Red Clay Roots Music Camp
Originally published in the Summer 2019 issue of SPOKE+BLOSSOM
For the second year in a row, Eric Law of Erth Studios brought a group of his professional music colleagues from around the country to teach at Red Clay Roots Summer Strings Camp from July 24-27 at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction. Up to 75 middle and high school string students rehearsed under the direction of a hand-selected faculty with an impressive collective resume, including work with Eminem, Hanson, Willie Nelson and Disney.
Law’s unique, award-winning approach to music education is a departure from classical methods — it focuses heavily on improvisation and contemporary genres. It is the inspiration behind the summer camp and his teaching studio.
“The most special part of this stacked and diverse line-up of faculty is that we’ve all performed together very extensively,” says violinist Josh Knowles, also noting that they are all very good friends. “It’s always been a priority of mine to delve into as many genres and playing styles as possible. As I’ve gotten older though, I definitely appreciate the technical foundation I was given to do this through classical training. I think striking a unique balance between the two is the new and exciting challenge of our generation of string teachers.”
Adrianna Ciccone is also a violinist with a combination of classical and Ottawa Fiddle Tradition training. She and Law worked together on her award-winning album, “The Back of Winter,” which is available on iTunes. “I love introducing children who have a traditional classical background to the freedom of learning by ear and creating their own music through improvisation,” Ciccone says. “It doesn’t have to be a scary process, and in fact, is pretty freeing when you realize there really aren’t any wrong notes!” The friends Ciccone made at fiddle camps growing up have been her biggest musical inspirations and are some of her closest friends to this day.
“Gosh. I wish I would have had the opportunity to focus on improvisation and pop music as a kid. I would have devoured it,” says cellist Ro Rowan. “I had no awareness of or exposure to string players doing anything but classical music. I was the young cellist looking around the orchestras I grew up playing in feeling like I did not belong. I would practice just long enough to race into my room and transcribe Alphaville and Peter Schilling synth parts.” Most recently, Ro performed in FOX’s production of “Rent: Live.”
“The gift I wanted to give to the Grand Valley is an opportunity to study with this powerhouse faculty,” says Law, noting that no time is wasted on the unmusical in the camp schedule. “These are long days, and we’re really heavy on the music aspect. It’s not one of those camps where you play music a little bit and then go hike in the woods; it’s music from 8 to 8!”
To learn more about the faculty, visit redclayroots.org.