Bravo Waukegan's music camp offers lessons, performances

  • Bravo Buddies students and teachers during the family concert performance July 12.

    Bravo Buddies students and teachers during the family concert performance July 12. Courtesy of Amy Sekili

Submitted by Amy Sekili
Updated 7/22/2019 1:35 PM

Take 112 students -- some of whom have never played an instrument before -- add 17 exceptional music teachers and three special musical guest groups, and the end results can be amazing.

Lake Forest-based nonprofit Bravo Waukegan just finished its ninth season of Bravo Buddies Music Camp, a program available to Waukegan public school students in second through eighth grade.

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Students attend the four-week camp for $55, with Bravo largely underwriting the cost of this unique program.

Bravo's mission is to support music in the Waukegan public schools, and the camp is one key way the organization does this. The program enables students to receive two individual music lessons with their teacher every week. Then, with "Fun Fridays," students join together for sectional and orchestral practice, and also experience a special performance and program from musical guests.

The culmination of the program took place July 12, when the students performed the song "Union Almanac" as a group. The song was composed by Ethan Parcell and commissioned specifically for Bravo Buddies.

"Each year, I get so excited about our camp plans and offerings, and this year was no exception," Bravo Buddies Artistic Director Joey Rosin said. "It was incredibly exciting to share with students such talented musical guests, and it was amazing to listen to the students play a song composed just for them."

Rosin said the hand-picked selection of musical guests -- which included the Chicago Bears Drumline, the award-winning Axiom Brass Quartet, and Pete Tashjian of Shift: Englewood Youth Orchestra and Dan Trahey of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's "OrchKids" -- enabled the students to learn about the creativity that goes into composing and playing music and the importance of practicing regularly.


Camp wouldn't be complete without the engaging presence of Camp Director Maria Muhammad and the team of teachers, which is largely composed of college music students or recent graduates.

"We were thrilled to offer camp to a record number of students this year," Bravo Waukegan Executive Director Karey Walker said. "It's very touching to walk down the halls and listen to the students learning how to play music individually and as a group, and to see them deepening their connection with music."

Bravo thanked Steve Serck, owner of JAB Produce, for providing fresh fruit as snacks for the students; Trader Joe's of Libertyville for providing water; and La Michoacana Premium of Waukegan for donating ice cream for the special camp celebration July 12.

Bravo also would like to thank Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Waukegan for providing the school facilities for camp.

To learn more about Bravo, visit or call (847) 722-5821.

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