Conducting the Keyboard Camp 'Rain Choir' performance, outdoors in the sunshine! (Photo: Will Jones)

Keyboard Camp 2017 a huge success!

10 Years Of Keyboard Camp! (Photo: Will Jones)
10 Years Of Keyboard Camp! (Photo: Will Jones)

The first time I’ve got ’round to sitting down to write about it, even though it was now three weeks ago… (After Keyboard Camp finished, it was straight into four gigs over three days that weekend; an exhausting four-day studio refit; another weekend of gigs right down in the toes of Cornwall; and a day of PA system setup in readiness for new ventures this summer… More on all of that soon enough!) But I am delighted that the tenth anniversary of the (by now) famous NKO Keyboard Camp was such a success!

With music drawn from the material we have learnt as an orchestra over the previous nine residentials (plus some new music thrown in especially for this year) – as well as party games, birthday cake, a nostalgic photo slideshows from Keyboard Camps gone by – and culminating in an evening performance showcasing all the hard work and preparation over the past four days, the tenth Keyboard Camp was a true celebration of what makes it special, and exciting.

Sectional rehearsals in The Big Room at How Hill
Sectional rehearsals in The Big Room at How Hill

I have always been proud to be associated with a residential music course which is always evolving and improving, and where the students keep coming back year after year (for nine years in a row, in some cases!), and still want more…

As well as sectional and full orchestral rehearsals covering a wide range of musical styles, students at Keyboard Camp are treated to workshops which allow them to be more creative, and work with music in other formats; this year’s Keyboard Camp workshops touched on arranging music and songwriting techniques – and, for the most advanced students, a technology-rich session on creating a remix of a hit song.

Remix workshop at Keyboard Camp (Photo: Hannah Brigham)
Remix workshop at Keyboard Camp (Photo: Hannah Brigham)
Remix workshop at Keyboard Camp (Photo: Hannah Brigham)
Remix workshop at Keyboard Camp (Photo: Hannah Brigham)

Non-keyboard based musical activities have formed a larger and larger part of Keyboard Camp as the years have gone, and this year saw us attempt some of our most ambitious projects yet – our ‘Tin Can Orchestra’, taking on the Heinz Can Song Challenge, and our ‘Rain Choir’ singing in four-part harmony – with great success.

It is the ever-increasing focus on providing this well-rounded musical experience which helps to make Keyboard Camp unique; giving our students the opportunities to express themselves and make music in different ways ensures that they are not only developing their keyboard skills over the four days they are with us, but also their overall musicianship, cooperation and ensemble skills, and general understanding of what being a musician is really all about.

'Tin Can Orchestra' rehearsals
‘Tin Can Orchestra’ rehearsals

And of course, no Keyboard Camp would be complete without the team Quiz, and our world-famous Talent Show (which, this year, saw the Staff team enter a cover of The Bangles’ ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’, to universal acclaim).

Quiz night at Keyboard Camp
Quiz night at Keyboard Camp

Since the course ended, we have had all kinds of lovely feedback from the students who attended this year’s Keyboard Camp – showing once again what an incredible difference this yearly event in music education, and what a positive impact it can have on the students who come back time and time again.

Remix workshop at Keyboard Camp (Photo: Hannah Brigham)
Remix workshop at Keyboard Camp (Photo: Hannah Brigham)

And it is never too early to register your interest for next year’s Keyboard Camp! In 2018, we will return to How Hill for the sixth time (it will be the eleventh Keyboard Camp, in total) for more musical fun (on keyboards and off them!); more games; more whacky talent show entries; more late-night hot chocolate; and more opportunities to enjoy learning about music, and progressing as a musician alongside other like-minded young keyboard and piano students.

Conducting the Keyboard Camp 'Rain Choir' performance, outdoors in the sunshine! (Photo: Will Jones)
Conducting the Keyboard Camp ‘Rain Choir’ performance, outdoors in the sunshine! (Photo: Will Jones)

Ten years of Keyboard Camp

Keyboard Camp – the exciting four-day residential course for keyboard and piano players, held every Easter in the heart of rural Norfolk (first at Wymondham College, and subsequently at Whitwell Hall and now the How Hill Trust) – is turning ten years old this year! First held in 2008, this year’s Camp marks the ten-year anniversary of what has become the highlight of the musical year for many young keyboard players and pianists in the area.

Sectional rehearsals in The Big Room at How Hill
Sectional rehearsals in The Big Room at How Hill

Organised and run by the team from the Norfolk Keyboard Orchestra, Keyboard Camp is a great opportunity for students of piano and keyboard of all ages and stages to come together and enjoy making music in a fun and social environment. As well as sectional rehearsals (with parts tailored to suit different playing abilities), and full orchestral playing, there are a variety of other workshops (on topics ranging from different styles of keyboard playing, to using technology in music and writing your own compositions), and opportunities to have fun learning and making music together – plus games, quizzes, ‘tuck shop’, and the inevitable talent show.

Synthesis and technology workshop
Synthesis and technology workshop

This year, we return to the How Hill Trust in Ludham, to enjoy a selection of brand new repertoire and old favourites (all especially arranged for keyboard ensemble) in this beautiful country setting.

If you, your children, or your students are interested in Keyboard Camp, please contact Rory Marsden for more information, and to book your place on this amazing ten-year anniversary edition of the much-loved course – or download the application form here to ensure you don’t miss out.

Composing and using technology
Composing and using technology

Bring on 2013!

It is, sadly, too late to post this with the title “Happy New Year” – but here goes…

I’ve seen plenty of people asking how 2013 can possibly live up to the wonders that 2012 had to offer.  On a National scale, that may well be the case; 2012 was a Jubilee year, and was the year of a triumphant London Olympics – not to mention the fact that Norwich City Football Club survived to stay up in the Premier League.

On a personal level, however, my first gig of 2013 last weekend, with Crystal Bats, was a belter, while tomorrow sees a return to teaching at Sistema In Norwich, to which I’m very much looking forward.

There are plenty of exciting things planned for 2013 – including more shows with Crystal Bats, a debut album with Witchers (our first studio release since the Throw Your Books Into The Fire EP in July 2010), potentially the biggest ever Keyboard Camp Residential Course, and even a film appearance!  So yes, 2013 is shaping up to be pretty good!

As always, you can keep up-to-date with everything that’s going on here the site, and by following me on Twitter.