Archive for September, 2012

2012 AMS Camp Report Part C

September 26, 2012

2012 AMS Camp Report Part C – (If you’ve just joined me, start at part A!)

On top of all of that we did a few other activities:

Kayaking. Let’s hear it for kind weather! Having cancelled last year due to disastrously stormy conditions, it was a thrill to take a walk and a paddle in the sunshine.  I always enjoy watching the bigger kids help organise the smaller ones – life jackets, paddles, canoes that are totally un-liftable for little people – as well as watching Miss Lindi get towed around / raced / generally terrorised by her students. Mr Guy set up some super-duper fish-eye lens camera doover-lacky that he could later turn into time lapse photography (all on his PHONE!) and then serenaded our gang on various instruments while they splashed about on Narrabeen Lake.

Games. Ladies and gentlemen, please give it up for Mr Jake. The King of the kids led staff and students (half the camp at a time) on a walk down to the oval where they ran themselves ragged with an assortment of outdoorsy games. A good time, a shower & a change of clothing was had by all…

Spooky Story Compositions: We sent half the camp to Mr Guy for a demo of a collection of spooky instruments. My personal fave was the ‘waterphone’, first used in the movie JAWS. We watched gobsmacked as Guy actually poured a bottle of water into the instrument… whoa! Our kids were grouped in little teams and sent off to write their own spooky story, and appoint a narrator. They then came back and chose instruments to underscore their narrative. Creative story +odd instruments = some very scary stories. Glad it was broad daylight. (Miss Sandi had the shivers!)

Dress-up Night!  It’s a long standing tradition – we pick a letter and dress up as anything starting with…. ‘B’. As ever, I was amazed at the creativity/simplicity/complexity of costuming! We had everything from Boxes to Beethoven, a B flat to a Battery. The staff were collectively ‘Bob the Builder’, Caleb was a Banana (nice photo on the AMS Facebook page) and Mr Guy and his 2 kids were a ‘Barbershop trio’, complete with an acapella 3 part song. Highlights were ‘The Beatles’ and ‘The Beliebers’ – both with impressive items to go with their costumes.

Sing-A-Long: Why is it that some of the most wonderful moments on camp are the un-timetabled ones? I guess the fact that Oscar & Caleb rarely stopped playing guitar & drums the entire time we were at camp made for an easy sing-a-long environment. (I swear Oscar sleeps with a guitar, or a piano accordion or something else strapped to his chest each night!) Mr Jake gave new life to pop songs by alternating between bass and (amplified!) mandolin and POLYPHONIC students were quick to jump on the piano (or anything else they could find) to join in the on-the-spot accompaniment of whatever happened to be the song of the second. Memorable moments were ‘Call me maybe’ with quite a few takers at the microphone. We all enjoyed singing a raucous version of ‘Hey Soul Sister’ , a lovely rendition of ‘I’m Yours’ and a heart warming re-run (live band this time) of the dress-up night ‘Beliebers’ singing ‘Baby’ – with lots of hand-made hearts held high…..sigh. These are the bits we can’t show in the concert, but we treasure none-the-less.

A Magic Show: Having moved our dress-up night to the first night of camp, I booked a friend & professional magician Stu Robinson for a show on the 2nd night. After dinner we sent everyone off to clean their teeth and come back in their PJs. We headed downstairs for a very entertaining end to our busy day. Stu got some of our students involved as volunteers…. very impressive and so much fun!

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2012 AMS Camp Report Part B

September 26, 2012

Today I have enjoyed organising camp photos and writing blog posts in my Pyjamas. Love this camp recovery stuff….

This year our 3 rotation groups were ‘Hands’, ‘Tubes’, and ‘Looping’.
‘Hands’ is music appreciation on a grandiose scale: choreographed white gloves with black lights (Mr Adam described it as the ‘elegant’ rotation). Mr Adam & I were expertly assisted by old hands (ha-ha) POLYPHONIC students Alana & Patricia. This year our 2 pieces of music were (edited versions of) the C# Minor Rachmaninov Prelude for piano and the A Minor Grieg Piano Concerto. The goal is to really get to know the piece – and have enough musical where-with-all to move your hands or make them totally disappear at exactly the right time (far harder than one would think!) It was very validating indeed to hear bunches of kids absent- mindedly singing the themes of these pieces in the lunch line, or while walking back to cabins. Some of the older ones were overheard saying ‘I’m going to get that on itunes – it’s such a cool piece’…. Mission accomplished!

‘Tubes’: Our fabulous PVC orchestra is all about rhythm. Know exactly what is going on and then play your note at the right time. Tricky! POLYPHONIC student Oscar Gross arranged 2 pieces for us (challenging indeed) and we enjoyed aiming at vaguely recognisable versions of ‘Halleluiah’ and ‘Somebody that I used to know’. Miss Lindi & Miss Chiara were in charge here, but i must mention this was only achieved with lots of help from Miss Anna and POLYPHONIC students Courtney C & Oscar.

‘Looping’ was a hit this year: The looping station was alternately manned by Miss Elisha and Mr Jake, with extra know-how and enthusiasm from POLYPHONIC students Ruby & Remi. Using a looping pedal with a microphone & amp (thanks to Remi for equipment loan!) each group experimented by singing a bass line and then layering vocal tracks over (and over and over). Mr Jake & Remi did a great demo of this at the concert – and also played a few of the recordings from the groups. Very clever and very funny! (Personal favourite lines: Elysse – ‘Gas Alert’ and Alana – ‘I’m allergic to nuts’ yelled over the top of some otherwise very respectable vocal loops.)

And nothing whatsoever to do with our rotation groups, a word about the food on camp. ‘Spectacular ‘says it all really, we were very impressed. The centre catered for us perfectly right down to Miss Elisha’s gluten free lamingtons in a box with a sticker marked ‘for the nice teacher only’. OK – And that would make the rest of us…?

AMS Camp 2012

September 26, 2012

This year my camp report will be done in stages. I simply cannot write what I want to say in one sitting. Today’s instalment (written last night) is a little look into what we sang in choir….

Today was a day of unpacking & re-organising all our equipment from AMS camp. Amps, black lights, gloves, tubes, percussion & digital pianos all needed to go back to their regular abodes.

With the help of my 11 year old daughter (aka ‘The Most Organised Person I Know’) we got through it quickly – then tidied, washed and even grocery shopped! With all of that out of the way, I’ve been looking through some of the photos we took on camp. There will be many more – I am yet to collect a few hundred from the other staff – but just looking through my own make me smile the biggest smile. What gorgeous kids we have! What a privilege to spend a weekend away with them. I am feeling every bit the proud teacher as I write.

We were not unaware of this on camp. Each time the staff sat down to a meal the conversation quickly turned to ‘How gorgeous so & so is’, or ‘How unbelievably clever’ somebody was. This year our age range was 7 – 17 (!!!) but it flowed as smoothly as silk. The big kids take pride in helping and teaching the younger ones. (Note to self – MUST write a separate POLYPHONIC post this week…) The ones in the middle are besotted with each other and aspire to being the big kids one day. As a staff we revel in watching the dynamics and all the little negotiations that take place over a 48 hour period. Again – what a privilege.

So what did we do? Heaps! There was Choir, Groups, Kayaking, Games, Composition workshops, A Spectacular Magic Show, our ‘B’ dress-up night, sing-a-longs… and lots of great food.

Choir was an absolute delight. I have always loved the idea of singing a Bach Cantata in solfege but have been put off by the reality of only having 48 hours (3 or 4 rehearsals) on camp. Bravery prevailed and I arranged my favourite: ‘Sleepers Awake’ (BWV 140 – youtube it!) and stuck closely to the original vocal parts (can’t beat Bach, really). We ran through it in a term 3 staff meeting and decided to go for it, even if it didn’t make the concert.

We mostly teach camp choir items by ear as AMS kids pick things up SO quickly and can sing it back to you on one hearing. This time, we went for ‘sight singing’ – with copies of the Bach strewn all over the floor. I will admit to being worried after the first rehearsal (its just so LONG with so many notes!) but amazingly, the kids had it in 2 parts from memory by the 2nd day. On our last day when we had a few minutes I casually asked 76 kids ‘what should we sing?’ and was blown away when ‘The Bach – The Bach’ came back at me. It made the concert and it was beautiful.

Our 2nd solfege was a 3 part rousing ‘Irish-ish’ arrangement of an Enya song – ‘The River Sings’. This was almost done after our first rehearsal – the kids just swallowed it whole.

‘It’s in the Rain’ was also arranged in 3 parts – and a fabulous fourth part was created by Mr Jake and the bass boys – with some seriously low notes at key points.

Our grand finale was Coldplay’s ‘Paradise’. My expectations were high as I knew our campers would all know and (hopefully) love this one. We sang through it once, added some harmonies, sang it again – at which point Miss Lindi looked at me and said ‘Well they basically taught themselves that one!’

Not bad – 48 hours, a few rehearsals, 4 performable pieces.

Cue our fantastic live band – what a thrill – and we sounded pretty good at the concert!