santa cruz bagpipe mornings

There is something so natural about living together, something so alienating about how we usually live in bubbles. Don’t get me wrong: I like having My House and My Quiet Time and Space to Spread Out and Think. But summer camps give us a special kind of shared experience.

Like, say, being woken up in the morning by bagpipe music from students marching around your cabin with their teacher, sometimes playing a tune they specifically know you hate, just for you, and standing there for five minutes until you poke your head out.

And how, once you do, you find that you want to follow them into the breakfast hall, joining the others in a kind of procession where you vaguely think, hmm, that Pied Piper story makes more sense now, it’s really not that farfetched, at least until you reach the dining hall and the coffee there makes good on its promise of morning lucidity.

This is the kind of community that springs up every summer at the Community Music School of Santa Cruz’s Celtic Teen Camp.

I was teaching there last week – a combination of viola technique and getting to be Resident Philosopher, a title I am trying to not let go to my head. When it comes to the kind of community fostered there by director Shelley Phillips and her staff (intrinsic motivation! communication across differences! cross-generational connections! excellence of multiple kinds! taking a long view of what music means over the course of a lifetime!), I simply cannot say enough.

But I’m going to try to. I’ll be blogging in the coming week or two about the experience, especially focusing on the kinds of experiences that students co-created with each other and adults.

Expect musings on the way pursuing music in “third spaces” (neither school nor home) helps build skills that transfer to all different parts of our lives.

Expect things you can reproduce in your classroom, with at least some sketches as to how one might justify these activities in edu-speak to administrators and grant funders.

Above all, expect to want to join this amazing group in California next summer.

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