Watch now: Decatur’s Salvation Army music conservatory encourage local youth | Education

DECATUR — Summer is no time for children to put down their musical instruments.

Kensi Clynes, 10, sings and plays the trumpet. She spent the week practicing at the Salvation Army’s Northern and Central Illinois Division Music Conservatory. As an incoming fifth grader, Kensi has few opportunities to play different instruments. “And I’m glad to get out of the house,” she said.

Major Burries, 12, has been playing drums for almost two years. “It flows pretty nicely,” he said of the conservatory. “It’s not so hard.”

More than 30 young musicians from the conservatory performed a mini-concert during a Thursday luncheon for Decatur’s home league women in the Salvation Army. The young musicians said they were not afraid of the performance.

“I wrote everything down,” Major said.

“I’ve done these things before,” Kensi added.

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The program, which consisted of school-age children, was called the Heartland Division. After the directors merged with the Chicago area programs, the name was changed to the North and Central Illinois Division. Music Director Peter Kim directs the conservatory with various Salvation Army youth bands throughout the Midwest. The next conservatory will be in Champaign. Students meet for almost a week to learn different musical instruments.

“The reason is because they have a great time through music and discover their talents through music,” Kim said.

The youngsters who play with the Decatur Salvation Army Band have performed together in the past. They recently completed an eight-day camp in Peoria with nearly 140 other students.

According to Lt. Shanell Debela the previous camp prepared her for the local conservatory. “It was an eight-day boot camp,” she said. “So you’re ready, that’s easy.”

During the Conservatory and other Salvation Army camps, students learn the instruments and music theory, as well as discipline and concentration skills.

Datrice Weathers, youth director for The Salvation Army, encourages students, especially when they are struggling. “You can rest, but you must not stop,” she said. “You can sound great as a beginner and you don’t have to be perfect to perform.”

The local conservatory started on Tuesday. With just two days of lessons, many of the students were able to learn the basics of a new instrument. “They’re already performing,” Kim said.

The autumn winter garden is planned for September. “We’re trying to expand this program so we can reach as many children as possible,” Kim said. “Otherwise we wouldn’t have the opportunity.”

Contact Donnette Beckett at (217) 421-6983. Follow her on Twitter: @donnettebHR

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