Reaching Heights Summer Music Camp celebrates 10th year

Campers, counselors and music teachers rehearse for the camp's 2013 finale concert.

A week of immersion in music exploration can turn beginning instrumentalists into confident performers and inspired learners. That’s what happens each year at the Reaching Heights Summer Music Camp, which will take place for the tenth consecutive year at Wiley Middle School from June 16–21.

The public is invited to the camp's free finale concert on Saturday, June 21 at 10:30 a.m., at Wiley Middle School, 2181 Miramar Blvd.

“Campers learn the life changing lesson that sustained effort allows them to do things they never imagined! After seven hours of music making, most campers go home and practice more. It lights a fire,” said Susie Kaeser, camp director.  

Reaching Heights, a community support organization for the Cleveland Heights–University Heights school district, sponsors the camp and gathers a diverse musical team to create the week-long musical experience. Daniel Heim, Heights High orchestra director, serves as conductor and music director. District music teachers Tamar Gray, Betsy Neylon and Bob Adamson are part of the leadership team. The rest of the professional staff includes alumni of the Heights schools music program and local music professionals, including Cleveland Orchestra member Richard Waugh.

Up to 90 elementary and middle school instrumentalists participate, and 20 Heights High School student musicians serve as coaches. Donations from individuals make it possible to offer scholarship assistance so that any motivated young musician who lives in the school district is able to participate.

“This is a wonderful community project. We’ve developed a cadre of local musicians who are both experts on their instruments, and engaging teachers. The campers are thrilled to know their teachers attended the same schools they did. The result is a creative, supportive, demanding, fast-moving and fun experience,” said Kaeser, who, along with Tamar Gray and Betsy Neylon, founded the camp in 2004.

The camp day includes two full orchestra and sectional rehearsals, master classes, music theory, chamber groups and daily mini recitals. Each camper can elect to explore other musical options such as jazz, guitar, African drumming and vocal. Outdoor time, lunch, and arts and crafts complete the day.

“We are grateful to the families and donors who support musical learning. A first-time grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture affirms the value of our efforts and will help us reach out to include the whole community in our finale concert. We intend to make this a reunion event for previous campers. The kids deserve a great audience and concertgoers are guaranteed a great performance,” said Kaeser.

Music education is a priority for Reaching Heights, the 25-year-old nonprofit formed to mobilize community resources to foster highly valued public schools that provide all CH–UH district students a successful education.

For more information, call 216-932-5110 or e-mail

Krista Hawthorne

Krista Hawthorne is executive director of Reaching Heights.

Read More on A & E News
Volume 7, Issue 6, Posted 9:31 AM, 05.30.2014