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How I Teach

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Summer Music Camp at the Manhattan School of Music

Desmond Sam and William Guiracoche in rehearsal for the camp musical, Aladdin Jr. Photo by Brian Hatton. First in a series on free summer opportunities for New York City students. Coming soon: The Summer Arts Institute at Stuyvesant High School. More than 100 middle school students sit scattered throughout an auditorium at the Manhattan School of Music, clapping and cheering as names of students selected to perform in a concert are announced. Joanne Polk, the Dean of MSM's Precollege Division, shares a funny moment from one of the students concert sign-up sheet. "When I wrote 'How long is your piece?'" she says, "You wrote, 'It depends on how musically I play it.'" She finishes the morning announcements with a reminder about "Twin Day" that coming Friday, and the children stream out of the auditorium, many carrying instrument cases. Musically talented 6th through 9th graders come from public schools all over the city for the Manhattan School of Music's Summer Music Camp, where they study ensemble performance, music theory, and ear-training, take lessons in their particular discipline, and explore improvisation, conducting, composition, and more through electives. Mornings are for classes; afternoons are for extracurricular activities like marching band, ballroom dance, and acting classes. Rebecca Charnow, director of MSM's Young People's Division, says the camp is an important opportunity for middle school students, whose schools may have cut arts programs due to an increased focus on testing in mathematics and reading.