May 14, 2012
Summersongs Songwriting Camp changed my life and in turn I have been empowered to reach out and effect change in my own community! Founder and director Penny Nichols created a model for how to run a songwriting camp that is the most effective I have ever experienced. Beyond improving my songwriting and performing, it inspired me to form a local songwriter's group based on her model and then to found an acoustic performance venue that also serves to benefit a local not-for-profit land conservation trust. Artists that perform at the venue also conduct workshops for our community at our venue (as well as in the public schools) which are similar to those I attended at Summersongs. What is so special about Penny Nichol's model? Summersongs provides an emotionally safe environment for artists to take risks and test their limits. Commentary must be solicited directly by each artist according to their desire for input - and when it is given it must always be constructive and kind. The faculty is strictly held accountable to maintain this environment in their classes as well as in song circles. Also, mutual respect for each musician's abilities and artistry is encouraged by requiring everyone that participates in a song circle to listen to everyone in the circle if they are to participate in a round. What happens over the course of camp is quite remarkable. I have seen so many lives enhanced and enriched not only by the musical gifts that are shared and developed at camp, but also by the sense of community and the deep friendships that are formed over the years by the participants that attend. I have never seen anything quite like it. The many connections and friendships I've made continue throughout the year. What attendees learn in camp they take back to their communities, empowered to make a difference where they live. In the future I am looking toward to starting a similar songwriting camp here in Florida. After each camp we all fill out comment sheets giving feedback on the faculty, our personal experiences, and suggestions for improving the camp experience. It is clear from my years of going to camp that those suggestions are carefully considered and acted upon if deemed appropriate. Over time they have found a strong faculty base to draw on and are always trying new faculty after careful screening. The decisions to have faculty come back are very much based on the experience of the campers with those members. Please consider granted an award to Summersongs Songwriting Camp for it's role is promoting the arts while empowering artists to promote the arts in their own communities.
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