Skip to main contentSkip to main navigationSkip to footer content
Events | News | Arts and SciencesJune 01, 2023

Summertime Music: UAFS Department of Music and Theatre Host Summer Camps

Written By: Ian Silvester

During the early weeks of summer at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, chattering squirrels, the puttering of golf carts, and the sounds of prospective students on campus tours fill the air. But beginning Monday, June 12, notes will sound from horns and bounce off drums turning melodies into music as the annual UAFS Music Department Band Camp and Jazz Workshop return.
Local middle and high school students are encouraged to register before attending one or both events. The Summer Band Camp will run Monday, June 12, through Friday, June 16. Students will spend the week alternating between full band rehearsals and sectional breakouts. The breakout sessions give students “more specialized attention with experts,” said Dr. Andrew DeBoer, head of the UAFS Department of Music and Theatre.
Lolly Swicegood, administrative assistant for UAFS Music says she is excited to see the nearly 100 students make their way to UAFS and Breedlove Auditorium for the week-long camp. “I always love watching the comfort level and camaraderie develop,” she said. “There’s something about being around like-minded people and growing with their creativity and self-confidence.”
The students’ hard work will culminate on Friday, June 16, with a concert conducted by Dr. Alexandra Zacharella at 6 p.m. in the Breedlove Auditorium.
But the end of the week concert doesn’t tell the whole story of the camp’s impact. DeBoer recalls dozens of students who have attended and eventually enrolled at UAFS to continue their education and harmonize with new bandmates and classmates. One such example is Erica Verkamp, who earned her bachelor’s degree in music in 2023.
“She’s been studying with us and coming to this camp since eighth grade,” DeBoer proudly said.
The following week, Tuesday, June 20, the Jazz Band Workshop will begin.
Students already in their high school jazz band or interested in joining jazz band are encouraged to sign up. DeBoer says a student doesn’t have to have a typical jazz instrument to attend, and the workshop is designed for anyone to enjoy and learn.
Friday, June 23, the Jazz Band Workshop concludes with a concert of jazzy tunes also conducted by Zacharella, whose love of jazz has roots in studying with legendary trombonists Bill Watrous and Steve Davis from Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. She brings an exciting fresh perspective to jazz, rock, funk, and Latin Music for students to experience.
Before Friday’s concert, students will gain real-world experience with founder and UAFS associate professor Don Bailey on behalf of the Shane Bailey Memorial Foundation. On Thursday, June 22, students will head to the Bakery District for a live jazz jam session hosted by Rham Cunningham, the district’s “Director of Fun.”
DeBoer looks forward to hosting the largest number of students this summer and “seeing students develop and to keep coming back” for years to come. As the department regains its momentum following the COVID-19 pandemic, DeBoer said he expects to return to three or more camps next summer.

Registration Information:

UAFS Summer Band Camp
Grades 6-12
Dates: June 12 – June 16
Time: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., with evening events and teambuilding to be announced
Location: Breedlove Auditorium
For more information, click here. To register, click here.
UAFS Jazz Band Workshop
Grades 8-12
Dates: June 20 – June 23
Time: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., with evening events and teambuilding to be announced
Location: Breedlove Auditorium
For more information, click here. To register, click here.