- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 27, 2016

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - Elaina Blankenship drew a bow across the strings of her violin, sounding out the notes of the “Star Wars” theme song.

She has been playing the violin for seven years, but she said there is always more to learn.

Elaina, 11, is one of 17 students participating this week in the University of Alabama Community Music School summer strings camp at the Alberta School of Performing Arts.

The one-week camp consists of 10 middle school students and seven high school students who act as their mentors.

At the end of the week on Friday, the camp will conclude with a concert held in the Alberta school’s auditorium. The children’s theater camp will also perform “Alice in Wonderland Junior.”



Both performances are free and open to the public.

The middle and high school students will play movie theme songs - “Star Wars,” ”Titanic,” ”Forrest Gump” and “Jurassic Park” — together, and the high school students will play the more challenging theme songs to “Mission Impossible” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

Throughout the week, they learn to play these songs together as an ensemble, including all string instruments — the violin, viola, cello or bass.

Ellen Grant, who teaches violin at Alabama, said the kids learn about rhythm, pitch and how to play in an ensemble. They also learn about proper posture and bow grip. She said the camp also provides a way for them to socialize with kids who have similar interests.

“It’s just a way for them to learn and have some fun as well,” Grant said.

But director of the music school, Jane Weigel, said it’s not just a fun way of learning. She said the benefits of music and other art forms will carry into other aspects of the kids’ lives.

She said having lessons in the arts helps with building confidence and making friends and learning teamwork, how to express yourself and how to meet short- and long-term goals, among other things.

“I think music and theater — arts in general — serve our basic need for expression,” she said. “In general, it teaches us the life skills we need to be successful in all of our academia and the workforce.”

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Information from: The Tuscaloosa News, https://www.tuscaloosanews.com

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