CHARLOTTE – George Ramsay wished there was a camp for music production when he was a teenager. In 2014, the Bold Music CEO created one.
Bold Music Camps is a music lover’s dream. Middle and high school musicians, singers and songwriters are given a unique, week-long opportunity to write, record and publish an original song under the supervision and guidance of industry experts and professionals in a real recording studio. The camp is held at two iconic Charlotte venues: The Evening Muse and Sioux Sioux Studio.
The pillars of each camp session are songwriting, music production and performance. Sessions are designed to foster creativity, collaboration and music expression among middle and high school students.
This is not your traditional music camp, program manager Kara Deir said.
“When you think of a traditional summer music camp, you think of band camp,” Deir said. “So you’re working on a set list of songs set by your band director. There’s a portfolio of music that’s been collected for you. You’re improving your own craft, but you don’t have the same level of creativity and collaboration that you have at this camp.”
Rather than working on a portfolio of songs, Deir and Ramsay said campers create their own music. In small groups, they learn how to work together and listen to each other’s perspectives to come up with an end product they can be proud of.
“A lot of times in the academic world that our kids live in, it’s about competing,” Deir said. “At our camp, it’s about collaborating. Not a lot of kids get that kind of experience.”
While traditional camps encourage teamwork and collaboration, Ramsay said Bold Music Camps adds another layer.
“There’s this aspect of creation,” Ramsay said. “Starting with nothing and spending a week together and creating a fully written, recorded, produced original song that is completely unique. The kids write it and record it.”
The only requirement is to have some experience with music, singing or songwriting. Ramsay said someone with no music experience at all might have trouble at the camp.
Campers attend Bold Music Camps from all over the Charlotte region, as far as Waxhaw and Huntersville. Like many other summer camps, Bold Music Camps brings campers together with a common interest, creating long-lasting friendships.
“You can meet kids from all over the city that share that interest and develop your own team,” Deir said. “And that’s a memory like any summer camp. The memories at summer camp can be very enduring, and that’s awesome as a parent.”
In addition to making memories, campers leave with a tangible memory as well. All of the music recorded at Bold Music Camps is uploaded to streaming services, such as Spotify and Apple Music, for campers to listen to and share.
Beyond that, Ramsay said experiencing the process of making music allows teenagers to step out of their comfort zones.
“Most people get into the collaborative setting, which is a really vulnerable thing to start pouring out your heart and creating something together,” Ramsay said. “Most people are shy and nervous, but they start to open up.”
One example of this, Ramsay and Deir said, was a shy, quiet student who took piano lessons throughout the year with Bold Music. They said she eventually discovered a love and talent for vocal performance and will perform at The Evening Muse with a newfound sense of confidence. Campers get the opportunity to perform their music live to an audience.
The camp also opens youths’ eyes to potential careers in music.
Ramsay said one of his students began playing drums at a young age but found a passion for producing music. Ramsay recently wrote a recommendation letter for the student to attend college with a major in audio engineering.
Ramsay said program and camp alumni have attended some of the best music colleges and conservatories in the country, such as Appalachian State University in Boone and Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.
Bold Music Camps will offer four sessions this summer: two for middle school students and two for high school students.
On the web: www.boldcamps.com.