. Lately, the DC concert has been wonderful and and the SF concert abysmal. We're trying to reinvigorate the San Francisco camp's concert, and we haven't quite found the formula. Part of the SF camp's concert problem, is that there are other activities going on at the same time - a dance and an unaccompanied singaround. The DC camp is oriented more toward unaccompanied singing, and the SF camp toward instrumental sessions and accompanied singing. But instruments are neither required nor prohibited at either camp.

That should give you at least somewhat of an idea of US folk music camps, Martin. You should give the Getaway a try some year. I think you'd enjoy it. The San Francisco camp is also open to everybody.


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