Curriculum at Bow-Dacious Camp

We like to switch activities frequently to give everyone a variety of experiences and keep everyone on their toes! Here’s a rundown of the week:

Morning Sessions

  • Group jam at Bow-Dacious camp

    Group jam at Bow-Dacious camp

    Musicianship skills: The day starts with fast-paced warm-ups on interval training, rhythm drills, learning to hear harmonic progressions, and sol fege. And let’s not forget the trivia question of the day!

  • Big group rehearsal: Everyone working together in one large group. We’ll work on our ensemble skills and create arrangements for our end-of-week performances.
  • Sectionals: That’s where we break up into groups by instrument, age, and skill level to work on tunes. Since we’re all at different levels of development, we will break into smaller groups (we average 5-10 students per teacher) to work on tunes, technique, and theory skills. This will help your teachers make sure that everyone is challenged just the right amount. This way you can learn at your own speed; you still get to play with lots of friends at big group rehearsal and in jam sessions.
  • Playing by ear/string theory: Melody instrument players have the opportunity to learn old-time fiddle tunes in a traditional “no sheet music” format, and rhythm instrument players learn the ins and outs of improvising accompaniments based on chord changes. Sometimes we read, sometimes we play by ear. You’ll get great experience and help with both ways of learning tunes!

Afternoon electives: We’re still firming up our selection of electives, but here are examples of what you might have to choose from:

  • Bow-Dacious String Band camp accordions

    Violinists trying the accordion at Bow-Dacious camp

    Various fiddle styles: We’ll be working on a wide variety of styles and genres, depending on the specialties of our faculty fiddlers. Some possibilities include old-time fiddling, blues, jazz, swing, klezmer, classic rock, and more.

  • Art class: You can express yourself in a different medium at art class. The visual arts have many of the same elements as music: form, rhythm, color, flow, dynamics. Both deal with a conceptual understanding of something that is non-verbal.
  • Guided jams: with a staff member leading the jam. Jamming is a very important element of summer camp. It provides a social context for the tunes we’re learning and reinforces the tunes through repetition. In addition, jamming gives us opportunities for individual music expression within a group setting. Besides, it’s FUN!! You can also arrange your own jams during breaks.
  • These campers took the Tai Kwon Do elective at camp

    These campers took the Tai Kwon Do elective at camp

    Try a new instrument: A teacher will help you check out playing another stringed instrument, harmonica, maybe even accordion!

  • Tai Kwon Do Your body is part of your instrument–learn another way to connect with yourself as you move through space
  • Circus skills: Try your hand at juggling, balancing, and other fun tricks!

Gigs for 2016 camp:

  • Friday, July 15: Brown bag performance at The Urbana Free Library at noon!
  • Saturday, July 16: The traditional end-of-camp performance for our families. 10;00 AM at the Lincoln Square Food Court.

More about instrumental techniques

Violin, viola, cello, bass:

  • We’ll work on both right and left hand techniques.
  • Bowing patterns
  • Special articulations
  • Cool slapping and scraping styles of many sorts
  • Slides, special vibrato, and other ornaments
  • Drones and double stops
  • Accompanying
  • Reading chord changes
  • Non-standard techniques as they are needed for our music.


  • basic “clawhammer” or “frailing” technique
  • old-time dance tune repertoire
  • playing with fiddlers
  • more advanced techniques, including drop-thumbing, 5th string fretting, and melodic style.


We will present intensive guitar workshops in a number of different styles, designed around campers’ musical interests.

  • Learn accompaniment patterns in various styles
  • Fingerpicking patterns
  • Flat-picking, bluegrass
  • Blues, Jazz, and Swing styles
  • Improvisation

Teacher Workshops: Teachers will have opportunities to learn too. Please visit Teachers’ Summer Camp for more information.