For 3 years I have been running a summer band program at Scarlett Middle School called the Scarlett Summer Music Academy. I started this to ensure that there would be a way for Scarlett kids to work on their playing skills close to home in the summer. The remaining summer music classes offered by the Ann Arbor Schools are located "up north" or "out west" at Clague, Forsythe or Tappan which is too far for some of the students to get to when their parents are working or don't have a car.
Students come for 3 hours each day for 3 weeks in July. While I am paid for this work, I use my stipend to hire about 10-12 high school and college musicians to work as coaches with the middle schoolers. Every participant gets an individual or small group lesson each day from one of these more advanced players and plays in a coached ensemble. We also learn band music together and play a concert at the end of the program. The more advanced students help the less experienced students make their way through the more challenging pieces and the coaches sit in playing alongside the students. We have a saying in our full band sessions which was borrowed from a good friend. "When you are feeling a little lost, just keep on swimming." This is a great life skill to develop.
Last year we added a hot dog cookout during the final week. Several of the students have limited family resources so we also provide a healthy snack from the A2 Farmers Market at the end of each day's work. This year I would like to add a small community performance either at Scarlett or at a local community center.
The Scarlett Music Academy provides a little taste of music camp to many students who can't afford to go to Interlochen or Blue Lake during the summer. It also gives advancing high school and college music students a chance to work on their teaching skills. My favorite thing is hiring Scarlett Middle School alumni and watching them coach the developing young musicians who will follow them at Huron.
Funded by Ann Arbor, MI (June 2014)