88 Creative Keys Travels to Ohio – Leila Viss

You know you’ve got a good thing when the dog jumps in the back of the car. Marlow was gently coaxed out of the hatch to make room for the drums, guitar, notebooks, Toebourines,™ a couple of computers and of course some iPads all for the first day of our 88 Creative Keys Camp in Ohio.

Marlo was quite sure 88 Creative Keys would be more fun than staying home
Marlow was quite sure 88 Creative Keys would be more fun than staying home

(FYI: 88 Creative Keys is a camp founded by Bradley Sowash and me to encourage creativity beyond the page. There are tracks for teachers and students.)

For a number of years, Bradley Sowash has worked with Suzuki Music Columbus for Strings and it was suggested (somewhat at the last-minute) that this year we hold our camp in collaboration with theirs held every year at Otterbein University. As it’s hard to say “no” to such an offer and as we were both willing to improvise on short notice, we agreed and made plans to stake our claim and set up camp in Ohio.

Teaching Creativity Track: For Teachers

There were some unfortunate glitches along the way due to various events held at the same time so our teacher track was few in numbers but mighty in energy and pizzazz. The fun-loving group dug into every tip, strategy, technique and app suggested.

Most of the teachers at 88 Creative Keys. Missing one due to a family emergency
Most of the teachers at 88 Creative Keys. Missing one due to a family emergency

It’s impossible to provide a full list of all the learning outcomes of the teacher track but here are a few highlights. The enthusiastic teachers-turned-rookie improvisers learned:

  •  How to add bass lines, smooth left hand chord progressions and melodic fills to lead sheets
  • Basic drum patterns for rock, swing and latin styles to accompany students
  • Secrets of creating combos
  • Apps for ear training, chord spelling, creativity and more
  • How to jump into a jam session and roll with it
  • The “Cup Song” and then how fun it was to master Wendy Stevens’ Rhythm Cup Explorations
  • How to help students prepare for high school jazz band
  • Steps to encourage young improvisers
  • The importance of knowing chords and 7th chords
  • And so much that it was good for Bradley to take off and teach the string players for an hour so Leila could chat about some apps and off-bench activities and lead a session to practice and absorb.

Check out the video to get a sneak peek at the experience

Sally came for the teacher track, then stayed for the student track along with her son, Charlie
Sally came for the teacher track, then stayed for the student track along with her son, Charlie

“Thank you, Bradley, for how you taught the improvisation/chording camp this week. Finally an educator who offered just enough to make it exciting and interesting but not enough to overwhelm. You have a beautiful spirit and a gift for making each student believe they will be successful at something that can be easy but is sometimes hard. You and Leila Viss, from 88 Creative Keys, make a great team. You compliment each other perfectly.” -Sally E.

Beyond the Page Track: For Students

As we could only guess as to who might be interested in attending our Ohio student track and because there was little time to market, we opened the camp to anyone of any age and set clear parameters for expectations. What resulted was a mighty large spread in ages all possessing a similar passion to create music beyond the page.

A good deal of what was covered in the teacher track was included in the student track but more time was taken to explain phototechnique, chords, a steady pulse, etc. A couple of highlights include:

  •  A full house–every keyboard was filled, we sold out
  • A twelve-year-old young man with iPad in tow eagerly downloaded every app I recommended–a dream student not only because of his enthusiasm for the iPad but a downright fine pianist, quick learner and creative
  • Observing the success of Bradley’s tutelage as one of his regular students attended the camp and  “let loose” on a tune and blew us away with his chops
  • A spirit of support for each other as each pianist showcased new-found skills
  • Enjoying time with family as my mom was in Columbus for a quilt workshop and my sister attended the camp–scroll down to check out the book they found for me
  • And of course, a great deal more.

Check out this video to get a taste of the three-day camp

Thank you to ALL who joined us at 88 Creative Keys in Ohio.

‘Til next time, enjoy your musical journey!

– Leila Viss

A fitting bedtime story for me!
A fitting bedtime story for me!

 

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