Grant Reaches Out to Students
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Grant Reaches Out to Students

This year, the University of St. Thomas Music Preparatory School offered six camps – the most the program has offered at one time – for students enrolled in grades 3-12 and of all skill levels. Enrollment numbers ranged from 19 students in the String Institute to 40 students in the Piano Day Camp.

Paul Krystofiak, founder and director of the Musical Preparatory School and faculty of the Music Department at the University of St. Thomas, said the increase in attendance is due in part to a recent grant from the Charity Guild of Catholic Women.  The grant allowed 93 students to attend who would not have otherwise had the chance.

Miguel Perez, associate superintendent in the Secretariat for Catholic Schools who  helped recruit students from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, said music programs like MPS help build motivation, self-esteem and confidence in students. Additionally, he said, music programs have a positive impact on a student’s scholastic learning.

A music program plays a fundamental part in providing a holistic educational learning experience in Catholic education,” Perez said. “A music program will enable students to learn performance etiquette, personal accountability, self-independence, team work, and the ability to commit time to practice on a continuous basis.  It is vitally important that we continue to provide access to students in the inner city schools.”

MPS Summer Camps

Children’s Choral Camp

Students worked with teachers in morning group choral rehearsals and training in chant, liturgical, theological and repertoire classes. Krystofiak said this is the most popular camp for students with no prior musical experience.

For this camp, students were selected by their Catholic school music teachers and their tuition was paid for by the CGCW.

Axiom String Quartet Camp

Students were formed into ensemble groups by age and similar music level. Each group was then coached by a member of the Axiom String Quartet – the Music Preparatory School’s String Quartet in Residence at the University – and on the last day of camp groups performed a recital.

This camp is geared toward high-level students who are expected to perform at a certain level, and possess a particular enthusiasm about the challenging pieces they are given.

Houston Piano Day Camp

Students were introduced to a variety of music through group activities, composers and the basics of music theory. They practiced technique and received group and individual instruction, plus hands-on experience with a variety of keyboard instruments. Students also watched three guest demonstrations given by a piano technician, pipe organist and harpist, as well as three demonstrations by Krystofiak on the harpsichord, clavichord and early French piano. At the end of the week, students performed in a recital and received certificates and awards at a closing ceremony.

Summer Guitar Camp

This weeklong workshop offered guitar, bass and music courses for all levels and styles, including rock, blues, jazz, acoustic, classical and songwriting. Students were introduced to a variety of guitar and bass music through group activities, games and dedicated lessons, learned how to perform and learned the basics of theory and practicing technique. Students received group and individual instruction, hands-on experience with different instruments, playing and improvisation, music reading and theory and song writing. They also performed in a recital and received certificates and awards at a closing ceremony at the end of the week.

This camp allowed students freedom to express their creativity through different styles of playing, as well as learning what it is like to “jam” with other musicians.

String Institute: Vivaldi and Venice

Advanced string players had the chance to rehearse and perform concertos for string orchestra by the great Venetian composer, Anotonio Vivaldi. Students had the opportunity to view and discuss manuscripts and first editions, learn about Venetian culture and history and were exposed to the work of Vivaldi’s contemporaries and to learn about is music’s influence on Johann Sebastian Bach.

This camp is one of the most high-level, intensive camps for students. Some of the pieces students rehearse are played by professional musicians.

Tuition for the String Institute included the price of a Baroque bow for each student.

Math and Music Academy

This camp offers a unique opportunity for students to enhance their understanding of mathematical and musical concepts through the examination of the interconnection between math and music. Students examined the mathematics of beats, learned to visualize tones and explored the mathematical differences in musical intervals. They also received group instruction on mathematical concepts and on the musical application of those concepts.

By Elaine Rivera

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