Music Camp: Barefoot Movement, Vinyl Floors are headline instructors

Register now to study instruments, songwriting, singing and stage management

Instructor Matthew Pustina teaches Hannah Wolfe how to play the mandolin during the 2016 Cordova 4H Music Camp. Photo by Penny Johnson/For The Cordova Times

Barefoot Movement, Nashville musicians heralded as one of the most promising bands on the bluegrass scene, will be teaching at Cordova 4H’s Music Camp July 17-21, and performing at the Cordova Center July 22.

Also coming to teach at the music camp, now in its 23rd year, will be The Vinyl Floors, a young band from Anchorage that has played community events from the mayor’s inauguration to the Earth Care Jamboree. They will open for Barefoot Movement at the Cordova Center.

The registration deadline is July 14, and Belle Mickelson, one of the camp’s founders, said there’s openings left for campers of all ages.

Mickelson started the first music camp in Cordova in 1994, along with violin teacher Judy Cunningham, and a few other parents, she said.

“I heard about a music camp in Anchorage that was started the year before by Mary Shallert, and continues to be held every June. The Cordova 4H Music Camp board, parents, and the community support, keep these camps going every year,” Mickelson said.

Other camp instructors include Kaloku Holt, ukulele; Tyson Alteri, guitar; Fred Weiss, electric bass; Nancy Galambush, mountain dulcimer; and Destany Hawley, guitar.

“Kate Hamre is the Bluegrass camp director. Kate was the bass player with Bearfoot for nine years, and is the director of Bluegrass Camps for Kids,” she said.

Music camp has three age groups – Hawaiian camp for children ages 6-8, Bluegrass camp for kids ages 9-18-years old, and an adult camp.

Bluegrass camp will teach students a variety of musical instruments, as well as songwriting, singing, and stage management.

“Students have the opportunity to take three classes and join a band with kids their own age. There are lots of instruments for campers to use in their classes, which range from beginner to advanced,” Mickelson said.

Hawaiian camp, for the 6-8-year-old age group, teaches children about Hawaiian culture, language, arts and crafts, and the traditional dance, the hula. They’ll also learn how to play the ukulele, Mickelson said, and will be introduced to playing either fiddle or guitar.

“Keawe Holt will be the camp director, with Ashley Helenihi and Mahealani Mackenzie assisting him. This will be third year that Hawaiian instructors have come up from the Ke Kukui Foundation in Vancouver, Wash., to teach,” she said.

Joshua Pitchford learned how to play the banjo with instructor Adam Roszkiewicz, during the 2016 Cordova 4H Music Camp. Photo by Penny Johnson/For The Cordova Times

Adults can take one to five classes per day, every day, or just on their days off, she said. Adult classes run from 12:45 p.m. to 7 pm.  Adult camp fees fund the kids’ camps.

Campers hang out together after classes and in the evenings, eat and play together, and jam together, too, she said.

“It’s a great way to make friends,” she said. “The best part about music camp is spending time with old friends— and making new ones! Plus, kids are getting into a lifetime of music.”

Many of the evening events, at Mt. Eccles Elementary School, are open to the public.

A square dance is scheduled for July 17, at 7 p.m.  A music camp instructors/staff concert is set for July 18, at 7 p.m. The student concert on July 21 at 6 p.m. will wrap up the week. The square dance will go outside if the weather is good that day.

“And, look for the Bands Around Town during the lunch hour on July 21,” Mickelson said.

Cordova’s 4H Music Camp board members are Kathy Zamudio, president; Becca Dodge, treasurer; and general board members Cathy Pegau, Kris Kokborg, Malani Towle, Elizabeth Swain, Chelsea Haisman, Jared Niles, and Julia McMahon.

Sign up for music camp online at, or pick up a paper registration form at the library and turn in the completed form to the Netloft.

For more information, email, or call Kathy Zamudio at 424-3111. For questions about adult music camp, contact Mickelson at 424-5143.

Music Camp offers up diverse range of traditional music styles

The Cordova 4H Music Camp, July 17-21, offers young people an opportunity to explore a diverse range of traditional acoustic music styles in a supportive environment.

Students will take three to four classes a day, one of which will be performing at the end of camp, in addition to family events held around town. Special guest artists, as well as local Alaskan musicians, teach classes.

The deadline to register for all classes is July 14.

Hawaiian Camp

Ages 6-8

At the Hawaiian Camp, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church Parish, children will take part in Hawaiian storytelling, learn about the culture behind Hawaii’s folk songs, and learn a few songs to sing. They’ll also learn basic hula steps, and be able to dance to an entire Hawaiian song by the end of camp.

In a beginning ukulele class they’ll learn basic ukulele chords, how to tune the instrument, and how to strum the uke. Also offered in this course will be instruction in various Hawaiian crafts, and how to decorate hula skirts for their final performances at the end of camp.

Participants can also choose between learning beginning fiddle or beginning guitar.

The cost is $300. Applicants must have completed kindergarten.

Cordova 4H Bluegrass and Old Time Music Camp

Ages 9-18

Bluegrass Camp, at Mt. Eccles Elementary School, will offer a variety of classes. These include beginning, intermediate and advanced banjo, bass, electric bass, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, and jamming; swing dance, piano; beginner ukulele, vocals, teen vocals for students ages 12 and older, plus classes in songwriting, sound, recording, and emcee and stage managing.

Additionally, band electives are offered to participate in the camp’s Bluegrass Band, Old Time Band, Folk Band, Irish Band, Improvisation Band, Classic Rock Band, and Island Band.

The cost is $300.

Adult Music Camp
The Cordova 4H Music Camp also offers adult classes.

Five classes will be offered every afternoon July 17-21 at the Cordova Church of the Nazarene.

Adult classes include beginner, intermediate and advanced clawhammer banjo, bass, guitar, mandolin, ukulele and jamming; beginner, intermediate, advanced, twin and master fiddle; adult vocals; harmony singing; beginner, hula; and intermediate ukulele; song writing; and participation in the camp’s Bluegrass band or Old Time Band.


To sign up for music camp visit, or pick up a paper registration form at the library and turn it into the Netloft when completed.




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Cinthia Gibbens-Stimson is a staff writer and photographer for The Cordova Times. She has been writing in one form or another for 30-plus years and has had a longstanding relationship with The Cordova Times starting in 1989. She's been an Alaskan since 1976 and first moved to Cordova in 1978. She's lived in various West Texas towns; in Denver, Colorado; in McGrath, Cordova, Galena, Kodiak, Wasilla, Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska and in Bangalore, India. She has two children and three grandchildren. She can be reached at or follow her on Instagram @alaskatoindia.