Kristin Smith, Mike McLeron and Gwen Franz, posing with her dog Hugo, are among the teachers who will host a pay-what-you-can music camp outdoors at Fort Worden State Park this summer. The first session starts June 28. Signup is available at YEAmusic.org. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

Kristin Smith, Mike McLeron and Gwen Franz, posing with her dog Hugo, are among the teachers who will host a pay-what-you-can music camp outdoors at Fort Worden State Park this summer. The first session starts June 28. Signup is available at YEAmusic.org. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

Low-cost music camp set to begin at Fort Worden

All of Peninsula’s young musicians welcome to attend

PORT TOWNSEND — A pay-what-you-can music camp for youngsters in fifth grade on up through high school — beginners included — will arrive soon on the campus at Fort Worden State Park.

“I’m looking forward to getting kids back into music,” said Daniel Ferland, one of 10 teachers poised to offer the first Youth Education in Arts (YEA) Music Camp, which has three sessions: June 28 through July 2, July 26-30 and Aug. 16-20.

The suggested donation is $10 per day for instruction and practice from 9 a.m. until noon weekdays, but no one will be turned away, Ferland emphasized.

Information and registration can be found at YEAmusic.org.

Young musicians from anywhere on the North Olympic Peninsula are welcome, he said.

All sessions will be outdoors and socially distanced. Instruction will be available in a variety of formats, from chamber ensemble and jazz band to fiddle playing and drumming.

“The level of instructors is absolutely amazing,” said Ferland, who teaches music at Port Townsend High School.

Fellow YEA Music Camp teachers and coaches include Port Townsend native Matt McBride-Daline, now a professor of music at Ohio’s Bowling Green University; his wife, Pei-Hsuan Chung, who has a doctorate in piano performance; Port Townsend’s Gwen Franz, whose Ph.D. is in viola performance, and Mike McLeron, a veteran music educator who plays tuba in the Port Townsend Summer Band and double bass in the Port Townsend Symphony Orchestra.

Kristin Smith, a longtime Port Townsend music teacher who performs in the Port Angeles and Port Townsend symphony orchestras, is likewise eager to play with young musicians this summer at the fort.

“Many of our instructors are donating time to help get this year’s first series of camps up and running,” Ferland noted.

Music classes in schools across the county were suspended last year amid the pandemic. In the ensuing months, Ferland noted, YEA Music, a registered nonprofit since 2018, has provided Zoom lessons to help keep students playing — and connected them with teachers for private lessons.

As for this summer’s camp, Ferland, Smith and the YEA team want novices, too, in the program Ferland calls “very, very inclusive.”

“Beginners will have different instruments to try,” he added.

Brandon Rittenour, a cellist who is earning a music education degree at Walla Walla University, contacted Ferland earlier this year about becoming a YEA instructor. After learning of Rittenour’s experience as a coach and performer, Ferland brought him on board.

Rittenour said his studies in cello and participation in orchestra led him to fall in love with music; he went on to coach cello and chamber performance at summer music programs across the state.

He’s discovered his passion: supporting the development of young musicians.

Funding for YEA Music Camp comes from a Spark Joy grant provided by the Better Living through Giving circle, part of the Jefferson Community Foundation, Ferland noted. The Port Townsend Music Boosters club is also supporting the camp while Centrum is partnering with the organization to provide space at Fort Worden.

The original funding to start the YEA program in Jefferson County included support from the Kiwanis Club and Elks Lodge. Those service groups funded activities a well as the purchase of instruments for youngsters who wouldn’t otherwise have access.

The YEA teaching model is based on the El Sistema music programs, which originated in South America during the 1970s. The method is based on the idea of social change through music and the value of rich, positive musical experiences for all children, regardless of background.

In 2019, Ferland was invited to be a guest conductor of an El Sistema program with a youth orchestra in Costa Rica.

“I was blown away,” he said, by the enthusiasm the kids had for making music together.

The pandemic has been especially hard on local music programs, so the goal of the camps is to support young musicians and recruit new students, Ferland added.

Julie Russell, retired Blue Heron Middle School dean, is the YEA program executive director — and a former music student.

“My music education and experiences were an important part of developing my confidence, perseverance and social skills,” she said, adding YEA Music has long-term goals of establishing youth performing groups in Jefferson County.

Those could an honor youth jazz ensemble, a youth symphony and a youth choir.

YEAmusic.org has information about supporting those plans.

________

Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]

More in Entertainment

Darby Huffman of LaughinGnome Pottery, pictured at the Port Townsend Farmers Market, will welcome visitors to the new studio space he shares with partner Francie Loveall this Friday evening during the First Friday Speaker Series program. Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News
LaughinGnome to host Friday visit

Capacity of First Friday in-person program is 30

Melissa Bixby
Beads, Batik featured at Port Townsend Gallery

Fiber and bead artist Pat Herkal and Batik artist Melissa Bixby are… Continue reading

”The Cherokee Word for Water,” co-produced and co-directed by Charlie Soap, left, and starring Kimberly Guerrero as Wilma Mankiller and Mo Brings Plenty as Soap, is the August Port Townsend Film Festival Pic available for streaming throughout this week. (Photo courtesy Port Townsend Film Festival via cw4w.com)
‘Cherokee’ film available for streaming this week

Story highlights ability to bring people together

Sequim Elks to resume bimonthly dances

Black Diamond Junction will perform dance music at 6 p.m.… Continue reading

Book discussion groups offered by library system

The North Olympic Library System will continue its book… Continue reading

Painter Matthew Rianwater's work is featured at Gallery 9 this month.
Kenney’s jewelry, Rainwater’s painting on view at Gallery 9

Michael Kenney’s handmade jewelry and Gary Rainwater’s oil paintings… Continue reading

After the pandemic by Mary Franchini
Blue Whole Gallery unveils August artists

Blue Whole Gallery will present Divas and Vessels this month.… Continue reading

"Afternoon Delight" is by Port Ludlow Art League featured artist Diane Walker.
Photography, jewelry featured by Port Ludlow Art League

Group show, scholarship winners announced

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Sarah Jane, gallery and program director of the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, admires "Spoonful" by Lucy Congdon Hanson, a featured art installation on Saturday's guided tour of Webster's Woods Sculpture Park.
Guided tour Saturday of outdoor sculpture park

More than 100 pieces on display in Webster’s Woods

Most Read