“Groovey” Camp for Youth in Foster Care

With the help of a compassionate music mentor and the Music Impact Network, underserved youth have transformative musical experience

When professional bass player, Geena Spigarelli, considered what she might do while on break from touring this summer, she considered a number of things. Then she recalled how fulfilled she felt when she was a music mentor with Kids in a New Groove (KING), an Austin-based organization that provides free, private music instruction to youth living in foster care.

“I reached out to KING Executive Director, Laura Wood,” Geena says, “And we came up with the idea for a brand new Summer Music Camp.”

It was sure to be a success if only Geena could figure out what to do for whole a whole week with 20 kids, many who were living in a group home and had no prior music experience.

That’s where Music Impact Network came in. Geena found this new community online and immediately joined. In addition to the programming ideas she got there from peers doing similar music mentoring all around the country, she also downloaded many of Music Impact Network’s free resources online. She discovered everything from songwriting games to instrument-building craft projects to performance preparation activities, and incorporated them all into the KING Summer Music Camp.

One particularly impactful activity was a rhythm call-and-response game that Geena found within the Music Impact Network’s Project Drumline program. She took this game and enhanced it, creating a rhythm exercise in which the youth passed the rhythm around their circle. The campers practiced this every day, with the goal of remembering an increasingly complex rhythmic pattern. It was like the classic game of “Telephone,” but with music!

The kids loved it, and eventually they were able to create and repeat more advanced rhythms. “It truly helped them cognitively and musically,” says Geena.

The Summer Music Camp was filled with many successes like this. But the biggest success of all was the final performance in front of their peers and foster families. “The show was incredible,” says Geena proudly. In just a week, the participants— who started out with varying levels of music experience— had learned to work together, had boosted each other’s confidence, had written songs and then performed them as bands.

“They had a blast,” says Geena. “And building a love for music is something we’re in dire need of. There are clear musical correlations that translate into life experiences.”

Will Kids in a New Groove offer the Summer Music Camp again next year? “Yes. Definitely,” says Geena, “And I look forward to getting more ideas from Music Impact Network!”

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Visit Music Impact Network and join the Facebook Group