I first came to Lamar Stringfield Music Camp when I was 12 years old. At the time, I had no clue what I was going to experience, who I would be playing with, who to sit with at lunch, or whether I would fit in. I discovered within the first days of camp that LSMC was the start of something new. “Lamar” was the stepping stone that gave me the foundational confidence to start considering music as a life’s calling. Without those weeks of camp at the beginning of every summer, I’m not sure that I would have had the courage to audition for other summer music festivals outside of North Carolina, where I interacted with musicians at the collegiate level. I learned in those conversations about places like Oberlin College and Conservatory, where I now am pursuing two degrees in the liberal arts and music with majors in cello and baroque cello performance. I still consider the LSMC chamber music program and the opportunity to play in orchestra under the guidance of Dr. Marilyn Seelman to be some of the best ensemble experiences in which I’ve participated to date. I count LSMC as one of the most important reasons that I kept on playing and practicing to get to where I am today.
My first experiences with the LSMC occurred over the span of several summers. As a camper, I had the opportunity to collaborate with fellow musicians and learn under a variety of distinguished instructors. The camp introduced me to music which pushed me to grow as a violinist and taught me the importance of working as an ensemble. My LSMC story continued as a camp counselor where I was able to continue the tradition of passing on a love of music. This wonderful experience sparked my passion for teaching and eventually established my path toward a career as a teacher and school administrator.
When I reflect on my time at the LSMC, I realize that this program is truly a community gem. The rigorous program teaches young musicians how to develop grit, self-confidence, and an appreciation for the fine arts. In addition, it brings together a diverse collection of children and allows them to discover a common language through music. I will always be incredibly thankful that the Garriss Family started this camp forty years ago. Their dedication and commitment to music education has transformed the lives of so many children who carry with them a special gift--the gift of loving music.
LSMC gave me what I would later come to realize was my first exposure to chamber music. I still remember the first quartet I played at LSMC: Beethoven's Op. 18 No. 1. I can recall the imposing beauty of working in such an intimate environment; playing this music was exhilarating and liberating, and this early exposure definitely helped me develop a lifelong passion for it.
Working as a counselor at Lamar Stringfield Music Camp has been a life changing experience for me. It has taught me about the power that learning music, one of the highest art forms, has on fostering creativity in students. Having the opportunity to rehearse and perform in an orchestra setting with some very talented and nurturing conductors provides for an unforgettable experience that will stay with you for a lifetime.