By Amy Shortt
Minister of Music, Lakeside Baptist-Rocky Mount
Started in 2013, NOTEBUSTERS, an annual community children’s music camp hosted by Lakeside Baptist in Rocky Mount, NC, meets the first week in August and is open to all children entering grades 2-7 who love to sing. Each year, music and activities are centered around a theme, for example last year’s theme was “Tales and Tunes” and the children explored music inspired by great works of children’s literature.
The goal of the camp is to foster inclusion using music and civic engagement as tools. By establishing relationships with African-American churches, collaborating with day care centers for low income families, and partnering with local businesses, children from diverse backgrounds have an opportunity to make friends and make music. At the end of the week, the children give back to the community through a performance of what they’ve learned. NOTEBUSTERS has performed at the local library and local market, the historic train station and Rocky Mount Mills.
COVID-19 restrictions on group singing and performances made this year’s camp a particular challenge. How to have an effective, fun musical experience and keep everyone safe, too required some thinking outside the box.
I wanted to do something centered around the music of Ludwig van Beethoven since this year marks the 250th anniversary of his birth. Then I ran across this quote by Carl Orff, “Since the beginning of time, children have not liked to study. They would much rather play and if you have their interests at heart, you will let them learn while they play; they will find that what they have mastered is child’s play”–NOTEBUSTERS 2020 theme, “ODE and ORFF!” was born.
The children explored the life and music of Ludwig van Beethoven and learned to play an arrangement of “ODE TO JOY,” the theme from his famous Ninth Symphony on Orff instruments [Orff instruments include xylophones, glockenspiels, marimbas, metallophones, drums and recorders].
Everyone was required to wear a mask. Physical distancing and sanitizing precautions were observed and the number of participants was limited.
Did we miss singing and performing? Yes. But in a year full of challenges and changes for everyone, NOTEBUSTERS 2020 managed to learn and make music in a new way, to have fun, make new friends and stay safe too.