The sounds of children chanting and drumming were heard Wednesday morning at the MusiKamp for first-sixth graders at the Bemidji First Lutheran Church.
The children sat around a campfire (logs surrounding a fan which caused the material strips to flare up and resemble flames), played authentic African drums loaned by Gregg Anderson of Bemidji and listened to their guest clinician Andy Miller as he set the rhythm and sang the lyrics of a Swahili song.
Miller, a 2006 alumnus of Bemidji State University with a degree in music performance, is the director of choral activities at Bismarck State College in Bismarck, N.D. Miller completed his master's in music and choral conducting at Mankato State University and, shortly thereafter, learned of a position at Bismarck State. Miller's student teaching was completed with Chris Fettig at Bemidji High School.
Miller went on to say, "My mentor at BSU, Brad Logan, gave me a really strong recommendation and he knew a faculty member there. They needed someone because they were in a pinch, they heard good words about me and they hired me."
Miller, along with another BSU music graduate, Karissa Korbel, Sarah Carlson, director of music at First Lutheran and Jennifer Paquette from Concordia College, are the basic instructors for this music workshop for children from as far away as Laporte and as near as the Church of St. Philip down the street.
Some of the campers were eager to talk about their experience at the camp. Lauryn Petrich and her twin sister Vanessa, from Bagley, are back for a second time. They both agreed that it is fun, that Andy is a very nice person.
Elizabeth Hensman from near Laporte said that she learned about the camp because someone emailed the information to her.
"It's fun because I like to sing and play music," she said.
Elizabeth plays flute and recorder.
Another camper, Mason Karvakko, is back for his second year and said he brought his little brother Gus with him this year because the camp is fun.
But the camp is not just fun and games for there is serious music being taught by guests.
"On our first day, Monday, Jon Romer was here to talk to the children about Native American flutes," said Carlson. "On Tuesday, I showed the children the organ and about the pipes, Jenn played the Celtic harp and piano, and Karissa sang opera for the kids. Wednesday was the dance workshop, and Kate Schulze was the clinic leader, she taught the children about movement, how to dance with moods and also how to dance with objects. On Thursday, Eric Haugen played the cello and Mark Christensen sang a little bass, and Friday, we will have a drum circle with Dave Quamme"
The final concert for the week will be held at noon today in the sanctuary of First Lutheran Church, Ninth Street and Beltrami Avenue with original compositions by the campers. Some will play their instruments and, of course, sing. This concert is free and open to the public.