DOBSON — Attending the Surry Traditional Music Camp made a dream come true for Ben Sain.
The 9-year-old had wanted to learn an instrument since he was five.
“This was my chance,” said Sain, who was one of 21 youngsters who spent the week at the Surry Community College-hosted camp.
For the past couple of years, the college has been expanding its services to children 16 and younger during the summer months.
The music camp was added this year.
Sonnie Hardy, who oversees personal enrichment classes, called it a “natural progression” emerging from the college’s involvement with old time music.
The Surry Old Time Fiddler’s Convention is held at the campus annually in April, adult music classes in banjo, fiddle and guitar added to the course catalog have been popular as well as a luthier class.
“We’re trying to find innovative ways to keep old time music alive and bring in a new generation,” said George Sappenfield, vice-president of corporate and continuing education.
“We pride ourselves here on being involved in the community and what’s important to the community, for example the wine industry and Surry County’s rich tradition in old-time music.”
The camp was funded through the Surry Community College Foundation, allowing for a $50 tuition per student to include instruction from 9 a.m. to noon July 25-29, instrument rental and a T-shirt.
Special guests dropped in throughout the week, such as well-known teenage musicians and old time music historian Paul Brown.
The week culminated with a performance for parents and guests and a pizza party.
“I think you’re going to be proud — I was,” Hardy remarked to the audience at the beginning of the show, noting that she had only heard the children play during individual instrument instruction during the week.
“When I came in to see rehearsal,” with the group all playing music, dancing and singing together, “it was almost emotional,” she said.
The performance showcased the young musician’s skills, many of which were newly developed, on banjo, guitar, fiddle, singing, flatfooting and square dancing.
“We weren’t sure what we could accomplish in a week but I think we’ve shown we could accomplish a lot,” Hardy said. “For students who had never touched an instrument to be able to play a song, and more than one song, we went far beyond expectation.”
Brea Hill, whose sons Camden, 6, and Carter, 10, are the grand-nephews of Tommy Jarrell, the camp was a way to introduce the boys to learning music without the pressure of formal lessons, “to submerge them but not overly submerge them,” she said. “It was a great ‘get their feet wet’ kind of thing.”
Hill said the brothers are hooked.
“Every night they came home talking about it and couldn’t wait to go back the next day,” she said.
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.