Mandy Campbell & Mark Spence – Drum Attack

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In a first for the Greater Port Macquarie area, aspiring young drummers will be able to hone their skills at a specialist drum camp. Drum Attack – Weekend Drumming Boot Camp organiser Mandy Campbell, local drum teacher Mark Spence and well known drummer Grant Collins share their enthusiasm of this unique new event, which will take place from 14 – 16 September …

Hi Mandy. What prompted you to organise a weekend camp for drummers at Bonny Hills? 

My son, Jackson, has been playing drums for four years now, and I had been searching everywhere for a music camp specifically for drummers − but there was just nothing out there. So I thought, “Why not bring ‘Mohammad to the Mountain’!”

I really enjoy organising events and after contacting Grant Collins and Mark Spence and getting their thumbs up, Drum Attack – Weekend Drumming Boot Camp was born. Everyone involved has been so enthusiastic and supportive and the drumming community are very excited, as this drum camp is the first of its kind in our area.

We understand the whole weekend is being run as a not-for-profit event?

Yes, that’s correct. Some families are doing it tough at the moment, so I wanted to keep the price as low as possible. To do this, my partner Chris and I, with the help of some other parents, are undertaking some fundraising projects. We’ve had tremendous support from Uniting Venues and local businesses in the Camden Haven with the donation of raffle prizes, plus help from Port Panthers and Coastal Music in Port Macquarie.

Plus, the support from the community in buying raffle tickets and sausage sandwiches (or just coming over to say hello with a smile) at our Community BBQs at Woolworths in Lake Cathie has been overwhelming; we have met some wonderful people.

What dates will Drum Attack be running, and what activities are planned?

The weekend commences on Friday 14 September with a welcome BBQ dinner and will be officially opened by Cameron Marshall from ABC Mid North Coast, concluding at 2.30pm on Sunday 16 September.

The action packed programme includes: workshops and tuition, handouts, informative talks, drumset demonstrations, entertainment, quizzes, competitions, prizes and giveaways, plus some time for chilling out.

What age group will the camp cater for, and what is the cost for participants?

This Drumming Boot Camp is aimed at students aged 12 -19. The cost of the weekend is $229. This price includes everything − all of the activities mentioned, plus two nights’ accommodation, meals, snacks and drinks.

Comments from the two drum teachers, Mark Spence and Grant Collins.

What is your background as a musician? 

Mark: I began playing drums and percussion in Year 6, and accelerated rapidly on the various instruments, but specifically the snare drum. I initially focused mainly on orchestral and marching percussion, until my senior year in high school, when I began to focus almost exclusively on Jazz percussion.

It led me to study at Georgia State University, where I had a chance to work with some amazing teachers, both on campus and off. I went gigging as much as possible in the Atlanta area in wildly diverse and haphazard ensembles. Anything and everything: I did it.

It’s only recently that I turned my attention once again to classical percussion, and how valuable it is to ground a student not just in drums, but for a lifelong study and appreciation of music in general.

Grant: I’ve been performing for over 25 years as a professional musician and have been fortunate enough to play a wide range of styles of music. Over the past 15 years, I have focused on my compositions and performances as a solo drumset performer. This has given me the opportunity to tour around the world playing my music to concert audiences throughout Europe, Asia, the USA and my native Australia. I’ve also had the opportunity to conduct workshops, private lessons and seminars on music and drumming around the world. I am currently in the final stages of completing my PhD in music.

What skills/experiences are you hoping to share with the students attending the camp?

Grant: The camp will encompass a range of drumming activities and experiences. I have devised my programs to aid the students in the development of the building blocks of technique with the hands and the feet, as well as discovering different styles of music, and even a fun session on stick tricks.

They will also walk away with better hand-eye coordination, a stronger sense of time and feel, and a solid foundation for what is required to develop a systematic practice routine. Most of all, it will be a fun and educational experience!

Mark: I’m hoping kids will walk away with a lot of things, including some improved playing chops, but beyond that I hope they get a sense of how vast and limitless the world of drums and percussion really is, and how there is so much room for growth and individuality.

Many of them will leave with their heads spinning I’m sure, but if they get a sense of how achievable it all is, as long as they’re willing to work, then I will consider that a great success.

Many of us want to be artists, but beyond the desire and dreams, it often comes down to who puts in the hours in the practice room. If they can see what the path entails as a positive rather than a negative, then I think that is a great step towards changing attitudes for the better. If it was easy, everyone would do it.

I guess as an aside, I hope they find strength and support in numbers and that they get a sense of belonging to a real drumming community.

I often tell my students that they are going to be teaching each other far more than I can hope to. The way kids can interact and communicate to each other is inspiring, and in a supportive environment they should all walk away from the camp feeling empowered by their brothers and sisters in drums.

Mandy, do you have any plans for more camps/workshops in the future?

Yes definitely! We have been so overwhelmed by the interest in the Weekend Drumming Boot Camp, that we plan to make this an annual event! We have even received a couple of enrolments for 2013 already!

We have also had many enquiries from primary aged drummers and have scheduled a one hour clinic/workshop with Grant called Junior Drumheads in Laurieton on the afternoon of Sunday (16th) September to cater for them.

Adult drummers will not miss out either, with Grant’s ‘One Day Drummers Boot Camp’ planned for later in the year, which involves a full 7-hour day of intensive drumming.

What are the contact details for anyone interested in attending the Weekend Boot Camp or the other events?

For details, you can contact Mandy on 0431 234 201. (At the time of going to print, there are just three places remaining for the Weekend Boot Camp).

Thanks everyone.

Interviews by Jo Atkins.

This story was published in issue 81 of the Greater Port Macquarie Focus

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