Gretsch Family Supports Arts Camp for Schoolkids

August 25, 2009

Today's economic climate has resulted in a dramatic decrease in funding for early education. Programs across the country have been slashed, particularly in the area of arts education. Yet exposure to the arts has been proven to be a critical element in the intellectual and emotional development of young children.

Recognizing this fact, Fred and Dinah Gretsch, owners of Gretsch Musical Instruments in Savannah, Georgia, recently took extraordinary steps to ensure that the children of Savannah were given an opportunity to experience and participate in the creative arts. ⨠â¨With the help of generous support from the Gretsch company, the 2009 Gretsch Institute Music, Art & Dance Camp was held on the campus of the Savannah Country Day School from June 8 through July 3.

This unique camp offered rising 2nd through 8th graders an opportunity to expand their creativity and their artistic skills through an inspiring multi-dimensional arts curriculum. Small-group settings paired students with talented artists, musicians, and instructors during four one-week sessions of full or half-day camp.

Campers found intrigue, fascination, and fun in a variety of traditional and eclectic courses, including Beginning Guitar, Beginning Suzuki Strings, Collage Crazy, Claying Around (pottery), Green Sculpture, Painting, Painting With Fabric, Paper Sculpture, Jewelry-Beads & Enameling, World Masks, Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance, Gotta Act!, and Musical Theater.

In addition to the class programs, throughout each week campers enjoyed Midday Music concerts followed by question-and-answer sessions with professional musicians.

Gretsch's support was a key element in the success of this unique arts camp. Says program coordinator Josceline Reardon, "For the past two years, generous donations from the Gretsch Foundation have made it possible for Savannah Country Day School to offer a summer arts camp to the Savannah community at large. We had over seventy students in attendance this year throughout the four weeks of camp. With Gretsch's support, we were able to award more than $4,300 in scholarships." Those scholarships made attendance at the camp possible for kids who would otherwise never have been able to afford it.

Camp instructor Molly Lieberman reflects on the experience that she shared with the campers, saying, "The Gretsch Institute was a wonderful way to work with a small group of children in a relaxed setting. That setting allowed us to explore the world of art, and to build a fluency with materials. This exploration and fluency are invaluable, because they help children to understand our world, how we relate to it, and what we can make in response to it."

Josceline Reardon adds, "Students were enthusiastic about taking courses in a variety of areas that they may not have otherwise been exposed to during the school year. We had a creative bunch of campers this summer. They especially enjoyed the new additions like Green Sculpture and Mask Making. Beginning Guitar and Beginning Orchestra were also among the favorites returning from last summer. We look forward to continuing our relationship with the Gretsch family and building upon the program in years to come."

The Gretsch Institute Music, Art & Dance Camp is only one of several educational and arts initiatives in which Fred and Dinah Gretsch are involved. Others include The Gretsch Foundation, which contributes unique guitars to organizations that promote music participation. The guitars are then auctioned off in order to aid those organizations with their fundraising efforts.

"The Gretsch family has been making great drums and guitars for 125 years," says Fred Gretsch. "I represent the fourth generation of that family, and over those generations we've come to understand how important it is to get kids involved with music-and, indeed, with all the arts-at an early age. It makes a major difference in their lives. We're pleased to be able to contribute toward making that difference."

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