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home : arts & entertainment : arts & entertainment July 22, 2017

3/7/2017 1:25:00 PM
Sisters hosts song academy for youth
Slater Smith worked one-on-one with Rylee Funk at the American Song Academy for Youth last weekend. photo by Ceili Cornelius
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Slater Smith worked one-on-one with Rylee Funk at the American Song Academy for Youth last weekend. photo by Ceili Cornelius

By Ceili Cornelius

Students from Redmond, Bend, Sisters, California and Colorado all came out to The Belfry to attend the Americana Song Academy for Youth last weekend.

The academy, now in its 10th year, gave the young musicians the opportunity to learn from instructors to better their songwriting craft. Throughout the weekend classes addressed various aspects of singing, songwriting, guitar-playing, writer's block, relaxation techniques, learning how to better collaborate and more.

Instructors this year included: Anna Tivel, Beth Wood, Bob Hemenger, Brent Alan, Keith Greeninger, Laura Curtis, Mandy Fer, Mosley Wotta, Patrick Pearsall, Pete Kartounes of The Good Time Travellers, Rick Johnson, Hayley Heynderickx, Slater Smith, and Tom O' - all of whom are musicians, artists, and teachers.

Keith Greeninger, a returning instructor said, "I'm always excited to come back and work with the youth, I believe in encouraging young people to be (themselves)."

Greeninger and his daughter and her friends from Santa Cruz, California, have attended camp for the past three years, and they plan on continuing. Greeninger said he is excited to see that the program now has instructors that are closer in age to the students, so the students can really relate to teachers who aren't that much older than them and who are out in the music world doing what they love.

"This community is treating these students with respect and offering them tools to be themselves and be creative," he said. "My general philosophy in life has been that if people are treated well and given encouragement, that they rise to be wonderful people. When I see that playing out in Sisters, it's a reaffirmation for me that people really are good, and these students can create in that safe space."

Students connect one-on-one with the instructors in classes, song circles, and mentor sessions where students sign up for time with an instructor and receive help with anything related to their songs and craft. In Hayley Heynderickx's writer's block class, students learned about how to climb up "Mt. W" - the who, what, when, where, why of a song.

SHS student Liam Brown said, "Lyric writing really gets under my skin, I know I love it because I hate it so much, and it's so complex."

Heynderickx's main point is that "songwriting can come in seasons"; she said that you don't always have to be writing to be a songwriter.

Throughout the weekend, students are able to ask questions and learn from everyone around them - including each other. Students found others to collaborate with on their songs - whether it was with Brent Alan's house band, or simply another student playing lead guitar.

The weekend's work was then presented to the community at the Celebration of Song on Sunday night at The Belfry, where students and instructors performed what they had been working on through the intensive weekend.

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