Hey, girls. Remember the column I wrote last March about an upcoming event at Berkeley High called JazzGirls Day?
A lot of you took me up on it, and apparently you had the time of your lives. I got email after email from kids and parents, and they couldn't stop raving about the experience.
"It was awesome!" said one girl.
"I thought I was the only girl who liked jazz," said another. "It was so great to find out I'm not alone."
Well, if one day was so much fun, how'd you like to do it for a whole week?
Many of the same musicians who taught at JazzGirls Day will also teach at the fifth annual Jazzschool Girls' Jazz & Blues Camp, which will take place Aug. 5-9 at the Jazzschool in downtown Berkeley. And every teacher is a woman who is making a professional career in jazz.
"That's important," says the camp director, saxophonist/drummer Jean Fineberg, the co-founder -- along with trumpeter Ellen Seeling -- of the Montclair Women's Big Band and the Girls' Jazz Camp. "Girls need role models to make them realize that they can do it, too."
And that can be very empowering.
"My daughter LOOOVED camp and is now confident enough to join her school jazz band," said one mom.
A grandmother said, "My granddaughter came home excited and happy every day and now sees herself as a musician with a place in the world."
The camp runs from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 5-9, with a concert, when the girls show off all the stuff they've learned, at 6 p.m. Aug. 9. One of the highlights of each day is the lunch break, when the teachers and students get together in the courtyard for a jam session.
Tuition is $450 if you pay before June 1, $475 afterward. Some financial aid may be available. If you're an out-of-towner, housing with a local family may be available, too. All girls in grades six through 12 are eligible. All you need is some proficiency on your instrument -- except singers, who can be newbies -- and a desire to develop your skills in a fun environment with other girls.
The first step is registering online at jazzschool.org/girlsreg, where you'll find more information and tell them about your elective preferences. Then call the Jazzschool at 510-845-5373 to pay and reserve your spot. You'll be contacted to schedule a short, friendly audition (voluntary for singers) to evaluate your skill level and place you in appropriate ensembles, including jazz, blues/soul and Big Band.
You'll also be offered a choice of electives, including improvisation, percussion, Latin music, pop music choir and songwriting. Finally, each camper will be given a 30-minute private lesson.
Don't be scared by the prospect that you might not know anybody going in. On the first morning, Fineberg always says, "Everybody who doesn't know anybody raise your hand." And almost every hand in the room goes up. But by Friday, those strangers will have formed lasting friendships based on mutual interests and support. And that can be a real eye-opener.
"After I played my solo, all the girls in the band clapped for me," said one girl after last year's camp. "AND I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW ANY OF THEM!"
Reach Martin Snapp at firstname.lastname@example.org.