August 24, 2023

What is a day at SWAN’s music camp like?

Morning Meeting

All the students start with our morning meeting. Here we talk about our goals and expectations for the day. Mr. Shoff asks the children questions to help everyone connect and learn more about each other. Questions like “If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be and why? or “What do you think is something adults don’t understand about being a kid? or “If you were in charge of the whole world for a day, what would you do?” While we get silly to serious answers, it’s always a fun, engaging way to start the day.

Then off to breakfast provided by the Lancaster REC center. After breakfast, we break down into three groups by grade, which rotate through the following classes: choir, garage band, and movement.

Choir Class

Mr. Shoff starts teaching the students proper body posture and vocal warm-ups using fun game-like techniques. As they progress over the weeks, you’ll hear him state “tic-tack-toe,” and students get their bodies into singing positions. Mr. Shoff introduces the performance songs by first listening to them, then looking at the lyrics while listening again, and discussing what the lyrics mean. He gradually teaches the verses and chorus; the children learn seven songs they will perform. Mr. Shoff also uses fun games like “Sarasponda” to help the children learn to match the pitch and keep their rhythm.

Garage Band Class

Mr. Pavelko utilizes the technology of Apple’s Garage Band application to teach music theory and composition. The students learn how to use the application, explore the digital instruments, and eventually work on composing their songs. Mr. Pavelko uses real instruments and the performance songs to reinforce the music theory and composition.

Movement Class

Mrs. Shannon begins by teaching body percussion, which helps students keep in the beat as they learn the dance movement of the songs they will perform. She also leads the students in rhythmic movement games to make them comfortable moving to the music.

Next comes lunch again provided by the Lancaster REC center. We rotate in three groups through lunch, recess, and Bible class. During the afternoon, they split into four groups and rotate through the following classes: solfege, “feelings,” choir, and songwriting.

Solfege Class

Mr. Allan uses the xylophone, boom whackers, and even the stairs in the hall to teach the students the scale. He, too, reinforces the songs for performance by working through the pieces using the scale.

“Feelings” Class

Ms. Amanda works with the students to identify their emotions and give them tools to help them regulate and respond in a healthy way. She provides various challenges like the card tower or the egg drop and then discusses ways for them to work through their feelings.

Choir/Music Appreciation Class

Mr. Shoff continues in his afternoon class, working with the students to ready them for performing. He also teaches about various musicians’ lives and works.

Songwriting Class

Ms. Lisa starts with a topic and has the students work as a whole group or individually to think and write their ideas about the subject. She asks various questions to help them tell a story and then works with them to put a beat to it. She, too, will discuss the lyrics of the performance songs and what they mean.

Throughout the day, students will receive a private lesson in either piano, drums, violin, viola, ukulele, guitar, or cello. It is a highlight for students as they receive one-on-one attention.

Overall the day is filled with music learning in a fun, engaging way, which develops students’ patience, perseverance, and discipline through practice, problem-solving skills, and teamwork. Performing the program multiple times for the Lancaster community is the goal and culmination of the student’s work.

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