Institute enhances local musical offerings
With a father who was a concert violinist and a mother who was a pianist, it was almost inevitable Colleen Jackson become a musician herself.”Music has always been like a friend (to me),” Jackson said. “When you can’t formulate you feelings into words, you can sit down with an instrument and express yourself.”Now she wants to perpetuate the art that is so dear to her by creating the Sierra Music Institute. With ventures like the upcoming summer music week at the Kings Beach Elementary, she hopes to bring the benefits of music to children in the area who might not otherwise experience it, she said.”Music has the unique ability to bring a child in touch with himself or herself,” Jackson said. “It enables them to express who they are. It strengthens them in every way. It provides an opportunity to learn discipline.”The camp runs Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and ends with a student recital Friday evening. Teachers from the area and the East Coast, where Jackson was formerly a piano teacher since 1978, will give private lessons, ensemble instruction, coach rehearsals and give workshops and presentations. Children grades 5-12 can receive instruction for piano, violin, viola, cello, guitar, flute and voice at any level.”The strength of the program is in the people – the instructors and advisors…We’re working really hard to customize (the program) for each student,” Jackson said.Each morning the camp will begin with lessons on different instruments for both the individual and ensembles. In the afternoon, different teachers will present workshops, like “Singing beyond the Shower” by vocalist Rebecca Davis, or “Introduction to Jazz Improvisation” by Christopher Smith.The children will also have the opportunity to hear their instructors perform throughout the week, Jackson said. She expects 25-30 participants with an additional 15-40 kids from the Boys & Girls Club joining the afternoon workshops.The music week is the first project of the Sierra Music Institute. Jackson began conferring with other music teachers last October, and has since formed an advisory committee for the Sierra Music Institute. Together they hope to continue with other ideas.”Our vision is to have an ongoing program that continuously provides a variety of music learning activities throughout the year and is also attentive to the needs of the local music teachers,” she said.Although the institute is not technically a non-profit, it operates as though it is, surviving on support from local merchants, clubs and in-kind donors. The Boys & Girls Club is currently raising money to make the institute its own program, Jackson said.The Truckee and the Sunrise Rotary clubs each donated an electric piano. Yamaha provided a grand piano for the music week, and other music stores and schools are lending other instruments and materials. With funds donated by the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation, the institute gave eight scholarships to students to help them pay the tuition for the music week.With the wide community support, Jackson is able to keep costs low and offer the camp to all students.”It’s just really cool how music can bridge all the cultural barriers in a community,” she said.
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