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The Nick Rail Summer Band Camp Provides 27th Year of Affordable Music Education for Kids

A saxophone expert instructs students at The Nick Rail Summer Band Camp. A final performance will conclude the camp’s 2016 activities Thursday, July 21, at First United Methodist Church. Click to view larger
A saxophone expert instructs students at The Nick Rail Summer Band Camp. A final performance will conclude the camp’s 2016 activities Thursday, July 21, at First United Methodist Church. (Santa Barbara Education Foundation photo)

Each Tuesday and Thursday morning, First United Methodist Church on Anapamu is filled with happy and sometimes-raucous trills and honks.

In the great auditorium, Jocelyn Tipple stands at the helm of a semi-circle of flutes, saxophones and various other shiny brass instruments.

She runs back and forth from directing at the front of the band to keeping the beat with the large drum set that sits at the back. Faces are scowled in concentration, toes are tapping the floor, and there’s a feeling of excitement in the air.

There was a time, many years ago, when band was just as much a part of summer school curriculum as all the other topics you’d expect to find offered.

Then, in the late 1980s, the economy contracted and choices had to be made. Summer classes were cut, including band.

Fortunately, Nick Rail of Nick Rail Music, the district’s primary vendor for band and orchestral goods and services, learned of the proposed cuts before the end of the 1988-89 school year.

Not wanting students to be deprived of the opportunity to play and study music over the summer, he went to work. With a bit of luck and fast thinking, a plan to reinvent the class was born.

The district agreed to rent the band room at La Colina for a modest fee; Dr. Charles Wood of Santa Barbara City College accepted the position of camp director, and professional musicians were recruited to complete the teaching staff.  

Jocelyn Tipple leads The Nick Rail Summer Band Camp band. Click to view larger
Jocelyn Tipple leads The Nick Rail Summer Band Camp band. (SBEF photo)

Voila! The Nick Rail Summer Band Camp was born.

The primary goal was to offer band class during the summer, and the secondary goal was to make it as affordable as possible so that lower income students would have equal opportunity to participate.

Nick Rail Music has been privileged to support the camp since its inception, and both goals have been met each year.

Now in its 27th season, The Nick Rail Summer Band Camp has handed the baton over to the Santa Barbara Education Foundation.

Under the able and expert management of SBEF, the camp is guaranteed to be able to continue serving the musical needs of the Santa Barbara community’s youth for many years to come.

An end-of-camp performance will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 21, at First United Methodist Church. The community is invited to join in this celebration of the musical magic of the camp’s participating children.

For more information about The Nick Rail Summer Band Camp and the many other programs that SBEF supports, visit SantaBarbaraEducation.org.

— Courtney Jacqueline Wills is a program associate at the Santa Barbara Education Foundation.

 

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