By LAUREN MCDONALD firstname.lastname@example.org
Couches, chairs and tables had been cleared out of the dorm room, and the walls were bare of decorations.
Yet elbow room remained sparse in the small space, where an ensemble of musicians and their large, upright bass instruments were squeezed together, waiting for the cue to begin playing.
With a quick flick of the instructor's wrist, music erupted suddenly and the room was filled with the sounds of their rehearsal.
The Golden Isles Youth Orchestra's annual summer camp has taken over the Lakeside Village residence hall at College of Coastal Georgia this week.
Nearly 50 middle and high school students started camp Sunday. They have spent each day practicing their instruments, studying musical theory and rehearsing in small groups and as an entire orchestra.
"They're sleeping here, all the lessons are here, all the practice time is here," said Suzanne Morrison, the youth orchestra's manager.
Each day begins with a music lesson, which is followed by a music theory class. The campers then spend one hour practicing individually.
"They're improving their skills, they're improving their rehearsal techniques and they're getting to know each other better," Morrison said.
During the afternoon, the students move into ensemble coaching time, when they're scattered around the residence hall in brass groups, wind ensembles and mixed string quartets.
Throughout the week, music has floated through the halls of every floor in the dormitory, with campers and groups rehearsing in study lounges, bedrooms, bathrooms and any other open space that can be found.
The camp day ends with a group rehearsal, for which the students trek across campus with their instruments and come together to play in the college gym.
Thirteen instructors came from as far as North Carolina to teach at the camp.
"These kids are incredible," said Kristen Spiridon, a clarinet instructor. "The drive and the love they have for music is very evident, and to see in their eyes when they're able to do something, after getting a little help with it, is just pure joy."
Morrison said sponsors raised a great deal of money to make the camp affordable.
"The way the camp works is our donors raise a lot of money and subsidize the camp," she said. "It costs $500 to $600 a kid, just to be here. And they pay $100."
The students are learning and practicing the music with which they will audition for their spot in this year's orchestra, Morrison said. They are also beginning rehearsals for the music they will play throughout the year.
"They have to want to be here," she said. "It's too much work at this camp — this is an intensive camp, they're playing music all day — to not want to be here. And they're very eager for it."
Isabelle Zantow, a rising eighth grader at Glynn Middle School, has played the cello for nearly four years. But she participated in her first GIYO camp this week. She will soon be auditioning to join the orchestra this school year.
"I want to do more advanced music than I've already done," she said, propping up an instrument case that very nearly matched her in height.
Other students were camp veterans. Morrison said every camper participating had been playing their instruments for at least two years.
Gabrielle Riddick, a rising junior at Glynn Academy, returned for her fourth summer at the camp this week. Every year, she said, she receives the instruction needed to succeed in her performances throughout the year.
"It makes you work hard," Riddick said.
Morrison welcomes the community to attend a casual concert the campers and their instructors will perform tonight at the college's conference center auditorium.
The "Night at Music Camp" performance is free and will start at 7 p.m.
Photo by Bobby Haven of The Brunswick News
Bass players play during ensemble practice at the annual Golden Isles Youth Orchestra camp at the College of Coastal Georgia Lakeside Village residence hall.