Instrumental introduction

Kacilyn Pegues picked up the detached mouthpiece of a flute and put it to her mouth.
The 8-year-old girl had never played flute before, but when she blew across the mouthpiece, she produced a sound that impressed instructor Lesley Shields.
“You were born to play flute,” Shields told Kacilyn, bringing a smile to the girl’s face.
Kacilyn’s experience was shared by several other children last week during the Music Summer Camp 2010 sponsored by Music Masters and held at The Sky is the Limit Ministries. Many of the campers, who ranged in age from 4 to 15, were picking up instruments for the first time.
“It is great,” said Milo Westmoreland, 8. “Playing instruments is fun.”
In its first year, the five-day camp was the brainchild of Terrence Cummings, the director of Music Masters, a Tupelo company that offers private music lessons.
“I wanted to expose our community to different musical instruments,” Cummings said.
Cummings, who also teaches at Milam Elementary, got help from Shields, who teaches band at Milam and is an assistant band director at Tupelo High School.
“It is neat because it introduces them to instruments at an early age,” Shields said. “It is great to have them at least have an idea of what a flute is and how they should hold it.”
During the morning, campers cycled through 30-minute rotations with different instruments: guitars, drums, keyboard and various horns.
Later, they had a 30-minute dance session in the church’s gym. They also took time to make their own musical instruments, like tambourines out of paper plates.
“It gives them an outlet,” Cummings said. “It also teaches them to use the creative part of their brains. It exposes them to something new and fresh.”
Cummings said learning music early gives the children an important outlet.
“They want to sing, and they want to play it,” Cummings said. “At a young age, there are not a lot of opportunities for them just to learn.
“When I was young, I would beat on things a lot, and I was lucky I got exposed to instruments at church. A lot of times, parents don’t have the opportunity to put something in front of their children. Here they can play the keyboard, sing, make instruments and play the guitar.”
They’ll also have the opportunity to discover what instrument they enjoy playing.
“You don’t pick an instrument, the instrument picks you,” Cummings said. “By them being exposed to many different instruments, they find out what they are attracted to.”
Eight-year-old Milo described the process of playing several of the instruments he learned. He told of alternating between the bass drum, snare drum and cymbals and about getting a sound from a trumpet.
“When you get a noise out, all you have to do is press the buttons,” he said. “At the end, your mouth is numb.”
Paul White, a rising sophomore saxophone player in the Itawamba Community College band, helped as a camp counselor. He said he was impressed by the raw talent of several campers.
“We are getting to be steppingstones for them to see paths they have,” White said. “This will be something they can do in the future that maybe keeps them out of trouble.”
Despite her success on the flute, Kacilyn said her favorite part of the camp was the drums, “because you get to do your own beat on them.”
Kendra Monroe, 9, said she enjoyed the dance class.
“I liked the part when we got into the gym and started singing and dancing,” she said. “You get to exercise and run around and make a lot of noise without getting in trouble.”

Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

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