Bay Atlantic Symphony’s Blind Children’s Camp

The Bay Atlantic Symphony has forged a partnership with the Helen L. Diller Vacation Home for Blind Children in Avalon, New Jersey, to bring the world of music to visually impaired children.

For this eight-week summer program, which runs from mid-June to the second week in August, a Bay Atlantic Symphony musician meets each week with a new group of 20 to 25 children from the summer camp to explore the joy of music. The children, aged five to 12, learn music dynamics and get to participate in creating an orchestra and performing.

For last summer’s program, Symphony flutist Beverly Pugh Corry is helping the campers create a “Hobo Band” or, as she prefers to call it, a “Recycled Orchestra.” Corry works with the campers and counselors to create and try out instruments representing the four sections of the orchestra—strings, wind, brass and percussion.

“We use recycled bottles, strings, sticks, and rolls from toilet paper and gift wrap, as well as simple household items,” Corry says, noting that other musicians have donated used drum sticks and broken violin, guitar and harp strings and buttons. Other items were obtained from dollar stores.

“With just ordinary plastic shoe boxes, strings, buttons, and a little duct tape, the kids have great fun making a string instrument that can actually play,” she adds. Drums can be made with a little cloth, duct tape, and a big upside-down plastic basket. Wind instruments are created from tuned plastic soda bottles or a cut garden hose with a funnel at the end.

“Sometimes the kids use their imaginations to hand-craft their own unique instruments,” Corry says. “In the end, they are so excited about being able to keep the instruments they made.”

Corry, a Hopewell Township resident and also a flute instructor at the Perkins Center for the Arts in Moorestown, has seen this partnership between the Bay-Atlantic Symphony and the camp for the blind grow over the past three years. “The first year, we concentrated on flute and percussion,” she says. “The second year, the children played along with me on recorders that I brought. I also showed them Braille musical notation.”

 “Our philosophy is to eliminate or lower barriers to attendances to concerts, programs and educational experiences,” says Bay Atlantic Symphony Music Director Jed Gaylin. “These outreach programs have helped to bring classical music to new audiences, and new audiences to classical music. They have brought the pleasure of a musical experience to those who cannot take such a thing for granted.”