The Sound of Potential: SMA Summer Music Camp

By: Felechia Brodie January, 2013

The Saskatchewan Music Alliance (SMA) Summer Music Camp is heading into its third successful summer of offering a week-long musical immersion experience for youth in Regina and Saskatoon. The camp came into being in 2012 when five provincial music organizations came together around an opportunity to engage inner-city youth – who may not have the opportunity otherwise - in music programming during the summer.

The five music organizations, known as the Saskatchewan Music Alliance -  Saskatchewan Band Association (SBA), Saskatchewan Choral Federation

(SCF), Saskatchewan Music Educators Association (SMEA), Saskatchewan Music Festival Association (SMFA) and Saskatchewan Orchestral Association (SOA) – saw the camp as a great opportunity to increase accessibility to music experience. 

“The goal of the camp is to bridge the gap between inner-city youth and cultural activity, which seems to have a bit of a disconnect,” says Carol Donhauser, executive director, Saskatchewan Music Festival Association (SMFA).

“In its first year, over 80 youth participated in Regina and Saskatoon,” she says. “Last summer the camp expanded to Prince Albert, and over 180 youths participated.”  The four-day camps take place on the university campuses, or at Dream Broker elementary schools. The Music Alliance relies on the Dream Brokers in the communities to recruit students to the camp and help to create a familiar environment. The children attend at no cost, thanks to corporate sponsorship and support from SaskCulture and the Saskatchewan Lotteries Trust Fund for Sport, Culture and Recreation. Children attend on a “first come, first served” basis and, so far, the camp has been able to accept all applications.

During the first day of camp, students have the opportunity to experiment with several different streams of music (band, choir, percussion, strings, First Nations drumming, speech arts and storytelling) before focusing on one instrument. The camp provides transportation, food (snack and lunch), and a lot of fun, including visual arts and sports, to engage the kids. The camp provides a structured program and cultivates interest in a cultural activity. Learning a musical instrument builds confidence and creativity, relieves stress, increases the ability to learn, develops self-discipline, and creates a sense of achievement.

On the last afternoon of the camp, a gala concert takes place with family, friends, sponsors, and other stakeholders sharing in the celebration. The pride on the faces of the students, their parents, and grandparents is always something to behold.

The Saskatchewan Music Alliance promotes and encourages musical involvement and activity for all Saskatchewan residents as part of a healthy lifestyle that includes personal fulfillment and accomplishment. The organizations accepted the leadership role of presenting musical opportunities to inner-city youth, in partnership with SaskCulture Inc. and the Dream Brokers Program.