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Singing Campers

IVEN a short-term educational

By ROBERT RUBIN
Director, Camp Henry
Henry Street Settlement

camp with a succession of groups of underprivileged boys ranging in age from eight to fifteen years-boys of various nationalities, color and religion-is it possible to introduce a program of really good music which the boys will accept and enjoy?

It was to answer this question that we tried our experiment, and the result has been a music program the content of which most camp directors would declare impossible of success.

Up to 1934 music at this camp was very much like that found at most others. College songs, parodies, humorous songs and yells made up the repertoire. Songs such as "I Wish I Were Single Again," "Old MacDonald Had a Farm," "It Ain't Gonna Rain No More," and others of similar nature were called camp music. The concept of interpretation, of melody, of lasting worth, was never considered. The sole purpose was to offer simple songs which might be quickly sung by the group.

Pleasant Surprises

The campers of the summer of 1934 found to their amazement two junior counselors, not much older than themselves, who played a violin and a cello. They learned that these young men, along with the music counselor, comprised a trio and that they were there to play whenever the opportunity presented itself. Not only was the trio an innovation, but new songs were to be taught and sung at a definite period each day. The words of each song were lettered on a large sheet of paper which made an easily readable chart. At first the thought came to mind that this formality and these songs would end any spontaneity in singing and that the failure to use simple, humorous songs would be a real loss which the campers would feel. But to the amazement of everyone it was discovered that there were songs included in the chart which were just as humorous, gleeful and full of fun as those eliminated, yet they were rich in

content.

When the campers became aware that "The Frog Went ACourting" and "Good Little

Cricket" were lots of fun to sing, there was no stopping them. The older campers favored "Wraggle Taggle Gypsies" and "Rolling Down to Rio," along with the "Zuni Sun

set Song" and others.

When the campers' enthusiasm had been won, the rest was comparatively easy sailing. The campers learned the songs by rote and sang in unison. The leaders were always ready to adapt the choice of songs to the interest shown by each successive group. The songs used were varied in character, simple and tuneful, and they were presented in an interesting variety. No song was added to the chart unless it had significance and had proven its worth throughout many years. Songs such as the English "Keys of Canterbury," the French "On the Bridge of Avignon," the Czech "Shine Upon Me, Golden Sunlight," the Italian "The Wheelbarrow Loaders," and the Kentucky mountain "Swapping Songs" are examples. Perhaps the following picture will bring out the thought more clearly.

Procedures and Outcomes

Because of the camp set-up the music period was conducted immediately after the rest period which followed lunch, although a more desirable time would have been in the morning. The campers gathered in the play house and seated themselves in a semicircle facing the chart and piano. Two campers were given the privilege of turning the sheets of the chart. The music counselor was at the piano, and when all the campers were seated he began to play. Before the music period he had prepared a plan of procedure so he knew exactly the order of the songs. The campers sang in unison, and a reflection of the meaning of the songs was evident on their faces. Occasionally one of the campers led the singing. The music session, though definitely scheduled for all the campers, was entirely informal in spirit.

The purpose of the writer in preparing this material has been to share with the practical camp director an experiment in music for the camp program which has been successful for three summers.

After four or five songs had been sung, the music counselor announced that the trio would play, say, the Beethoven "Minuet" in G. Highbrow stuff? Not at all! The selection was something the children were eager to

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hear because the music counselor the night before had told them some very interesting and vital stories about Beethoven's wonderful inner powers despite his deafness, and the campers were curious and interested to hear what this composer had written.

One music counselor, asked to explain his work at the camp, said:

"The music situation this year remains fundamentally unchanged. The songs which have been sung here for the past two seasons are used, and in addition a number of Negro spirituals and folk songs not previously used have been introduced. The trio, now an institution at this camp, play the music of the great masters and solos are rendered on occasion by the violinist, the cellist and the pianist. During the two weeks' stay of each group an operetta is produced by the campers, the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, "Pinafore" and "The Pirates of Penzance" being used. At least ten boys participated in these.

"The musical activity is broadened by the telling of stories concerning music and musicians and by listening to suitable radio programs. The children like the music. This is evidenced by the spontaneous singing of the newly learned songs at every opportunity. The Negro spirituals are especially popular. On particularly hot days the music hour is conducted under a tree on the campus. On such occasions no instrumental music is used. However, at each outdoor session a violin or cello solo is played.

"Our aim is essentially realized. The children are given a variety and breadth of musical experience, and some insight into how composers work and what inspires them. These activities show classical music to be a logical and rational development of folk music, and folk music is shown to be a definite reflection of the lives of the nations producing it. Thus the power of reinterpretation. of the folk songs by the campers is greatly aug

NAME OF SONG
A-Roving

Coasts of High Barbary
Keys of Canterbury
Wraggle Taggle Gypsies O!

All God's Chillun Got Wings
Go Down Moses

It's Me O Lord

Little David Play on Yo' Harp Swing Low Sweet Chariot Water Boy

mented. An indication of the interest aroused was given when a boy who had been at camp during the summer mailed to me a clipping concerning a composer and explained that the stories he had heard at camp had acted as the incentive to his seeking further stories about musicians."

There was more to the music program than the learning of certain songs. For some children this was the first time they had been exposed to good music. Although the exact effect the music hour made on the children cannot be measured objectively, there seems to have been a definite result obtained. For example, the campers sang the folk songs not only during the music hour but also during their camp work, their shack clean-up and on their bus trips home, all this singing being spontaneous and real.

Two Questions and Answers

Two questions arise. "Why have a formal music hour?" "Does this music program presuppose the complete displacement of the better traditional camp songs?"

In answer to the first question it may be said that in a short-term camp certain freer educational methods of procedure must be waived for practical results. It would have been far better to have had attendance at the music session optional. Such a process, however, though educationally sound, would have taken in only a limited number of children, and before the rest became interested their short vacation would have ended.

In reply to the second question, it may be said that the better traditional camp songs, associated as they are with happy camp memories, should not be too suddenly eliminated. It is strongly felt, however, that the new folk songs with their superior quality will gradually assume greater significance in the minds of the campers, and as these songs become associated with camp experience, they will become the traditional songs.

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"Ride a Cock Horse"

T

HE HORSE may be permanently displaced on the highways by the "horseless carriage," but in a number of recreation departments and among private groups it is coming back into its own on shaded bridle paths with the formation of riding clubs as an integral part of a program of recreational and social activities.

A Recreation Department Club

The Wyoming Valley Equestrian Club was organized in the city of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, in June 1933, under the direction of the Playground and Recreation Association of Wyoming Valley. The club was initiated by a group of five girls who wished to ride, but found the horses and equipment available unsatisfactory and the price too high.

These girls, in an attempt to solve the problem, visited many farms and so-called academies and, finally, a proud possessor of three horses was found who said he would buy another horse or two and give a fifty percent reduction in the current price if he could be guaranteed at least ten riders a week. Each interested person then persuaded a friend to ride a horse at least once. This "friend-ask-friend" system, coupled with pictures of local people in smart habits and articles in the newspapers, launched the club on its way to more than a hundred members. As the interest in the club increased, commercial riding academies started to grow overnight with a vast improvement in equipment and horses. Today there are eight academies in and about Wyoming Valley, each owning from ten to fifty horses.

The object of the club is to stimulate and encourage interest in riding and to bring together in

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advance. The qualifications of a rider and the rules governing such a ride are very strict. Each person participating is instructed in the proper care of horses and is personally responsible for his or her mount. It is very often necessary to use horses from more than one academy, and because of the number of miles covered good horsemanship plays a large part in this activity.

The Wyoming Valley Equestrian Club has a girls' and a boys' polo team. The difficulty in securing good polo ponies and the reluctance of commercial academies in renting horses for this purpose handicaps this activity to a great extent. As yet the club itself does not own horses, but five or six individual members have bought them.

A County Stable

Owned and operated by the Union County Park Commission, the Watchung Riding Stable provides a rich and varied program of activities for riders. It is located on the main bridle trail in the Watchung Reservation which has over twenty-two miles of well-kept bridle paths. At the stable a new and enlarged lighted ring permits riding during the early evening hours. An excellent outside jumping course is located on the grounds and is available to horse owners in the vicinity. The stable is also equipped with an attractive club room which the patrons are welcome to use at any time.

The Park Commission owns seventeen school horses which are hired out, on all days, at $1.50 per hour. A book of riding tickets is sold for $10.00 and gives the buyer $12.00 worth of rides, thereby reducing the hourly rate to $1.25. Ten 'new horses were purchased during 1936 to meet

an increased demand. The stable accommodates fifty horses. Individual instruction in horseback riding is offered at $1.50 per hour. Organized classes of eight or more riders are given free instruction.

During late spring and in the summer months the stable is open on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings for business people and others who have no time to ride during the day. Moonlight rides and other activities are arranged for regular patrons from time to time.

An annual horse show is held in June. The tenth annual show, on June 6th and 7th of last year; attracted 1,500 spectators and included thirty-seven classes and 203 entries. It was the first year that a two-day show had been held. A gymkhana is staged each fall for regular riders of the Watchung Stable. The fourth annual show, held on October 17th of this year, included nine classes for horsemanship, saddlehorses, bridle path hacks, a sweepstakes for open jumping, and mounted games.

An annual endurance ride is held over a tenmile course on the bridle trails, in the Watchung Reservation. The ride proves of great interest not only to those having horses entered but to a large number of spectators as well.

Particular attention has been paid to the organization of groups of riders by T. N. Tully, Manager of the Stable. These include the Watchung Rangers, Watchung Girls' Troop, a Boys' and Girls' Riding Club, a women's riding class, and various school groups.

The Watchung Rangers are a group of boys of varying ages who ride on Saturday mornings. (Continued on page 112)

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