Weather Forecast


Getting the band back together: Group restarts annual summer music camp for students

The Bemidji State University MusiCamp advisory board has been meeting to organize this summer’s camp. From left are Jeff Sands, Ashley Sands, Betty Masoner, Jina Block, Matthew Marsolek, Beth Holzhueter, TJ Chapman and Del Lyren. The 2014 MusiCamp is scheduled for July 20-26. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI — It was the spring of 1948, and some notable music instructors at Bemidji State Teachers College realized a dream they had for band students, a weeklong summer camp for aspiring musicians and band members.

They brought in Frank Simon from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, who served as assistant conductor of the John Philip Sousa Band as guest conductor. Ninety-seven high school and college students attended that first camp, which was held in August at the BSTC Band Clinic and Conference on the shores of Lake Bemidji.

Band historian and archivist Betty Masoner, who has participated in every camp since its inception, can attest to the growth of the camp from those 97 students to more than 1,300 in subsequent years.

And now this year, a group of former Bemidji State University graduates have formed a committee to restart that summer music camp, which fell victim to financial cuts and restructuring at BSU a few years back.

Headed up by BSU graduate and BSU Pep Band director, Jeff Sands, who is a music teacher in the Bemidji school system, the advisory board is made up of BSU graduates and others who are music educators. The advisory board members are Ashley Sands, chair: Del Lyren, BSU liaison; Kevin Kloindl, Hutchinson band director; Beth Holzhueter, Menahga band director; Katie Hahn, Thief River Falls band director; TJ Chapman, community band director and professor at the University of Minnesota, Crookston; Amy Burmeister, University of Arizona trumpet performance major and doctoral candidate; Gini Block, St. Louis Park band director and Matt Marsolek, camp director, who teaches in Minneapolis.

They plan to hold the 64th Bemidji MusiCamp July 20-26 for any middle or high school students who have completed at least a year of band. The plan calls for at least two levels of ability and experience in each band, beginner and advanced. The days will be full with instructions in music theory, conducting, master classes, practice sessions along with various recreational activities in the evening. The attendees will live in a BSU dorm for the week. Registration forms will be posted online starting Nov. 15 and can be accessed through Bemidji or visit the music department at BSU, located in Bangsberg Fine and Performing Arts Complex.

Early bird registrations will continue until June 1, with a tuition fee of $100 and $150 for room and board for a total of $250 for the week. After June 1, tuition costs $125. The goal this year is 150 students from beginner to advanced band members. Bemidji and area residents may stay at home, which lowers the cost to just tuition.

“I attended music camp as a counselor for three years while I attended BSU as a music ed major,” Sands said. “One of the things that is different about this new camp is that it is run by public school band directors. I think that those connections that we will be able to have with other band directors will help us to make the music camp bigger and better than ever.”

The advisory committee received seed money in the form of a grant from Region 2 Arts Council and have set up a scholarship drive on the Internet to help send students to the camp.

Anyone who wishes to contribute toward the goal of $5,000 in scholarships for underprivileged students, can visit Bemidji MusiCamp 2014 on Facebook. The group has created the fund drive through Indiegogo and there’s a video from trumpet player Kiku Collins explaining the scholarship process, which has raised $1,930 to date. The site will be up until Nov.8.

In addition to Facebook, for more information, you can also visit