Andrew Dys

Camp sings a different tune

Matthew McFalling, 4, left, and Alexis Howze, 6, sing together at the "Let's Make Music Summer Camp" at Adam's Chapel AME Church in Rock Hill on Monday.
Matthew McFalling, 4, left, and Alexis Howze, 6, sing together at the "Let's Make Music Summer Camp" at Adam's Chapel AME Church in Rock Hill on Monday.

Music came from little kids at summer camp at Adams Chapel AME Church on Monday, and will for weeks more this summer, just because two ladies who believe music is in every child said it should.

Tiffany Hicks and Kymbrelli Thompson both go to the church, and are graduate sisters in the Zeta Phi Beta sorority. Both are Winthrop University music grads who teach piano. Last summer, each noticed there were few area camps in the summer just for music.

"Sports, Girl Scouts, you name it, there seemed to be a camp for everything except music," Hicks said.

So, from scratch, they started their own camp. They got the go-ahead from the church, and "Let's Make Music Summer Camp" was born.

In six weeks last summer, five kids learned vocals, piano and other fun stuff about music. Yes, piano in the summer can be fun, said William Vance, 10 .

"Cool," William said Monday on the first day of the camp's second summer. The camp was so good he wanted to come back. If a 10-year-old says music camp is cool, playing the piano is cool, it must be.

Monday, the kids learned about notes and the difference between a singing voice and speaking voice. "The cat went up the tree, and down he went," is much different spoken versus sung, that's for sure.

The camp features one-on-one and group instruction, and field trips to music stores and performances. The trained teachers mix math and reading into the activities and gear it toward a show/recital at the end of the summer.

"We want the children to explore music, to feel it and experience it," Thompson said.

Thompson, 32, minister of music at another church, decided to stay in the area after college. Hicks, 27, who teaches music in Charlotte schools, also decided Rock Hill was home after Winthrop. Both could do a lot of other things with their free summer time and make a lot more money at it, probably.

But these two young ladies don't. They aren't waiting for anybody else to do something for children.

Hicks said her love of music started in elementary school. Thompson began her journey toward making a living through music at age 8. Music in church and school helped each find a song in life.

A dozen kids are signed up for this summer. For the next six weeks, more journeys are beginning. A note at a time. A song at a time.

And to top it all off, Thompson and Hicks work cheap. On purpose. The camp is just $50 a week and includes breakfast, lunch and a snack.

"We aren't doing this for money," Hicks said. "We didn't want one child not to be able to come because of money. This camp is for the kids."

All this comes from selflessness. From small beginnings come big ideas. Great things come from the hearts of two people with a song in their hearts.