Mel Nieva is convinced that musical performance is all about confidence and being yourself.
The 30-year-old singer and music instructor remembers the vocal lessons she took from the Chilliwack Academy of Music, the guitar lessons from Jeff Bowman, and the piano instruction from Pauline Harms.
She grew up honing her musical chops in Chilliwack.
These days she lives in East Van and is paying it all forward.
She’s teaching music in West and North Vancouver, as well as offering a Summer Rock Camp experience for girls in North Van.
This summer she’s launching a Glee Camp from the old Arts Centre on Henderson.
“The trend in recent years is toward rock camp,” she explains. “This year I had the idea of doing a glee camp. I found tons of my vocal students had been inspired by the hit TV show, Glee.”
She wanted to bring a vocal camp experience to Chilliwack too, because she knows it has a thriving arts community. The Chilliwack Glee Camp will run July 25-29, for aspiring young musicians of all ages.
Nieva carefully picked the songs they’ll be doing.
“We’ll be doing one musical theatre tune, one contemporary pop tune, and one mashup, or medley of pop tunes.”
The plan is for her “gleeks” aged 11 and up, to do one hour of voice and one hour of dance daily, with a break in between.
“Chilliwack has great resources, like Jeff Bonner of Tractorgrease Studios. I think it’s the best way to get young people inspired, to get them used to performance and being filmed.”
Over the four days, they’ll practise singing with the ensemble, and singing with choreography, but it’s more than just practising. It’s also about raising self-esteem in the performers, Nieva underlined.
At the end of the camp, they’ll be recording with a live band behind them.
Learning to feel comfortable on stage is part of the training.
“It has to do with being confident while performing and being yourself,” she said. “I try to reiterate that and make it fun. I was always stressed out performing at the piano, so I want to make it fun for my kids.”
She’s also into providing a platform for young dance teachers and choreographers.
“A lot of people gave me that opportunity, so I feel the need to do it as well.”
It can be a transformative experience for young performers.
“Just put a drum kit behind any kid and suddenly they’re a rock star. It gives them momentum, and you can see the realization dawning on their faces.”
Chilliwack Glee Camp, July 25-29, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the old Arts Centre on Henderson. Registration deadline is Thursday, June 30. For details call Nieva 604-761-5669 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.