Young musicians flock to FHSU campus for High Plains Music Camp

07/17/12 mcw

HAYS, Kan. -- The 65th annual High Plains Music Camp kicked off its first day of classes and activities with a new name and a third emphasis for its young musicians.

The camp was originally known as the High Plains Band Camp. After the addition of two concentrations, the name was changed to High Plains Music camp to cover the spectrum of musical opportunities presented.

"The camp used to be just band," said camp counselor and FHSU graduate Krista Connelly. "Then they added orchestra a few years back. Now, there's choir."

The camp has also seen an increase in enrollment.

"We have over 300 students this year, almost 350," said Connelly. "The camp has been steadily growing for the past few years."

Students from all over the state are attending. Some are returning campers, while others are experiencing the camp for the first time.

Elizabeth Tobald, a college freshman from Glasco, has attended for four years. The opportunity to work with different people each year keeps Tobald coming back.

"I enjoy new experiences and new music," said Tobald. "I love meeting new people and working with different instructors."

In her four years, Tobald, who plays oboe and viola, says working with the string quartet during her first year was an experience that sticks out in her mind.

"I really liked the people I worked with, and we got to work with a famous violinist," she said.

First-year attendee Dakota Smith, a bassoonist and junior from Chapman, said he decided to attend because he "was told about how amazing it was." He is particularly enjoying his class focused on bass skills.

"We're playing 'Come Together' by Paul McCartney. It's fun," he said.

Fellow first-year camper Joseph Balderrama, a junior from Junction City, came because he was awarded a scholarship. Balderrama plays baritone saxophone. He said he is enjoying interacting with the saxophone instructor.

Brenna Johnson, a percussionist and junior from Baldwin City, is in her third year. She is particularly enjoying the Drum-line Fundamentals class. The class "teaches me so much and gives me ideas for our own drumline," said Johnson. She said she is most looking forward to the faculty concerts because they serve as examples of how good a musician's skills can be. Johnson says the information she has obtained at the High Plains Music Camp is invaluable.

"I have learned more at camp in three weeks than in three years in band. It's an incredible experience," said Johnson.

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