Auburn mother Jean Spicer hesitated when her 9-year-old son asked if he could go to Nashville to attend a rock-band camp. “We thought he was too young to go off to a week-long camp so far away, especially since the camp seemed more edgy and focused on hard rock,” she says. “We weren’t sure that the environment would be what we wanted for him at that age.”
Several years later in 2008, the family sat at the breakfast table, reflected on the experience and discussed how Auburn needed a camp for young musicians. Jean’s husband, Tom, played a variety of instruments in several bands over a 25-year period, and both sons were musical as well, so they felt qualified. “We decided to start a camp similar to the one our son wanted to go to years ago, with an emphasis on providing a wholesome environment that would encourage positive attitudes and healthy choices,” she says.
That summer the Spicers gathered instruments, invited students and started Spicer’s Garage Band Camp in the garage of their home. “We had an overwhelmingly positive response the first year, so we expanded the next year to serve twice as many children and youth,” says Jean.
The camp has since outgrown the garage and is now held at Lee Scott Academy. But the name has remained the same. “The term implies a group of musicians who come together for the sheer joy of playing music with friends,” she says. “Lots of bands start out this way, and some go on to play professionally.”
Spicer’s Garage Band Camp is a family endeavor, and everyone is involved. Tom is the director and teaches bass. Jean organizes registration and handles administrative duties. Son Tim is the lead camp instructor and teaches guitar and vocals. Their other son Corey teaches drums and keyboard and leads small group activities. They’ve also hired two talented musicians, Sam Price and Nikita Miller, to teach vocals and guitar. Instructors can also teach violin, saxophone and mandolin, which have been included in the past.
At camp, students are divided into bands, ensuring a balance of instruments and vocalists. They choose a band name and create a logo. Then they select songs they want to learn that week from a master list of current rock and pop songs. They also work together with their band to compose their own pieces. Campers receive individual and group instruction on their instruments and on playing with their band. Staff members coach singing, song writing and stage performance as well. Sessions are a week long and at the end of each, a concert is held onstage with professional sound equipment and lighting.
“Music means everything to me, and band camp is where I met my friends, and we are now a band!” says Stuart Scott Bell, 11, who attended camp last year for the first time.
Twelve-year-old Ben Olive, drummer with the band No Refunds, says, “Spicer’s Garage Band Camp gave me a chance to be a part of a band, and I learned how to work things out when you are part of one.”
Parents join in their kids’ enthusiasm. “I will tell you that as a parent we have been very impressed by the amount of fun students have at camp. Because (daughter) Sally attended three summers in a row, we were able to really see how several of the campers grew and matured as performers and musicians from year to year,” says Lanette Fargason.
The main focus of the camp is obviously music, but the Spicers try to incorporate life lessons as well. “We strive to be positive role models, and we encourage campers to believe in themselves and to make good choices in life,” says Jean. “We teach them that hard work and practice will pay off in the development of a talent that they can share with others and find great joy in throughout life.”
The family agrees one of the most rewarding aspects of camp is to see young musicians join school bands and choirs, participate in church worship bands and create their own bands after they’ve attended camp. “We love the fact that we are helping develop the next generation of musicians and music lovers,” says Jean. “And we want Auburn to become known as a great community for supporting music.”
2012 Summer Camp Schedule: June 4-8 and June 11-15. The Rock Band Camp is for ages 8-18, and the Praise Band Camp is 12-18. Friday night concerts which are free and open to the public are held in the Lee Scott auditorium. Concert dates are June 8 and 15 at 7 p.m. EAL
For more information visit
spicersgaragebandcamp.com, email email@example.com or call 334.821.1645.