There is an old saying that goes “Practice makes perfect.” Members of the Oklahoma 4-H Music Corps take those three words to heart. These dedicated 4-H’ers do whatever it takes to hone their music skills and improve their stage presence. They are learning that practice makes perfect.
While some teenagers worked summer jobs or lounged by the pool, members of the 4-H Music Corps spent some time at the Music Education Matters Summit in Georgia to help fine tune their musical and performance abilities. They also recently took part in the third annual 4-H Music Camp at Robbers Cave State Park near Wilburton, Oklahoma, where they learned about the power of music and stage management, as well as writing more songs. The group always is looking for ways to improve their musical skills.
4-H Music Corps is under the direction of Mike Carter, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension educator in Pittsburg County and this was the group’s second trip to the summit.
“This educational opportunity is hosted by Georgia 4-H and gives 4-H’ers who are interested in music the opportunity to practice and grow in music education,” Carter said. “They network and learn from industry professionals which are 4-H alumni, all while developing as leaders, team members and performers.”
The music camp in Oklahoma gives group members a chance to collaborate on songs they have been working on individually.
Jaydan Coffman said she has discovered more confidence in herself since she joined 4-H Music Corps.
“This music summit in Georgia was a lot like 4-H Roundup, but focused on vocals,” said the Woods County 4-H’er. “But it wasn’t just about singing. We learned how to hold the microphone, how to breathe and to just have fun. Music Corps has really expanded my horizons.”
Coffman said that while she has always loved to sing, her new-found confidence has opened up even more opportunities for her to perform in her community and at school functions.
“I sing a lot more at school and it really has helped me make new friends. Last year at Roundup I was mainly friends with the kids from my county,” she said. “But this year I made a lot of new friends.”
Pittsburg County 4-H’er Rachel Eggleston has been with 4-H Music Corps since its inception about two years ago. You will find her playing a variety of instruments, including the fiddle, cajon and ukulele, as well as vocals.
“The music summit in Georgia was an amazing experience. Last year I participated in the instrumental classes where we learned to play in a group,” she said. “We also worked on playing in keys I didn’t like, but those experiences really helped me grow as a musician. This year I took the vocal classes, which was way outside of my comfort zone.”
Carter said these 4-H’ers amaze him every single time they get together to practice, write songs or perform.
“We’re still a relatively new thing, having formed this group almost two years ago,” he said. “From where they started to now just blows my mind. These kids are true musicians and willing to take chances, learn new instruments and step out of their comfort zone, all while honing their musical abilities and developing leadership skills. They’re beyond anything I ever could’ve imagined when we started down this road two years ago.”
Carter said while the club members deserve much of the credit, the group’s success also is due in part to the parents of the youth involved.
“We have the best parents and they understand the vision of 4-H Music Corps,” he said. “When it comes to music, entertainment is a by-product. These kids are learning, developing skills and having fun. Music is a tool from which these kids learn and share, but the main thing is we just have fun with it.”
For additional information about 4-H Music Corps, contact Carter at 918-423-4120 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Story by Trisha Gedon