August 3, 2008

Process is the Prize at Music Camp

By Laura Collins, The Herald-Sun, Durham, N.C.

Aug. 3--DURHAM -- A hundred voices filled the theater at Southern High School on Saturday night.

Durham Public Schools students and several other students from out of town presented their Finale Performance, which capped off a week of preparation.

The Arts Mission's Next Stage and Sing Out are week-long music workshops that teach elementary, middle and high school students songs and choreographed routines by professionals.

Saturday, the participants showed friends, family and community members all that they learned, which included more than 20 choreographed songs. Though audience members clapped and cheered during and after the various numbers, director and founder Annette Layman said the final show is not the most important aspect of the workshop.

"Perfection is not the goal," she said. "The product is not the goal. It's the process. What I love is that some of these kids are really developing friendships. Every year it gets better and better."

This was the sixth year for Sing Out and the fourth year for Next Stage, but the first year the two combined their performances. Layman said she plans to hold the camp again next year.

Layman, a graduate of Jordan High School, said it was her music teacher at Jordan High, Lisa McIver, who first got her interested in what was to become her career.

"She basically got me started in choreography," she said. "I really learned a lot from her about running camps and teaching kids."

At least one student can thank Layman for doing the same for piquing his interest in music.

"I love it. The camp got me started with music, so I keep coming back," said Robert Herring, 17.

Herring, a rising senior at Durham School of the Arts, attended the camp for the fourth year and said the best part is still the people.

"My favorite things is performing with a talented group of people," he said.

Toya Hall, 17, a rising senior at Jordan High School, agreed.

"It's great meeting new people and knowing that we're getting together for one big moment," she said.

During the week-long workshops, the students learned not only the songs and dances they performed, but also hip-hop, swing dance, improvisation, how to audition and how to pick solos, among other things.

First-year camp participant Nataja Powell, 15, said learning everything in such a short time was tiring but well worth it.

"I love to sing, and I love chorus. This was my first year, and I loved it," she said. "My favorite part was the show, and my favorite moment was when we did "Dance to the Music."


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