Conservatory students to perfrom at Sharptop Arts Association on July 10
Each Saturday night conservatory students perform in a concert to showcase what they learned the previous week. On July 10 at 7 p.m. a brass band of both students and staff will perform at Sharptop Arts Association.
This is the 15th year in a row 22-year-old Tito Osibodu has spent her summer at Salvation Army’s Camp Grandview, and the 13th summer she’s spent at their Lyman C. Kimball Conservatory – a four-week program that brings kids from all over Georgia to study music and the arts in a Christian environment.
“It’s such a cool network,” said Osibodu, who was introduced to the Salvation Army in an after-school class in Marietta. “I’ve met so many people and have traveled to places like Turks and Calicos, Belize and California. I love coming here because I can leave everything in my life behind and just be here and build my relationship with God.”
Osibodu was one of 44 campers and 18 employees at the conservatory last week, and mid-afternoon on Wednesday she could be found instructing a handful of students on the euphonium (which looks like a tuba, only smaller).
In the next room another group practiced D-chords on the guitar; in the next piano lessons were underway; and in the next a line of students stomped and clapped in rhythm during their percussion lesson.
Outside, set to the backdrop of Sharptop Mountain and its surrounding woods, others quietly worked on visual art projects.
These kids – age 12 to 17 and mostly from urban and inner-city areas - came to Camp Grandview from the 25 Salvation Army churches (called Temple Corps) dotted across the state.
“We’ve got kids from all over,” said Daniel Weeks, the Salvation Army’s Georgia Divisional Music Director who started at the conservatory when he was 12, and who now serves as bandmaster each summer. “We’ve got some from Columbus, Savannah, Atlanta, Dalton, and for the time they are with us we can teach them about the power that music and art have to bring you closer to Jesus Christ.”
Kids are selected from their home Temple to attend the conservatory program. They choose one of three tracks of study during their visit –instrument, piano or creative arts. Campers also take classes in music theory and chorus, and have daily fellowship and Bible study. Electives include guitar, piano, percussion, visual art and others meant to broaden the scope of students’ education.
Trinity Palmer and Ashyln Lane are friends who have been coming to Camp Grandview since they were little girls. Palmer, 13, is in the conservatory’s creative arts track this year.
“I like it because I can learn to serve Jesus through dance and drama,” she said. “I meet a lot of new people and it’s fun.”
Lane, a wide-eyed brunette, plays the Eb alto horn in the conservatory band and like many conservatory students she said once she got involved in the program she didn’t want to stop.
“I love it,” she said, “and it kind of runs in the family. My grandparents were both Salvation Army officers and my mom worked here when she was a teenager.”
On one wall in the conservatory framed photos from every class since 1987 are displayed, with just the first class of 1986 missing. You can scan the pictures and watch kids grow-up year after year.
“Personally, I started the conservatory in 1988,” band director Weeks said, “and I’ve been here ever since. “That first year I just came for fellowship, but I came to love music and love teaching and I have a passion for working with young people.
In addition to regular classes and electives, Weeks said students receive private lessons to prepare for solo performances that are a part of the Saturday night concerts.
“Our weekly lessons build up to those concerts,” he said. “We want them to do those solos to that make them more confident and lean how to perform in front of people.”
The conservatory’s bands (students are split into two bands) also travel to other Temples on Sundays, and this year a few students from the Camp Grandview conservatory will perform for the public at Sharptop Arts Association in Jasper on July 10 at 7 p.m.
The show will be held at the Sharptop gallery at 68 D.B. Carroll Street. Admission is free, but the famous Salvation Army kettles will be out for donations. Refreshments will be available.
“It’s going to be a brass band at Sharptop, so we’ll have cornets, trombones, tuba, drums and maybe some vocals,” Weeks said. “We might do some drama, too, I’m not sure yet.”
Weeks said by the end of the four-week program campers have made new friends or reconnected with old ones – and that often times going home is bittersweet.
“We work with a lot of kids where poverty and broken homes are reality and at the end of summer a lot of them don’t want to go home,” he said. “When they leave the tears roll down their face, but we tell them Jesus will be with you when you go. Take him with you.”
To learn more about programs offered though Salvation Army Camp Grandview, including their summer camp program that was founded in 1948, visit www.salvationarmy-georgia.org. While you’re there you can sponsor a camper by following the “Donate Now” link.