Campers learn from masters at jazz camp

You won't find tents, campfires and all that jazz at a summer camp at Messiah College, but you will find all that jazz.

Budding musicians from seven states were learning from – and playing alongside – some of the best in the business.

Guest educator Cyrus Chestnut encouraged jazz campers to listen carefully, and they did. The campers received three days of classroom courses in the morning, hands-on lessons in the afternoon, and jam sessions in the evenings.

“If we grant kids access to greatness and access to really phenomenal musicians, really phenomenal culture, we know that will light a fire,” said host educator Dr. William Stowman. “And by granting them access to an artist like Cyrus Chestnut and Jonathan Ragonese, and the rest of the staff, we're doing something really special for these kids.”

Students from 10 years old to 21 tackled the heart and soul of the uniquely American music.

“I can hear the jazz music right in front of me. It actually makes me feel that I can do the same thing,” said 10-year-old Reagan Starrett.

The camp is organized and staffed by the Central Pennsylvania Friends of Jazz, headed by master jazz pianist Steve Rudolph, who admits he has a practical reason for teaching the young to embrace jazz.

“I plan on playing for several more years and I need an audience,” Rudolph said with a laugh. “So, this is what I'm doing, I'm planting the seeds.”


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