Monday, August 2, 2010

Jazzed About Summer

by Maureen Hathaway

Not all band geeks put away their instruments over summer vacation. The Federal Way Symphony's fifth annual Summer Music Camp (held July 13-17 this year at Federal Way High School) was right up some students' jazz alley. This camp offered a fun week of jazz training for music students in grades 5-12, and an opportunity to learn with professional musicians from the Federal Way Symphony.

Instructors Todd Zimberg, Lonnie Mardis and Symphony Maestro A. Brian Davenport provided innovative techniques which focused on jazz improvisation, along with music theory and history. For one intensive week, 21 students began to develop improvisational skills, along with the lifelong self-confidence and self-esteem that come hand-in-hand with acquiring that kind of knowledge. The main focus of the camp was to learn improvised jazz where musicians spontaneously create an intricate form of theme and variation. Jazz has its own language, its own grammar and its own vocabulary. There’s no right or wrong, some choices are just better than others. The young musicians were exposed to sight reading and passionate performers such as Benny Goodman, and Frank Sinatra. In addition, Maestro Davenport introduced Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Liszt, all of whom were celebrated for their ability to improvise.

Two-thirds of the attendees were supported with scholarships from the City of Federal Way, the Kiwanis Club, the Soroptimists, Linda and Jack Butcher, and patrons of the Symphony Annual Auction.

The week-long camp culminated in a standing room only Saturday morning concert for family and friends. For more information on the Federal Way Symphony Summer Camp and upcoming concerts, go to

Maureen Hathaway is a member of the Federal Way Arts Commission.

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