Hard work pays off at Summer Music School

  • <b>SCHOOLS | </b>By Sarah Koenig For The Weekly Herald
  • Tuesday, July 24, 2012 6:37pm

Janie Ummel has been singing since kindergarten, and she’s passionate about music. That’s one reason the recent Meadowdale High School graduate has been coming to the Edmonds School District’s Summer Music School since fourth grade.

“I write music, sing all the time,” said Ummel, who was in choir at Meadowdale. She heads to California this summer to audition for the television show “The Voice,” after her video audition made the cut. “People call me ‘jPod’ – I’m like an iPod that never stops.”

Summer Music School ran June 27 to July 13 this year at Meadowdale. More than 150 students from elementary to high school took part – the highest number in the camp’s two decades, said Jennifer Schillen, camp director.

Students took music classes that ranged from musical theater to xylophone, marched in the Fourth of July parade and gave a culminating concert the night of July 12.

The pace is fast, and younger students learn a lot in a short time, Schillen said.

This was the second year at camp for Fran Herr, seventh-grader at College Place Middle School. Last year, when she marched in the Fourth of July parade with her trumpet, she struggled to keep up with “Hang on Sloopy,” the 1960s pop song.

“It was really hard,” Herr said. But by the time camp was over, she saw real progress.

The morning of July 12, in the bright sun of the high school parking lot, band students rehearsing for that night’s concert were urged to keep tempo with songs from the musical “Grease.” They tapped their feet, brows bent in concentration.

“It’s a good experience because it takes you out of your comfort zone,” said clarinet player Mikala Kim, a seventh-grader at Madrona School. “You end up discovering what you like about music.”

This year, for the first time, a Korean drumming class was offered, thanks to the donation of 17 Korean drums from the Korean American Historical Society. Other classes included composition, small ensembles, steel drum, harp, guitar and piano – on top of band, orchestra, jazz band and choir.

For many students, one period of band or orchestra during the school day feels too short, said Schillen, the camp director.

“They’ll say, ‘Can I stay?’” she said. “(Camp) is from 8 (a.m.) to 1 (p.m.) – all the brain wires are fired up.”

The camp forges new friendships, she added.

“Since we all share a love for music, it’s easier to make friends,” seventh-grader Kim said.

High school students also mentor the younger students, something Ummel has enjoyed. It’s her last year at camp, but she hopes to have a future as a school music teacher.

“It means so much that kids are so into it,” she said.

Hear them

Watch video of Summer Music School student musicians perform in the Fourth of July parade at http://tinyurl.com/SMSparade.