There are no HBCUs in Minnesota, so three HBCU grads started a band camp to introduce the culture

During the two-week summer camp, students play instruments and learn discipline and dance.

During the Northside United Summer Band camp, students play instruments, learn dance and discipline. At the end of the two weeks, families and neighbors are invited to watch them perform on the stage of the North Community High School.

The performance is the high-energy, “show style” marching band technique that is popular at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The camp is the brainchild of three art enthusiasts who are also HBCU alumni, the Star Tribune reports.

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The Tennessee State University Aristocrat of Bands marching band performs on Sept. 23, 2016 on the South Lawn of the White House during a reception in honor of the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington. Three graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities teach show-style marching band techniques to Minnesota students during a two-week summer camp. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Minnesota is not home to any HBCUs, so for the second year the three have offered a free marching band camp (including instruments) to Twin Cities students from fifth to 12th grade regardless of musical abilities, the Star Tribune reports.

The two-week camp is the result of a collaborative effort between staff at North Community High and LoveWorks Academy for Visual and Performing Arts, a predominantly black charter school whose students are kindergarteners through eighth grade. Camp leader Arthur Turner III (Shaw University), music teacher D’Shonte Carter, 25, and her husband Deondré Carter (both grads of Virginia State University) — the camp’s drumline instructor — work in different capacities at LoveWorks Academy.

“We hope that we’re igniting the fire that will give them a tool to be able to take their lives from where they currently are to wherever they want to go,” said Turner, executive director of LoveWorks Academy. He grew up in Norfolk, Virginia listening to the Norfolk State University marching band.

Sixteen-year-old DJ Gipson of Maple Grove High School may now feel a little fire. Though he admits to drumming in the school’s music room, he did not want to attend the camp. “My mom forced me to,” he said. But … he believes his mother did the right thing. “I would have just been outside right now, doing nothing.”

As for Terriana Carter-Ricks, the 14-year-old dancer who will start classes at North Community High in the fall, appreciates the “rigor” of the camp. “I like that they push us more.” 

The Carters and Turner believe they “are the only HBCU graduates teaching show-style marching band techniques in Minnesota,” according to the StarTribune.

D’Shonte Carter — a music teacher at LoveWorks Academy where she was once a student of then-music teacher Turner — hopes the performance that will mark the close of this year’s camp will lead to funding for arts programs for the entire year. The students “learn this for two weeks, and then in reality they don’t continue to learn during the school year,” said Carter to whom Turner introduced the marching band style performance during her LoveWorks Academy student days. “And there’s obviously a thirst for that. They want to do this. So do families. So my hope is that we as a state, and as this city, continue to provide these opportunities to students.”

Turner hopes students will see marching band as a pathway to scholarships, college and a successful career.

“Kids fall in love with sports because you hear about the million-dollar contracts. They don’t realize that you can be a principal musician for the orchestra and make pretty good money.”

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