Thursday, 21 September 2017
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So You Wanna Be a Musician? Sign up for Del Couch’s Summer Camp

So You Wanna Be a Musician?  Sign up for Del Couch’s Summer Camp

If your child or teen has any inclination toward wanting to sing, play, and perform, the  “So you Wanna Be a Musician” 2017 Summer Camp at the Del Couch Music Education Foundation is a one-of-a-kind program, comparable to nothing in the U.S. that Del’s aware of.  Set in Del’s world class recording studio at Manatee School for the Arts, some students having been trained at the foundation are living lives as paid musicians or musical engineers and a few have world-wide recognition.

“See this? Kids go crazy when they learn it’s a $5,000 professional microphone,” Del said as he ran around showing me all of his impressive electronics, computers and other bells and whistles as students were busy rehearsing in a rock band, producing and recording. I was excited and impressed at this little hidden gem tucked away in a charter school.

The camp, which runs July 17 – 21 and July 23 – 28, will teach real world skills that lead to becoming a professional musician to students ages 8 to 19. Among the classes and activities are: music theory, accompanying, open jams, music production, social media, marketing and branding, booking gigs and commercial skills.

“We always give individual attention here, because not every child is the same,” Del says. “We assess their interests and needs and talents and help them hone those.” The camp will be accepting up to 50 students only this year he said.

Del Couch with his students

The Del Couch Musical Education Foundation launched in 2012 when Del moved all of his equipment into the Manatee School for the Arts in Palmetto, Fl. With a ‘world class’ recording studio, dozens of Mac computers and high-end microphones and more, students are truly blessed with this high-tech opportunity to learn about real world music and production.

Rock legend Rick Derringer, a local friend of Del’s, told him, “This is the Little League of music…I wish I had this growing up.”

Del doesn’t get paid for his position as Director of the Foundation. He works seven days a week for no compensation, helping 40 kids or more pursue their musical dreams every year…because he says he’s “giving back.” A career musician himself, Del was a trumpet player in the U.S. Air Force Band for three years among many other accomplishments.

Del does pay his coaches and music teachers however, and some of them are Grammy Award winners while others hold PhD’s. “I also wanted to support local musicians, paying them for teaching,” Del said. It’s all part of his mission for the Foundation.

The Del Couch Musical Education Foundation

“Billy Rice (lead singer/guitarist for the popular Billy Rice Band) was a big factor in helping me start this,” Del said. “He’s always been a great philanthropist.” As Del collects monies from community organizations, private donations and secures small grants, he says he manages to ‘squeak by’ in funding the program.

“Whatever a student or the foundation needs, I generally find a way to pay for it,” Del says. But he realizes his legacy – a phenomenal accomplishment - is precariously based on his own shoulders and that he needs to hire a development director, one of his goals for next year, and eventually find someone to run the Foundation, which could very well be a couple of his accomplished students. He also plans to use his ‘connections’ in the music industry to make appeals for fundraisers. One such connection is…Santana!

“Can you imagine if Santana played a benefit concert – we’d have all the funds we’d need!” Del said with stars in his humble eyes. Del also has a meeting set up with George Lucas at Skywalker Sound this summer. Talk about some heavy hitters.

Alumni of the Del Couch Music Education Foundation include Sam Woolf of American Idol fame. Sam is actively writing songs and performing around the country. Matt Walden is a “social media star” Del said, with two of his songs charting on I-Tunes worldwide. Del says this launched Matt’s career and he’s touring internationally.

Current Foundation students are out performing regularly, including a Sunday gig at Mattison’s restaurant on the Riverwalk in Bradenton. Intern engineers are running the show and approximately six students perform weekly. Del feels it’s a very important part of the program to encourage the students to perform to live audiences.

Other students are building their electronic press kits, producing their own CDs, and one – Isabella Bank - is directing, recording and producing an opera that she sang for at Vatican in Rome. She’s only 13 years old.

Manatee School for the Arts

What is Del most proud of?
 “Seeing the smile on those faces when they’re up performing is the very best,” he said. He’s also very proud that of  raising enough funds to send five Foundation students on a scholarship to Berkley School of Music this summer. These students will be around the best of the best, and they’ll return to tell their stories to the summer camp kids.

Del has hundreds of success stories, as each year he teaches 40 or more kids how to be musicians. Be certain to sign up for this summer camp and let your children or young adults do more than playing in the garage and dreaming about becoming a rock star. The cost is $500 for both weeks and $275 for one week. Del says if you can’t afford it, give them what you can or ask for a scholarship. However, they have offered 15 at this point for the summer program.

To sign up for the Summer Camp or for more information on the Del Couch Music Education Foundation, visit www.delcouchmusiceducationfoundation.org or call 941-545-4379. The camp is held in the Foundation studio at the Manatee School for the Arts, 700 Haben Blvd., Palmetto. Also check out the alumni: Sam Woolf https://www.youtube.com/user/SamWoolfMusic; and Matt Walden, https://www.youtube.com/user/MattWaldenAcoustic

Photos by Patti Pearson

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