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Derry Area students invited to summer band camp

| Tuesday, June 10, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Elementary and middle school students might be more focused on recreational pursuits than on refreshing lessons from the school year, but Derry Area School District is making it easier for kids to keep on track with their instrumental skills during the summer months.

On Thursday, school directors unanimously approved a new summer band camp for students entering grades 5-8. The camp will meet once a week for six weeks, culminating in a pizza party and concert in the outdoor amphitheater.

Music teachers Karen Kerin and Matthew Roble devised the summer band camp to help prevent their young musicians' skills from getting rusty while their instruments collect dust. Forty-five students had signed up last week.

“As they're just developing, we've come this far. And if they don't touch it all summer, we're going to be starting pretty far behind next year,” Kerin said. “The whole idea of this is to keep them playing at least once a week.”

The teachers are volunteering their time each Tuesday for six weeks, starting June 17, to run the program, which will be split into two 90-minute sessions.

“We both decided that for one, it's better for the kids, but in the long run it just helps the program as well,” Roble said.

A $20 materials fee per student will offset the cost of T-shirts, instrument parts and the pizza party after the final session.

Beginning musicians will meet from 1 to 2:30 p.m. More advanced band members will practice from 2:30 to 4 p.m.

“I'm encouraging students that were more advanced in their instrument to sign up for both sessions, so they can be helpful with the newer kids and then participate with the advanced,” Kerin said.

By spreading the camp out over six weeks rather than holding a single weeklong camp, teachers are hoping students will be encouraged to pick up their instruments in between camp sessions.

“If we did one week, one shot, that really doesn't serve the purpose in my mind as much as working on something, and then they have time in between to practice and rejoin next week and forge onward,” Kerin said. “It spaces it out over the summer to keep them playing. That was my main goal, to keep them playing throughout the summer.”

“That really helps to keep their development going, especially at that young age,” Roble said of the weekly sessions. “If they would take two or three months off for the summer, they would probably take two or three steps back, instead of at least staying at the same level by coming in these six sessions we're going to have.”

Both teachers will offer instruction at the beginner and advanced sessions, so one teacher can assist specific sections of the band while the other directs the ensemble.

“On (July) 22, we'll just keep both sessions together, and we're going to do a little pizza party after our 4 o'clock session,” Kerin said. “Then we'll go down to the beautiful amphitheater that we have here, and hopefully we'll have good weather and we'll do a little concert for the parents.”

Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913, or