Gideon Marcus…..The North County Academy of Music Performance (NCAMP), one of Vista’s lesser known treasures, is revving to start another 6-week session of classes starting the week of February 24, 2014.
Operating for nearly a decade out of its custom-designed facility near the intersection of S. Santa Fe and Civic Center Drive, NCAMP is a non-profit music classroom, performance training, and gig-booking studio for kids and grown-ups of all ages.
NCAMP is the brainchild of semi-retired instructors Ted Best and John Pramas, who saw a need in the community for a way for kids to practically apply their scholastic and private music training.
“Private lessons are only half of it. Performance is the other half,” Best explained before a class on Valentine’s Day. “A lot of kids are not getting the opportunity to do that. They just take lessons with no real end in sight.”
What started as a summer program in 2005 quickly expanded. The curriculum now includes ongoing after-school classes, all-day lessons on Friday for children who are off from school that day, a jazz lab, a teen rock band, and an adult rock band. The children’s groups focus primarily on skills while the sessions for adults are designed to get individuals together who lack the time to find a band to play with.
Best, a professional musician for three decades, maintains relationships with venues throughout the county to ensure that each band has several live performances during the course of a 6-week session.
“Because it’s a non-profit and because we’re happy to do a gig on a night that a club might not normally have live music… most of those club owners are pretty receptive.” NCAMP maintains an exacting oversight of the venue conditions to ensure that its classes have solid equipment and a safe performing environment.
Because of the myriad of instruments and instructors available at the academy, students are able to learn every instrument in a band’s repertoire.
“I like that I get to be free and do whatever I feel like doing,” 11-year old Friday class student Jeremy Bazter said. “I’ve learned a lot.”
12-year old Zach Scott agreed, “I like that you can make new friends here and you can also do the instrument that you’ve always been wanting to do.”
NCAMP boasts its share of success stories, from the San Marcos High School student who went from NCAMP Jazz Lab to Berkeley University, to the two pre-teens that just went pro. Others move on to teach in the very classes in which they were trained. Tony Modenessi learned at the center and then signed on as instructor for the after-school class in 2012.
“I love doing this–it’s not a job that many people get to do, ” Modenessi said on Valentine’s Day. ” I’m in School of Rock every day of my life.”
Marlene Orozco is also a student turned teacher. “It’s like a second home,” she said with a smile as she worked with Modenessi to set up instruments for the Valentine’s Day children’s class. “At the end of the day, when they do their performance, it is really an amazing feeling that you were such a big part of helping them accomplish that.”
Of course, most of the students aren’t destined for superstardom, but that isn’t the point of NCAMP.
“Music performance is the thrust of the non-profit. Give them a chance to play and a place to do it,” Best said.
More information about the classes starting this week can be found at the North County Academy of Music Performance website: http://www.ncamp.net/