When the middle school leg of the CU-Boulder Summer Music Academy kicks off on July 21, 11- and 12-year-olds won’t be the only students getting a sneak peek of what the future holds.
In addition to being led by College of Music faculty, the 120 middle school attendees will learn from undergraduate music education students. The 17 students have been involved in planning the program from the beginning, and they’ll be the ones who see it through until the last camper has gone home on Friday.
“It’s fun to see them coming up with new ideas and injecting new life into the program,” says Dr. Matt Dockendorf, Assistant Director of Bands and Co-Director of the Summer Music Academy. “They’re involved in planning and sectionals and master classes. They do most of the planning themselves and take ownership of it.”
The camp—which fills students’ days with listening labs, rehearsals and less traditional activities like Musical Jeopardy and a campus-wide Amazing Race competition—has an educational and social side not only for campers, but for their college counterparts as well.
“It gets the younger students working together with the older students, so they can see what the progression looks like from beginner to student teacher,” Dockendorf says. “And for the students who are getting ready to student teach, it gets them thinking about all the different facets of that position.”
For many, it serves to reinforce why they’re pursuing the music ed degree. “They’re really excited about it. They love interacting with the students. We can see it already in the prep,” Dockendorf adds.
The CU students will have some help from some well-known local conductors. Karen Gregg from Lyons Middle/Senior High School will lead the full band, while Patty Nelson from Jefferson County Schools will work with the orchestra. Thornton High School Band Director Sebastian Adams is head counselor.
Dockendorf, who is in his first year at CU and at the helm of the academy, says that involvement with the community is a big draw of the program. “It’s a way to gain outreach, and it’s a way to invite students to campus and show them what we have to offer from a musical standpoint.”
He says although college is years away for these middle school students, it’s important to connect with them early on. “Being the flagship institution, it’s part of our mission to be engaged with the community at large, in and out of state.
“There are many camps across the country, but if we can provide a good experience, these students can go back and say they had a great time at CU. And that will help us expand in the future.”