Encouraging self-expression through Art and Music

Pottery Class at Studio Arts Boulder

Pottery Class. (Photo: Studio Arts Boulder).

Art and music camps and programs at places like Rocky Ridge Music, Studio Arts Boulder and pARTiculars help students build their confidence in being creative and innovative.

“Sometimes to express yourself can be scary because you’re putting yourself out there,” said SoYoung Lee, executive director of Rocky Ridge Music, 465 Longs Peak Rd., in Estes Park. “We create a safe environment and ample opportunities for students to perform in a casual setting, so they don’t feel intimidated performing and expressing themselves.”

Rocky Ridge Music, a nonprofit founded in 1942 in Estes Park, started as a summer residential music camp focused on teaching piano. The music camp operates in the summer with sessions five days to four weeks in woodwinds, strings, piano and composition for all ages from middle school to adult. There are also year-round programs, master classes, college prep study and a pedagogy series. 

Originally, the teachings at the summer camp were in classical music, but six years ago jazz was added, followed by mariachi two years ago and beginning strings last year. Jumpstart for Strings teaches students the fundamentals of playing open strings and holding and tuning the instrument and gives them an opportunity for ensemble playing.

“This is an educational program not just for the students but for the parents, so they can support the students,” Lee said. “They need to have an instrument and a nice place to practice.” 

The Summer College Intensive Program is geared toward advanced students who want to develop their solo instrument and chamber music skills and build their careers in music. 

“Everything is on-site, meals, lessons, rehearsals and concerts,” Lee said. “We still have a retreat-like feel whenever you enter the campus. It’s a very serene, supportive place.”

Students attending the camps are at all levels of skill from beginner to advanced and are interested in simply learning about music or making it a career.

“What we like to see is not necessarily creating professional musicians, but taking what they learn and applying it in other fields,” Lee said. “It has to do with the fact you’re developing different parts of the brain. You’re also engaging your heart and your feelings.”

Studio Arts Boulder is a nonprofit education organization that offers ceramic programs to all ages in a community studio setting.

Starting this summer, the nonprofit will offer summer camps at all three of its facilities, including the newest at 3750 Canfield St. scheduled to open this spring. The camps will include printmaking with lessons in block carving and cyanotypes, ceramic hand-building using low-fire clay to create functional pottery and creative sculpture, and wheel-throwing, trimming and glazing pottery. The camps are offered half-day for five days and are for ages 6-16.

“We feel like everybody should be making art and has a right to. We work hard to provide a safe and supportive environment to do so,” said Aaron Winston, artistic director of Studio Arts Boulder.

Studio Arts Boulder was founded in 2009 to create Sterling Circle, a campus that houses different art studios and art forms that require an investment of equipment and space, including pottery, metal and blacksmithing, glass and wood. The nonprofit took over the Pottery Lab in 2015 from the City of Boulder to teach ceramic classes there and is opening a new campus for additional classes and camps in ceramics, wood, metal, printmaking and glass. The nonprofit also offers adult programs, youth and family programs, workshops, date nights and private parties.

pARTiculars Art Summer Camps

pARTiculars Art Summer Camps. (Photo: pARTiculars).

“Our whole mission is to be an arts education facility,” Winston said. “The whole purpose of our existence is artistic expression.” 

Lafayette-based arts cooperative pARTiculars is an artist-run gallery and classroom space, where summer camps are offered for youth and adult art classes are held year-round with space for teens.

“As a cooperative in general, part of our statement is to bring art into the community and bring our community into being part of art. We are getting the community involved in artmaking, and kids want to be part of that,” said Jeanne Hougen, co-owner of pARTiculars Art Gallery & Teaching Studio, 401 S. Public Rd.

The pARTiculars Art Summer camps, which are taught by professional artists, are for four days and are divided into two age groups, 8 to 11 and 11 to 14. This summer, the camp topics will include building and decorating dollhouses, making dollhouse miniatures, drawing and painting, and for the older kids, bookmaking and art journaling, and the younger kids, multimedia.

“None of our things are curriculum-driven. They’re all kids doing their art. We’re giving them some ideas and things and encouraging them to take that and run with it,” Hougen said. “Creativity increases math and problem-solving skills. It opens up that right side of the brain and gets that active.”

By Shelley Widhalm, Raised in the Rockies