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Campers have got rhythm
Children find unique beat at church summer camp
0713SUMMER 3
Arvin Scott instructs the youth how play African drums Tuesday at the First Presbyterian Church’s Summer Arts Camp for Kids. - photo by NAT GURLEY

Music drifted through the hallways of First Presbyterian Church this week as nearly 70 elementary school students learned a few instrument fundamentals.

The Gainesville church off Enota Avenue hosted its second Summer Arts Camp for Kids this week. Faculty members and guests taught the students about various musical concepts. Director of music Mike Henry said the program is a good ministry opportunity that exposes children to musical lessons during the summer.

“Most of the songs are Christian based,” Henry said. “It’s skills based, but it’s fun, too. We’re trying to incorporate some basic music education in everything that we do. It’s singing, it’s instrumental, its theory. It’s as much as we can cram in such a short period of time.”

Though some of the children attend the church regularly, most came from outside of the congregation.

Henry said the program was so successful last year the church added a few new lessons, such as African drumming and folk dance.

Ruth Purcell, the choir and folk dance instructor, led the children through a few different dances, including American and English folk dances. Purcell said children today live in a “motion deprived” society and dancing is a fun and healthy release.

“In our current culture, kids are not getting enough of these things in their normal daily lives,” Purcell said. “They’re sitting with handhelds and in front of computers and TVs instead of moving and jumping and skipping and climbing trees, all the things kids used to do. This is a form of movement education in that respect.”

Purcell said folk dance also provides an opportunity to teach children about spatial orientation and social interactions.

“And it’s fun and aerobic,” Purcell said smiling while a group of children held hands and jumped behind her. “It’s very healthy in a lot of ways.”

Down the hall, children got another opportunity to learn more than they expected to with a lesson in African drumming. Arvin Scott, professor of music at University of Georgia and creator of the Drumming for Success workshops, taught the children how to work together and find their own rhythm. Each child got his or her own moment to shine when Scott held “star time.” The class took turns listening to each other come up with their own beats.

Later, they played “desert drums,” the children chanted “cake and ice cream chocolate syrup” to help them keep time as they played together.

Scott said the drumming workshops help children learn about much more than just keeping rhythm.

“It’s all about learning and setting goals and meeting those goals and building self-esteem,” Scott said. “It inspires creativity. It does make a really good impression on them.”

At the end of the half-hour lesson, Scott played back a recording of the children’s drumming.

Carter Forrester, 7, thought his group of first and second-graders sounded good.

“I liked it when I played,” Carter said.