Virtual Arts 2020

Sunday, August 16, 2020

As our virtual arts project comes to an end, we are proud to present this virtual choir performance of “Canterbury Lane”.  Thanks to everyone who participated in the project and to all of you for staying connected with us throughout this season!

Saturday, August 15, 2020

In a virtual performance, Blue Lake faculty and staff members sing H. Owen Reed's "Michigan Morn", conducted by Dr. Steven Hankle and accompanied by Dr. Wan-Chin Chang. The signature selection from Reed's folk-opera, "Michigan Dream", the song is traditionally performed on the final Saturday of each camp session as part of Blue Lake's Summer Arts Festival.  

Friday, August 14, 2020

Congratulations to the featured performers for Blue Lake’s 2020 Virtual Talent Show: Anisha Kolambe, Luke Magee, Miranda McKee, and Madeline Steck!  Check out their performances below:

Anisha Kolambe presents a music and film-making combination integrating the iconic "Le Coucou" composition by Louis Claude Daquin with an imaginary story of the origins of the cuckoo clock.

Luke Magee performs J.S. Bach's Prelude and Fugue In A Minor, BWV 543.

Miranda McKee performs "Feel It Still" by Portugal. The Man.

Madeline Steck performs "Gimme Gimme" from Thoroughly Modern Millie.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Curator David Bower gives a brief history of the organ and shows us the centerpiece of the Instrument Museum's keyboard room.

After Steppenwolf had to cancel all the shows on stage around mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, Steppenwolf Education quickly pivoted to virtual programming to continue serving their constituents—teens, educators, and early career professionals—and the community at large. Since launching in late March, their virtual programs have reached thousands of people worldwide. Check out their video recordings, lesson plans, and creative challenges.

Steppenwolf Virtual Programs

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Dr. Caitlin explains how to create and use an image list when writing.

One of our Art Department Co-Directors: Katherine Suender, would like to share that the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center has a great resource for the summer artist at home! The BBAC wants to challenge all ages to make art within your surroundings & with everyday things that you have at home. 

Art Challenge

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Dr. Wan-Chin Chang presents a video on posture at the piano. This is the last in her series for the summer. Watch and see how you can improve your playing with some simple steps to better posture!

Blue Lake violin faculty member Igor Kalnin presents a virtual recital reflecting on the development of solo violin music in the span of three centuries, including the Blue Lake premiere of a solo piece by the Catalan composer and conductor Salvador Brotons, one of the conductors of the Blue Lake Festival Orchestra.

Please enjoy this recording of the recital, originally presented live on Sunday, July 26, 2020.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Blue Lake clarinet instructor Dr. David Cook answers some commonly asked questions about the clarinet.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Dr. Elaine Bastos from Blue Lake's violin faculty gives a short lesson on beginning vibrato.

Please join Blue Lake Public Radio at this morning between 9:30 and 10:00am for our final Classics in the Jazzroom broadcast featuring The Count Basie Orchestra performing “Nice N’ Easy” from their 1963 Grammy Award winning album “This Time By Basie.” 

Selected by Blue Lake Faculty member James Sawyer, this Quincy Jones arrangement personifies the iconic jazz orchestra’s wide dynamic range, brilliant soloists and finger snapping swing. Doc Sawyer writes:

The Count Basie Orchestra has long been considered the “Rolls Royce of Big Bands.” In the 1930’s the band performed arrangements such as “One O’Clock Jump” and “Jumpin’ at the Woodside”, which were considered “head arrangements: songs mostly made up of riffs which captured the imagination of its audiences and communicated the spirit of the band. These were fast, high-flying arrangements that also featured solos by their outstanding musicians. This carried the band through the war years and beyond.

Basie reorganized the group in 1952 to what has been commonly called “The New Testament Orchestra.” This brought a new line of arrangers such as Neal Hefti, Sammy Nestico, Thad Jones and Quincy Jones. With it came a different style of orchestrations, demonstrating the band’s dynamic contrast, articulate precision and sophisticated musical style.

“Nice N’ Easy” is from the 1963 Grammy-winning album “This Time by Basie”. Arranged and conducted by Quincy Jones, the album returned the orchestra to the pop charts just prior to British Invasion that brought bands like The Beatles to America.

It begins big and loud, then suddenly descends to a low, subtle volume. It continues soft, intermittently infusing flashes of the big sassy brass sound the Basie Orchestra has long been known for. I selected this piece because of how it showcases the vibrant versatility of the Basie Orchestra to play big and loud, then soft and easy within the same arrangement. It was the personification of this iconic jazz orchestra along with the light tinkling of the ivories by Basie at precisely arranged intervals.

Personnel on this pacesetting album included trumpeters Sonny Cohn and Thad Jones; trombonist Urbie Green; saxophonists Frank Foster and Frank Wess who was a well known flute virtuoso; and the timeless rhythm section of guitarist Freddie Green, bassist Buddy Catlett, drummer Sonny Payne and of course the Count himself.

Classics in the Classroom Jazz
Count Basie

Friday, August 7, 2020

Alumni Spotlight: James Carter

Who are you now, and background?

My name is James Carter, I was born January 3, 1969, the youngest of five children(2 brothers & 2 sisters) with musical inclinations of varying degrees.  My brothers pursued music professionally and were my prime inspiration in my early years. In addition to my siblings, I also have a host of cousins and various other members of the family that are involved in music and the arts that provided my artistic environment. 

What is your art?

I am a woodwind performing and recording artist, bandleader, composer, lecturer and teacher (class & private).

When did you attend Blue Lake?

My inaugural year I attended Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in the Summer of 1983 when there were still tents(with flaps that needed shutting at all times) and I had a great time, met new friends and grew exponentially during my time at BLFAC!  I attended BLFAC from 1983-1987. The years1983 and 1984, I was a camper and played in the Blue and Gold Jazz bands under directors Bob Nixon and Richard Goldsworthy.  In 1984, I interviewed by Kelly Bucheger and accepted for the International Exchange Program of 1985and at the age of 16. I went on my first European Tour under the direction of Bill McFarlin. During this tour, I received a call from President Fritz Stansell to join the BLFAC faculty big band the Blue Lake Monster upon returning from the tour which I stayed on sessions 3 and 4.  After those sessions, we undertook a tour of Europe with the Monster with Detroit late greats trumpeter Marcus Belgrave and Pianist Harold McKinney.   For the years 1985-87, I served on BLFAC faculty in the capacity of tenor saxist with the Monster, improv/jazz theory, sax sectionals and instrumental demonstrator at the Gilbert Stansell Museum!

Where are you now?

In the midst of the global Covid pandemic and social upheavals, I've been spending the time at home with family making sure our unit is intact and aware of what's going on in our society today and remaining as optimistic as possible that we as collective humankind will get through this very rough patch and be better humans to one another on the other side!!

Why Blue Lake?

Because of BLFAC, I've been able to experience the best of camp life with a great and unmatched artistic curriculum with grand faculty ready to help you attain the next level in your artistry and personal growth!  Long Live BLFAC!!

Interesting read:

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Curator David Bower gives a brief history of the saxophone and shows off the Instrument Museum's collection.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Dynamic control exercises with Dr. Wan-Chin Chang, Blue Lake's Piano Department Chair. Please join her as she explains this important tool for performing.

For this week's Writing Wednesday, Dr. Caitlin Cowan explains how to use recordings to let your voice be your guide.

Writing Wednesday August 5 2020

When we write, we often allow the sounds that words make to echo only in our head. Sometimes we labor over which word is the “right” word solely based on what we think or feel rather than what we hear. But sometimes our hearts, lungs, mouths, and tongues know the right word before we do. By the same turn, sometimes we write bland, boring poems, but when asked to describe the situation of the poem or its inspiration, we are able to recount dazzling details and narratives. Allowing your breath and voice to be your guides can be an incredible drafting strategy, and that’s what I’d like to share with you today.

Poetry doesn’t necessarily have to sound “poetic,” a word that you might associate with old-timey language, rhyme, or full of abstract nouns like “love” and “dreams” and “loneliness.” Sometimes poetry is simply full of the music of the way people actually speak or contains a strange and unique music all its own. Recording yourself can help you learn about what music your words naturally have. 

For this exercise, find a quiet spot in your home or outside: anywhere you feel comfortable talking aloud in privacy. Then, use your phone’s built-in voice memos, a tape recorder, or a computer to capture your words. What should you talk about? That’s up to you! Here are some ideas that are based on Blue Lake experiences. Even if you haven’t yet spent a summer at BLFAC, the final idea will be a great place to start! 

    1. Write a story from the perspective of a building or practice site on Blue Lake’s campus. What does the building see, hear, feel? Then, halfway through the story, switch to writing the story from the perspective from a tree, an instrument, a deer, or a fictional Blue Lake camper!
    2. Start a list of sensory details for a poem: smells, tastes, and other sensations that accompany your favorite summer memories at camp or on an International tour. Once you record the details, try to connect them into lines half-a-page long when you transcribe.
    3. Work toward a personal essay about what being a Blue Laker has meant to you. Right now, all over the world, people are turning to art to help pass the time, comfort themselves, and entertain. Why do you think this is? Why is art important to you? Do you think it is important for all people to experience? Why or why not?
    4. Never been to Blue Lake but hope to spend a summer here soon? Try writing a haibun about what you hope to experience at camp. A haibun is a paragraph of writing in essay-like sentences. Then, at the end of the paragraph, compose a haiku (a poem of three lines containing 5, then 7, then 5 lines) that accompanies the sentences you just wrote. This can be a summary of what you’ve just written or a new thought entirely. Record your stream-of-consciousness thoughts for the prose part, then try to write the haiku later on after you’ve transcribed your thoughts.

Then, after you record yourself, let some time pass, then try to accurately transcribe what you hear using a pen or a computer, being as faithful as possible to your own natural pauses and breath. Don’t worry too much about aestheticizing your work (which means making it “sound” like art) until later on, after you’ve transcribed everything and are ready to revise.

If you’re interested in further reading about writing that has a unique voice, check out Patrick Rosal’s poem, “B-Boy Infinitives”; e.e. cummings’ poem, “next to of course god America I”; Hart Crane’s poem, “Chaplinesque”; and Elizabeth Acevedo’s poem, “Spear.”

Feel free to post your experiments and  results in the comments or on social media with the hashtags #WritingWednesdays, #BlueLakeFineArtsCamp, and #VirtualArts

Thanks for reading this VirtualArts post brought to you by Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp!

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Blue Lake bassoon faculty Jim Jeter performs 'Valsa improvisada' (Improvised Waltz) by Brazilian composer Francisco Mignone. One of 16 Waltzes that Mignone wrote between 1979 and 1981 for the French bassoonist Noel Devos, who was a close friend living in Rio de Janeiro. The waltzes are reminiscent of strolling serenaders and the popular music of Brazilian cabarets around Rio. Very romantic and soulful works in waltzes - this is quite virtuosic for the bassoon.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Join Blue Lake's Theater Faculty as they bring you another thrilling adventure on Mystery Thriller Theater: Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Diamond Tiara, adapted and directed by David Taylor Little.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

In case you missed it in last week's #CanterburyLaneChallenge, here's an encore presentation of "From Canterbury Lane" arranged for string quartet. Featuring the Canterbury Quartet: Chi Young Song, Amanda Wilton, Josquin Larsen, and Suren Petrosyan.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Classics in the Jazzroom 
9:30-10:00am on Blue Lake Public Radio at 

Big bands in the 1970's amped up the energy. This week on Classics in the Jazzroom, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp faculty member Dave Jensen suggests you tune in to Blue Lake Public Radio between 9:30 and 10:00 am to hear trombonist Bill Watrous lead his band Manhattan Wildlife Refuge in a classic of 1970's era big band jazz, "The Tiger of San Pedro." Featuring the Fender Rhodes electric piano sound and a stratospheric trumpet solo from Danny Stiles, this 1975 Joe LaBarbera composition captures the zeitgeist of the decade.

Dave writes: "I chose this recording as a shining example of the direction that Big Bands headed in the 1970's. Referred to at the time as the "modern big band sound," the energy and drive was unprecedented. Other bandleaders of the time include Maynard Ferguson, Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, and others. The opening piano is the timeless "Fender Rhodes," an iconic sound of the decade. The highlight in my opinion is Danny Stiles' KILLER trumpet solo! This piece has stood the test of time and is frequently performed today by jazz bands and marching bands."

Bill Watrous
Classics in the Classroom Jazz

Friday, July 31, 2020

Alumni Spotlight: Charles Paul

My name is Charles Paul, I am Double Bassist of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, I attended the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University for both a Bachelors and Masters degree in Music Performance and I am from Detroit, Michigan. I attended Blue Lake in 2007, 2008, and 2009. I studied both Tuba and Jazz Bass as a camper and Blue Lake is a place very dear to me as a starting point for my love of making music. The experience of being surrounded by campers who all had a passion for the arts is what inspired me to seek a career in which my colleagues and friends are musicians who love to make music. Thank you so much Blue Lake!!

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Curator David Bower gives an "inside" look at some of the museum's keyboard instruments.

Have you ever wanted to compose for the Harp?  Our harp coordinator at Blue Lake, Jacqueline Pollauf (artist's link:  recommends this Composing for the Harp Website with all kinds of fun things for people who might want to compose for the harp:

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Dr. Caitlin Cowan explains and demonstrates how to write an erasure poem.

Rachel Miller, Co-Director of the Blue Lake Dance Department, provides a brief history of dance.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Monday, July 27, 2020

Grab an instrument and try some cool concentration warm-ups. Our very own Tavia Zerman from Grand Ledge Schools takes you through some easy exercises that might not be so easy. Up for the challenge?

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Classics in the Jazzroom 
9:30-10:00am on Blue Lake Public Radio at 

A drummer serves time in space. This week on “Classics in the Jazzroom,” drummer Tim Froncek selects The Quincy Jones Big Band version of Benny Golson’s classic riff “Killer Joe” from the album “Walking In Space.” Tim is an inquisitive teacher, so he’s got some questions about what you hear:

Q: What instrument do we hear solo first that might not be in every jazz band?
Q: What kind of mute did the trumpet soloist use?
Q: Spot the ensemble texture & dynamic contrasts?

Extra Credit: Quincy wrote arrangements for Count Basie’s Big Band and became a famous record producer. The Basie vocalist's nickname was Ol’ Blues Eyes. What was his real name?
Quincy produced the biggest selling Pop record ever, which was also a “Thriller”, name the artist?

Quincy Jones
Classics in the Classroom Jazz

Friday, July 24, 2020

Alumni Spotlight: Natalie Mannix

What is your artistic specialty and how are you practicing it now?

I am currently Associate Professor of Trombone at the University of North Texas. I also played principal trombone in the Delaware Symphony for 14 years and trombone in the U.S. Navy Band in Washington, DC for 9 years.

What is your educational/training background?

I got a Bachelor of Musical Arts degree in trombone performance from the University of Michigan, MM in trombone performance from The Juilliard School and my DMA from the Catholic University of America.

When did you attend Blue Lake?

I attended Blue Lake as a camper in 1986 and 1987, a member of Blue Lake in Bavaria in 1988, counselor and euphonium soloist with the Blue Lake International Band in 1992 and I was trombone faculty member from 1996-1999.

What was special about Blue Lake and do you have any particular experiences or memories that you would like to share?

I loved all of the new friends I met every summer, whether I was a camper or on the faculty. At Blue Lake, I quickly learned that music was going to create a path to life-long relationships.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Curator David Bower demonstrates some of the instrument museum's brass collection.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Blue Lake's Piano Department Coordinator, Dr. Wan-Chin Chang, provides some tips on keeping your piano keys clean.

In this week's Writing Wednesday, Dr. Caitlin Cowan explains line breaks and the difference between poems and "Chopped-up prose."

Writing Wednesday July 22 2020

In their book, The Poet’s Companion, Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux write, “Most people who are beginning to write poetry are confused about line breaks. They wonder what the difference is between a poem and ‘chopped-up prose.’” Today, I’m going to show you a writing exercise that will help you to begin to improve your understanding of the poetic line: the poem’s most defining structural feature. 

A line of poetry is one or more words that are strung together before being “broken” by beginning a new line, whether or not a grammatical sentence has been created. For example, the famous poem “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams looks like this on the page:

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

The first three words of the poem are on one line together: “so much depends.” Then, the writer “breaks” and begins a new line of just one word: “upon.” You’ll notice that neither the phrase “so much depends” nor the word “upon” are grammatical sentences. Instead, they are poetic lines.

But how long should the lines be, and where should I decide to break them? Poets have defined the line as a unit of breath, a unit of thought, and more. Breaking lines in different ways can change and enhance the meaning of a poem. You might also think of poetry as a kind of visual painting. How does the look of the poem change it’s meaning? What do shorter lines look like versus longer ones? Take time to think about how fast your eye or your speaking voice moves through the poem when you break the lines one way another.

The most important word on the line is the word on the end of the line because the eye is drawn there: it sticks out and is easy to see! For this reason, you might want to avoid breaking your lines on too many prepositions (like “of”) pronouns (like “I”) or conjunctions (like “and), though there are so many great exceptions to this “rule” (just look at the second line of the Williams poem above!)

I’ve removed the line breaks from the poem below. On a sheet of paper, rewrite the poem at least once with shorter lines that are intentionally broken. Once you’ve done this, use a new sheet of paper and break the lines again in a different way. You can also use a forward slash (“/”) to indicate where you would like to break a line (this is how poetry is often quoted in other kinds of writing), like this: “so much depends / upon //…” You’ll notice that I also used a double forward slash here to indicate a stanza break, which is a line of white space between lines or “paragraphs” of poetry. Here’s your source text with all the line breaks removed:

by Ari Feld

The survivor scraped spattered wax into a tin resting in the embers. He cleaned a shoelace in three drops of kerosene and poured the wax into a champagne flute fitted with the shoelace. The sacrament trembled and he explained. God is a pair of pliers, an ear of dry corn, the squirrel you are eating, the wire holding our tent against a gale, this weak light, a whetstone and your spit. These are no idols. God is a potato and a can of boiling water and it has never been otherwise. There is no god you cannot eat or swing against an enemy.

How does each line break you make change the poem? Keep playing with this poem or turn your eye on another piece of writing, maybe even a poem you’ve written in the past! What are you learning about the line as you break it? If you’re interested in further reading about this topic, check out James Longenbach’s book, The Art of the Poetic Line (2007); Mei-mei Berssenbrugge’s essay, “Two Lines”; Dana Gioia’s essay, “Thirteen Ways of Thinking About the Poetic Line”; Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem, “We Real Cool”; and Eileen Myles’ poem, “An American Poem.”

Feel free to post your experiments and results in the comments or on social media with the hashtags #WritingWednesdays, #BlueLakeFineArtsCamp, and #VirtualArts

Thanks for reading this VirtualArts post brought to you by Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp!

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Monday, July 20, 2020

Dr. Stephanie Ycaza is the Instructor of Tuba and Euphonium at the University of Northern Iowa, where she teaches applied lessons and conducts the UNITUBA ensemble. Stephanie is a faculty member here at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, where she teaches tuba and music theory. She discusses here the important aspects of an audition and how to prepare for it.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Join Blue Lake string faculty Amanda Wilton and Suren Petrosyan for the #CanterburyLaneChallenge.  Download parts below and post your own picture or video of you playing Blue Lake’s theme song, Canterbury Lane, in your community! #CanterburyLaneChallenge #VirtualArts #BlueLakeFineArtsCamp #LoveBlueLake

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Classics in the Jazzroom

Greg Dudzienski is a member of Blue Lake's Jazz Faculty and selected the Gerry Mulligan Concert Jazz Band's performance of George Russell's "All About Rosie," a composition based on a child's song game. Greg writes:

George Russell's suite "All About Rosie" is a setting of the children's song-game "Rosie, little Rosie". Gerry Mulligan's performance of it with his Concert Jazz Band is the gold standard. So much we can learn from this performance: firstly, as we listen through see if you can keep track of the "Rosie" motive and notice how Russell develops it. Secondly, listen for texture you'll hear that there aren't a lot of "block voicings" (like we'd typically hear from Basie's band for instance). Instead, Russell takes a horizontal approach to harmonization and orchestration relying on well-constructed lines coming out of bebop language woven together in counterpoint. This way of writing went on to influence writers such as Bob Florence and Bill Holman. Notice how instrumental families are used. Also, there is a very common big band instrument absent from this arrangement. Do you know what it is? Do you miss it?

Friday, July 17, 2020

Today we salute the late Dr. Harry Begian (1921-2010), who would have been 99 years old this summer. Dr. Begian was a longtime friend of Blue Lake - serving as its Festival Orchestra and Festival Band conductor for many years. Watch a recorded 2006 interview, see past programs, and listen to an interview by WBLV's Bonnie Bierma and a Festival Band recording, under the direction of Dr. Begian, of Stars & Stripes Forever. Festival Band performance

1994 WBLV Interview
with Dr. Begian

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Greg Dudzienski, Blue Lake Jazz Faculty member, takes you through a practice session focused on jazz scales and how to use them in your improvising!

PDFs he refers to are here:

Curator David Bower discusses the Instrument Museum's violin collection.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Dean Wilson has been on Blue Lake's Art Faculty for 6 years. Please visit his Webberville Schools art site online where he has many distance learning projects to pick from! What can you create today?

For this week's Writing Wednesday, Dr. Caitlin Cowan explains the "Exquisite Corpse". Spoiler: there's not actually a corpse.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Join Sarah Todd for another lesson and practice tips on rhythm reading for vocalists.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Dr. Katey Halbert has been on brass faculty here at BL for the past 3 years. Today she will discuss the secret to better articulation on the horn. Have your horn with you when you watch to get the full effect!

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Keeping you “cool” this Saturday morning, July 11, as part of “Jazz From Blue Lake,” “Classics in the Jazzroom” presents the laid back, bluesy West Coast Jazz Style of bandleader Gerald Wilson’s Orchestra performing “Lighthouse Blues” from 1965. This week’s piece was selected by Blue Lake jazz faculty member Dr. James Sawyer, who provided the notes below:

I chose this recording to highlight the laid back bluesy style of West Coast Jazz and the Gerald Wilson Orchestra. This piece is reminiscent of the blues feel generated by the Count Basie Orchestra but with more of a West Coast Jazz feel. West Coast Jazz refers to a style of jazz that developed in Los Angeles and San Francisco during the 1950s. West Coast Jazz is often seen as a subgenre of cool jazz, which consisted of a calmer style than bebop or hard bop.

In this 12-bar blues tune, the drummer is barely noticeable early on, using just the hi-hat to accompany the winds. The melody is simple using more of a riff with a question and answer-style led first by the vibes, then coupled by a guitar/vibes blend on the second 12 bars. 

Bassist Herbie Lewis is the driving force behind the entire tune. The bass and saxes answer the “question” riffs of the melody by Vibraphonist Roy Ayres and are then joined by guitarist Joe Pass. The chord colors utilize extended chord tones such as raised 5ths and 9ths to add a flavor unlike that of traditional blues. 

Friday, July 10, 2020

Nick Myers, Detroit Symphony Orchestra

Who are you now and background:

Nick Myers, section bass in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. I grew up in Cadillac, MI, in a family of non musicians, and started playing in my public school strings program in 6th grade. 

What is your art?

Wrestling furniture into submission while wearing a tuxedo.

When did you attend Blue Lake?

I attended BLFAC 2007, and 2008, and Blue Lake International 1.5 times… the infamous swine flu cancellation year of 2009, but in 2010 we were actually able to go overseas. 

Where are you now?

I live in Detroit, MI, playing in the DSO, and will be teaching at Wayne State University as of Fall 2020.

Why Blue Lake?

I was drawn to Blue Lake for the artistic activity, and wholeheartedly enjoyed learning and performing there, but it was most sentimental because it was my first time feeling like I was in a community that I truly belonged in… that joy has stayed with me throughout my life and career and has energized me during difficult times in my musical development.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Join Museum Curator David Bower to learn about the theremin.

Jacqueline Pollauf, Blue Lake Harp Coordinator, introduces herself and gives a message for Blue Lake's harp students.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Writing Wednesday July 8 2020

One of the simplest ways to boost your writing game and get some zen into your life is to create a daily journaling practice. Simply taking time, even as few as five minutes, to write down—by hand— your daily thoughts, experiences, or gratitude can boost your writing skills and even your mood!

Writing offers many benefits to those who practice the art form, and it also helps us bear witness: a term that means to carry the experience of something one has seen or experienced into the future. To bear witness means to say, “I saw this. I feel this. I remember.” 

To begin a journaling practice, first, choose your medium. This can be a really fun part of being a writer or maintaining a journaling practice. Where will you keep your journal? You can use a computer, tablet, or phone to journal, but the best thing to do is to use a paper medium. You can use a tiny notebook that fits in your pocket, a big flashy journal embossed with your name, or just a stack of scrap paper you stapled together. The choice is yours!

Once you’ve chosen your journal, it’s time to get down to business. We are living in a very unique time: your daily life might not look like it used to, and you may be having experiences that are totally new to you. Your future self—and, who knows, maybe even future generations!—will be very grateful to have a record of the time in which you lived. Memory can alter our experiences, but having a written record of what you felt and saw in the moment at any point in your life gives you an anchor point as you reflect on your past to move forward into the future.

Sometimes it’s easier to get started in a journal when you’re experiencing a strong emotion. Try this: Freewrite for five minutes (set a timer on your phone, your microwave, or stove!) about something in the world today that makes you really angry. Choose a large issue that concerns you. Get really angry. Rant. Write in capital letters, if you’d like. 

Then, after five minutes, shift gears. Take a deep breath. Set aside what you’ve just written and find out where and how this issue intersects your own life. This is crucial. Make it personal, full of images. Engage your five senses: sight, touch, smell, taste, and sound. You might think about how the story of your family overlaps with the larger stories of these issues. As James Merrill wrote, “we understand history through the family around the table.” Keep going, if you wish, or end off for the day after five minutes.

You can do this same exercise every day, or you can write absolutely whatever you want. Here are a few more ideas to keep you going:

  • Write three things every day that you are grateful for, no matter how simple
  • Describe your day in great detail
  • Write down your greatest frustration of the day and your greatest triumph of the day

If this exercise resonated with you, research the following poems and books online or at your local library or bookstore for more inspiration. These writers do a great job of capturing a central problem or issue of their time in vivid detail:

Bruce Weigl, “Song of Napalm”
Yusuf Komunyakaa, “Facing It”
Tarfia Faizullah, “100 Bells”
Warsan Shire, “Home”
Fatimah Asghar, “If They Should Come for Us”
Poetry of Witness: The Tradition in English (2014 book)

Remember that any #WritingWednesday post can go in your journal, and feel free to post your results in the comments or on social media with the hashtags #WritingWednesdays, #BlueLakeFineArtsCamp, and #VirtualArts

Thanks for reading this VirtualArts post, brought to you by Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp!

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Join Sarah Todd for a lesson and practice tips on rhythm reading for vocalists.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Join Dr. Katey Halbert as she discusses how to make slurring on the horn easier. Have your horn with you when you watch to get the full effect!

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Enjoy the United States Marine Band's social distancing rendition of "The Stars and Stripes Forever." On May 14, 1897, John Philip Sousa's iconic march, "The Stars and Stripes Forever," was first performed at Willow Grove Park, just outside Philadelphia.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Check out the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's YouTube page for performances, interviews with CSO musicians, and more!

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Join curator David Bower in Blue Lake's Instrument Museum as he gives an overview of instrument technology throughout history.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Writing Wednesdays - American Sentences

Join Dr. Caitlin Cowan to learn how to write an "American Sentence".

Blue Lake's piano faculty, led by department coordinator Dr. Wan-Chin Chang, perform From Canterbury Lane.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Join Blue Lake voice faculty Dr. Courtney Piercey and Dr. Susan Ruggiero for a conversation about how to have a successful audition experience.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Join Blue Lake clarinet instructor Dr. David Cook for a lesson on the fundamentals of an effective clarinet embouchure.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Google, in cooperation with museums around the world, can take you on a jet setting tour through some of the top museums in the world, including MoMA in New York and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris to name a few. Explore today!!

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Enjoy violinist Igor Kalnin and the Rose Chamber Orchestra, in concert Session 4, 2018, performing Tzigane for Violin and Orchestra. Tzigane is a rhapsodic composition by the French composer Maurice Ravel. Originally written for violin and piano, the piece was commissioned in 1924 by and dedicated to Hungarian violinist Jelly d'Arányi, great-niece of the influential violin virtuoso Joseph Joachim.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Blake Morgan - Blue Lake Alumni Spotlight

What is your artistic specialty and how are you practicing it now?

I record, teach, and tour internationally with the British vocal octet, VOCES8, for whom I also write and arrange music. In my time away from the group, I have a solo folk music project called “Esto” where I keep up my instrumental chops, tracking and performing original tunes. Prior to VOCES8, I toured with full-time men’s ensembles Chanticleer and Cantus, and was a member of Austin-based Conspirare when the group won its 2015 GRAMMY for best choral performance.

What is your educational/training background?

I grew near Detroit listening to my father play drums in different Motown bands (he previously had a stint with Tina Turner) so I was behind the kit with him, learning at an early age. I took up piano lessons and also began playing several instruments in the band and orchestra throughout grade school. However, I picked up guitar in 9th grade with dreams of being the next Bon Jovi, started a rock band, and also got more seriously into jazz. 

I entered Western Michigan University as a jazz studies major, but enjoyed singing in “Gold Company” (the vocal jazz ensemble) so much that I decided to join the classical choir as well... then the opera chorus. I eventually decided to add both a music education degree and a classical voice degree.

When did you attend Blue Lake?

I attended Blue Lake a few times! My first visit as a camper was in 2007, playing drum kit in the jazz band. 

In 2008 I wanted to try out Blue Lake’s International program but was a little late applying for the jazz group — I was told there were a few tenor spots available in the International choir, so I sent in a recording of me singing really high with my rock band. Somehow I made the cut! It was the first choir with which I ever made music, and I absolutely drank-up the kool-aid; guess I’m still drinking it! 

I also returned to the summer camp to play jazz guitar later that summer (2008), served as an intensive week counsellor a few times, and reprised my role as a tenor in the International choir during the summer of 2012, this time as a staff member. Lots of great memories!

What was special about Blue Lake and do you have any particular experiences or memories that you would like to share?

BLFAC, particularly the International program, was the defining experience that made me want to pursue music as a career. I wasn’t ready for such a whirlwind of a summer, and any expectation I could have dreamed-up for my first experience abroad was absolutely shattered, in a profoundly positive way. Getting that first taste of travelling to a new world — soaking up so much exciting culture, making friends on the other side of the ocean, transcending language barriers with the power of song — it set me off on an inspiring chase to make a career out of moments like that. Blue Lake’s International program brought some of my most cherished memories, many of my best friends (still to this day), and a serious helping of indescribable magic, from which I still draw inspiration, even now.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Curator David Bower gives a virtual tour of Blue Lake's Instrument Museum.

Meet Blue Lake's Harp Department Coordinator, Jacqueline Pollauf. Her YouTube channel has many informational and entertaining videos - check out her playlists for repertoire recommendations, technique demonstrations, and even maintenance and repair tips!

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Writing Wednesday June 24 2020

Join Dr. Caitlin Cowan for Writing Wednesday as she presents a creative writing lesson about the beau present.

Hi there! My name is Caitlin Cowan, and I’m the Director of International Tours at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. I’m also a published writer who has taught creative writing in universities, summer camps, and communities around the country, and I’m so excited to be talking to you about writing every week this summer for #WritingWednesdays from VirtualArts at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp.

Are you feeling a little stir-crazy staying home all the time? Has it been tough on you having your choices limited when it comes to how you spend your time? I definitely understand. I can’t wait to see all my favorite people and visit my favorite places again! But did you know that having limited options, media, or choices (what we call “constraints”) can actually increase your creativity? One form of creative writing you can use to try out this idea is what’s known as a beau present (French for “beautiful gift”), which is a poem that is traditionally given to the person whose name appears in the title. But you can use any word, or the name of a place (like I have) to get started. Let’s think about how such a limiting form can make us consider new possibilities!

For this exercise, you’ll choose a name, word, or phrase to serve as your title. Try your own name! Then, write a poem about that person, place, or thing using only the letters that appear in those words. This means you’ll need to find anagrams in the title of your poem itself. 

Need a refresher? An anagram is a word that is made from the letters in another word. For example, the word “post” contains the word “stop,” “pot,” “to,” etc. Feel free to use an online anagram generator to find usable words, or stretch your brain and sniff out the anagrams yourself on paper. 

Here’s an example of a beau present I wrote for BLFAC! (This is also written in a poetic form called a tanka… I’ll talk about that more in a future #WritingWednesday exercise!)


In silent sun: pine.
Mute trees are leafier, calm—
all music, in time.
Rest till later—craft peaceful tunes
fine as maple sap, a balm. 

Every word in the poem is a word whose letters appear in the phrase “Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp.” Cool, right? Are you digging this poetic form? If so, research the following poems and books for more inspiration!

Chen Chen, “Chen [No Middle Name] Chen”
Dave Drayton, “A Toast to a Saint: Beau Present for Martin Harrison”
Sidney Wade, Straits & Narrows (2013)

Feel free to post your experiments and results in the comments or on social media with the hashtags #WritingWednesdays, #BlueLakeFineArtsCamp, and #VirtualArts

Thanks for reading this VirtualArts post brought to you by Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp!

Blue Lake Co-Director of Art, Geo Rutherford shows us how to create an Artist's Book from unwanted artwork. If a piece doesn't work for you, turn it into an Accordion Fold Artist's Book!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Join Blue Lake voice faculty Dr. Courtney Piercey and Dr. Susan Ruggiero as they share tips for a successful practice session for singers.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Blue Lake flute instructor Dr. Danilo Mezzadri explains his interleaved practice system, called the Spider Log, which he uses in his own practice. Watch and learn how to organize and improve your practice!

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Classics in the Classroom Jazz

Join Blue Lake Public Radio this Saturday morning for “Classics in the Jazzroom,” a virtual opportunity for learning. This Saturday’s jazz classic is Miles Davis’s recording of Kurt Weil’s composition My Ship from Miles Ahead, Miles Davis + 19

This week’s work was chosen by Blue Lake faculty member Gregory Dudzienski, who writes:

Miles Davis +19 is not a traditional “big band “ recording, but is very important in setting the direction for the future. My Ship is a beautifully minimal setting of the melody that allows Miles to shine.  Of particular interest is the subtle changes in harmonization as each “A” section comes around.  Of course, Gil’s orchestrations are sublime…notice how he makes non-traditional choices with regard to instrumental pairings and usage (especially that bass clarinet!), mixed mutes in the brass to achieve very impressionistic colors, and a very virtuosic use of woodwinds.  When listening to this it is easy to hear the many artists that were influenced, like Maria Schneider for one.

Jazz From Blue Lake airs every Saturday morning from 7-10 eastern time, with the “Classics in the Jazzroom” segment heard between 9:30 and 10 a.m. Streaming live from

June 17, 2020

It's Wednesday after lunch

June 17, 2020

It's Wednesday morning. The Current time is Sun Aug 01, 2021 5:46 am

June 16, 2020