Local music camp scores first-year success

The halls were alive with the sound of music this week as Bravissimo! Music and Arts Camp took over Hood River Valley High School.

The school walls reverberated with music from trumpets, drums, clarinets, flutes, saxophones and voices each morning as more than 60 students in 6th through 9th grade advanced their skills with the help of instructors from around the Gorge and Portland.

“Horns up, sit up straight, elbows out,” said Jason Weaver to his seven trumpet proteges practicing in a room off the commons. “We want a nice, beautiful round sound.”

In another room BJ Thomas, head band director at The Dalles High School, led three students and two volunteer helpers in a percussion session.

“It’s going to get a bit loud in here,” he said before the group launched into a high energy, foot-stomping jam. His baseball hat said “Drum Guy,” but all his students — even the ones new to the instruments — seemed to be drum guys and gals.

The camp was instigated by Hood River Valley High School music director Mark Steighner, Joan Yasui Emerson and Community Education director Mike Schend who, at mid-week, were pleased with the way things were going for Bravissimo’s inaugural year.

“The instructors are doing a really good job,” Steighner said. “They’re all young and enthusiastic. And there’s a lot of variety. The kids are getting a lot of different experiences for sure.”

Campers spent their mornings in two sessions of instrumental learning with their chosen instrument. Steighner also taught a voice session. After a break for lunch and a noon-time performance by invited guests — ranging from Jesse Berdine of Oregon Ballet Theatre to the drumming powerhouse Portland Taiko — campers rotated around a series of “enrichment” workshops highlighting various arts activities.

Seth Dunlap, 15, came to the camp each day from Carson, Wash. He spent his mornings learning saxophone from instructor Erik Steighner, but enjoyed the afternoon art sessions almost as much.

“It’s fun getting to try out more things,” he said.

Brynden Rawdin Morris of Hood River had similar sentiments.

“I picked percussion because I’ve been wanting to learn drums for a while,” he said after his jam session with “Drum Guy.”

“He’s a good teacher,” Brynden said of Thomas. “We all have our own level and he helps us.” The homeschooled, soon-to-be 9th-grader also liked the afternoon enrichment sessions. And to top off all that enriching soul food, there was one more plus at Bravissimo this week.

“Good snacks,” Rawdin Morris said, munching on a brownie at lunch.

The camp concluded Friday with a final performance by the students.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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