Some 200 young people from schools throughout Broward and Miami-Dade are lined up on a football field while instructions come over the loudspeaker from a perch high in the stands.
“Somebody get to the bass drums. The bass drums are lost,” barks Dr. Shelby Chipman, who runs band programs at Florida A&M University.
Today, the kids are mastering Drake and Beyoncé—alternating between learning the football-field-sized choreography and the music.
“We’re trying to make band relevant,” Chipman says of the camp. Band won’t be relevant unless the kids are entertained.
“As bands are relevant, and they’re important to kids, we keep kids off the streets,” Chipman says, hoping that “these students, as they get it through their participation in this art will be able to work just as hard in their academics.”
Like most of the camp’s staff, Chipman got his start in music in Dade public schools, playing trumpet at Horace Mann Middle School. Michael Scott, band director at South Broward High School, says when he was coming up in Miami the only band camp he knew of was in Tallahassee. “Lots of us couldn’t afford to pay $500, $600 to travel and go to band camp,” Scott says.
He says this camp—held in Overtown with a price tag of $50—is much easier to reach.
If you want to hear the kids do their thing, there’s a free concert at the Lyric Theater , 890 NW Second Ave., at 7 p.m. on Thursday, and the full marching band will play at Gibson Park, 399 NW 12th St., Saturday at 3 p.m.