Budding musicians to head to State College Rock Camp

Matt Price, left, works with a State College Rock Camp student. The summer camp starts June 19.
Matt Price, left, works with a State College Rock Camp student. The summer camp starts June 19. Photo provided

Centre County is a great place to grow up. We have natural resources, the arts, a physically active community and a low crime rate. It truly is Happy Valley.

Kids also have the option of attending State College Rock Camp, which starts June 19. Local drummer and Robert M. Sides teacher Matt Price and local musician Jeff Gibble are the founders of the camp, which is in its eighth year.

“Jeff and I started the camps in 2010 when we realized that most of our young students had never played with other musicians before,” Price said. “They would just play along to the recorded versions of songs to practice. Getting in a room with other people and playing raises the bar for musicians of all ages and skill levels.”

It’s tough for most people to get started on an instrument, although my daughter got a trumpet two weeks ago and thanks to YouTube knew how to play five songs on it before she ever picked it up. My daughter aside, most people take at least a little bit of time to get their fingers moving in the same direction as their ears.

“Music-specific goals are learning to play music together, recognizing song structures and arrangements, understanding different instruments roles in a rock band,” Price said. “Advanced camps perform in public at the People’s Choice Festival and at Webster’s Bookstore Cafe, and they record original songs at local recording studios. Some past State College Rock Camp bands have their original songs on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc.”

State College Rock Camp started small and has grown significantly. As you can read on the camp’s Facebook site, Price and Gibble initially set out to offer a way to help young musicians get a feel for playing with others, but it was so popular they added a winter session, and then that was so popular they started adding more weeks in the summer. Now, it runs for multiple weeks and is designed to meet the anticipated and unanticipated needs of the students.

“I feel like what we teach at rock camp can be applied to every area of a student’s life,” Price said. “Not just in music, but skills like team work, communication, trial and error and the achieving short-term goals that lead to bigger picture things. I am really passionate about trying to inspire the students and my hope is always the kids will stick with music, but even if they don’t I want them to remember the lessons for whatever path they go down in life.”

Gibble jumped on board with Price’s sentiments, broadening his scope.

“Rock Camp is an environment for young musicians to play rock and pop music in bands,” Gibble said. “They have an outlet where they can apply skills they are learning with their private instrumental/vocal lessons. They have new challenges too, playing new instruments, singing, composing, recording and performing for an audience. Music (and all arts) is life. Music is our life. It is alive in the same way we are alive. It is our thoughts, dreams, experiences, and memories. Music is a sonic expression of our breath, our heartbeat and our humanity.”

For more information, visit www.mattprice drumming.com/rockcamp.

Kevin Briggs is a musician, writer and teacher who performs at venues throughout central Pennsylvania. Contact him at KevinTBriggs@gmail .com.