The Arts

One Time at Band Camp…


UW–Madison Archives, SO5200

This is perhaps the most casual-looking canoeing tuba player we’ve ever seen. Granted, he’s the only canoeing tuba player we’ve ever seen. The serenade took place during Summer Music Clinic (SMC), an eighty-six-year-old UW-Madison program.

Opened in 1929, the clinic began as a three-week camp for teachers. “The teachers in those days didn’t have the opportunity for learning and preparation that exists today,” said Orien Dalley, the initial director, according to an SMC anniversary report. During the clinic’s second year, students attended along with teachers, and eventually the programming focused entirely on middle- and high-school students.

Today the camp sees around 850 students each year — a number that has held strong since Anne Aley took over as SMC’s outreach program manager in 1983.

So what’s kept this camp going? “I think it’s the community that is formed in making music together,” Aley says. “It really is that feeling that you’re part of something greater.”

This sense of community inspires many campers to return as counselors and eventually to become Badgers. Since 2006, approximately 62 percent of campers applied to the UW, and about fifty students per year are accepted and enroll.

Since it began, SMC has hosted more than eighty thousand students — each leaving with a new set of musical skills and memories. As for the two campers in the tuba-canoe, we just hope they made it to wherever they were going without capsizing.

Published in the Summer 2015 issue


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