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Get Inspired

What better way to find out more about MWROC than by hearing what it means to people who’ve actually been there and had their lives changed? Here are some stories that are sure to get you inspired.

Hailey FinnHailey Finn (this whole page was her idea, btw)

I attended my first year of MWROC in 2014. I heard about it at my first EYS concert in March of that year. At MWROC, I learned how to express myself through music in a way I never knew I could. I learned how to do so many things with my violin that I didn’t know how to do before. I also learned that I can do whatever I put my mind to. I met a lot of different people from all of the world who shared the same love for music that I did. Camp is like my second home. Everyone at camp has become my family even though we don’t see each other in a daily basis. Everyone is so different yet has so much in common. We all love music. We all express ourselves in different ways.


ClaraKnotts(MWROC)Clara Knotts

Clara Knotts is a PhD candidate in music education with a focus on string pedagogy at Florida State University. Clara is directing the orchestra at Lincoln High School and serving as the string lab instructor/liaison for the FSU string music education majors. She also serves as the 1st violin coach for the Tallahassee Youth Orchestra and maintains a private violin studio.

For 25 years, the majority of my string experience existed within the “traditional-realm” of playing and teaching. I began playing the violin at the age of 8, attended a performing arts high school, received a bachelor’s degree in music education, and taught for 13 1/2 years while simultaneously continuing to perform throughout central Florida until my entire musical world was ‘ROCKED.’ In October of 2011, a colleague told me to call Mark Wood because he would be the person to contact for the best instruments and options. Mark was extremely gracious, allowed me to use a selection of his instruments, and offered to do a clinic and concert with my orchestra. I immediately accepted his offer for a 2-day clinic and concert with my orchestra and I even ordered my own personal 7-string fretted Viper that was ready in time for our EYS event.

After seeing the transformation in my orchestra students and the enrollment skyrocketing, I knew that Mark Wood came into our lives at just the right time and was the change that my students, program, and I needed.

I was finally able to attend the MWROC for the first time in July of 2015 and WOW; it was six-full days of mind-blowing exhilaration. Imagine: being surrounded by young people that are so on fire to play and learn more about making music with their instruments, orchestra teachers that are eager to enhance their instructional “tool kit” and skills, a kind and helpful faculty, and a teaching staff that is second to none; that’s what you get at the MWROC Music Festival.

Every day since saying good-bye to new friends at MWROC, I have worked diligently on the skills and techniques learned during the week and have anticipated my return. This year, I am delighted to share the experience with one of my current students and I look forward to seeing her musical mind blown to the possibilities that she will see and experience at MWROC.

To think that I spent twenty-five years in a very small bubble is crazy. Now I have the opportunity to introduce these type of experiences with my current and future students so their music making potential is limited only by their own creativity. NOW is the time to take action and introduce the experiences Mark Wood provides to all of our friends, family, and colleagues.

Do not delay, it’s time to Electrify Creativity, Passion, and Purpose in all musicians!


Spencer ShoreSpencer Shore

Now, when I say that I wasn’t the kind of person that would love violin, that’s an understatement. I hated it at first. I could never get any of the notes right, and I couldn’t get the instrument to sit comfortably on my neck, and I’m pretty sure that I didn’t know what a bow was. But, as luck would have it, my parents took me to go see this “electric-violin-guy” at the high school. Now, at the time, I was only an impressionable fifth grader, and I only saw this as time taken away from me doing stupid things at the house. I was not happy.

So, before the concert started, I was feeling pretty bored at the beginning when a bunch of Wyoming (Ohio) people started talking. And then Mark Wood came on stage. And when he started the first song, and it was music that actually sounded good, I was amazed. It was interesting, fantastic, and changed my mindset completely.

After the concert, I got to talk to Mark, if fifth-grade blabbering is considered talking, and that led to me getting a brochure for this weird camp in the land of Oz (otherwise known as Kansas). But, as I was way too young to be doing that, I didn’t get to go that year. Or the next year. Or the year after that. This evil cycle continued until I finally got to go when I was 13, a full 4 years after I had first met Mark.

And when I had finally gotten there, it was nothing like I had ever experienced. It was almost as if everybody there was a long-lost friend of mine, there was a constant atmosphere of dedication and love of music, and there was a desire to learn. This had to have been one of the few places where I could really be myself. And I think the only time when someone was really upset was when my friend was told he had to tone down how much milk he was drinking.

MWROC completely changed my life. I created bonds between friends that cannot be broken, and will not be broken. This camp has brought me closer to people who share my passion, and to people who can help me reach my goals.


Grace-OtleyGrace Otley

‘If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.’

As a revelation to this quote by William Shakespeare, if music is the food of love, then MWROC is the plate which provides the accessibility to feed the hunger and passion for music. To merely call MWROC “a summer camp” would be a substantial understatement. It is a life changing experience for any musician with the zeal to perfect their craft in an absolutely idealistic environment.

Each summer, the year-round, anticipated week of merriment starts with a 2 hour plane ride to Olathe, Kansas. After unloading my overpacked, slightly overweight, carry-on suitcase and weapon shaped turquoise Viper, I make my way to Mid-America Nazarene University. Immediately I am greeted with exuberance and friendliness from staff members and students from across the globe. This positivity is a constant theme for the duration of the stay. Throughout the week, I attend classes taught by various musicians of the utmost expertise. Integrated amongst the learning opportunities are endless chances to formulate strong relationships with the students and mentors, especially during spirited, nightly jam sessions.

Unlike any other experiences, at MWROC I feel free to completely express myself amongst a group of humble and non judgmental people. As the gaiety of being immersed in an electrifying string experience comes to an end, I am honored to perform with the people I call family in the final concert.

In the beginning of the week, I enter with the innocence of a an eager student, and by the end, I leave with the proficiency and confidence of an MWROCer!


DebraScott(MWROC)Debra Scott

Debra Scott is a middle school Orchestra teacher in Rockwall, Texas.

I found out about MWROC from Mark Wood, after an EYS program at my school. I was hesitant to attend because I thought it was a camp for kids. Boy, was I wrong!

MWROC is an incredible experience. I have learned so many new things about teaching, playing techniques, how to use technology, and how to teach my students to use technology.

Because I have been able to incorporate these techniques into my teaching, students who were the on the fence about staying in Orchestra now say it’s the best part of their day. They are able to connect to the music and their instruments because it’s relevant to them. On a personal level, I have been challenged musically. I have found myself counting the minutes until I can leave school and get home to practice! All genres of my personal playing have improved and I am back to feeling the immense joy of playing.


William WyantWilliam Wyant

I found MWROC kind of by accident. My mom worked at my old middle school, and one of her students asked for us to attend an EYS performance. We got the chance to speak to Mark afterward, and he seemed, I dunno, intrigued by me? He told me about his camp, one thing led to another, and here I am signing up for a third consecutive year.

Camp really changed my life. My ability as a musician blossoms every year I go back, and I always leave with a new drive and enthusiasm. Total strangers became best friends over one meal. I find myself constantly missing the people I’ve met there. The atmosphere is just so encouraging and welcoming, and I really feel at home there. It’s a sort of completeness that I’ve felt maybe four or five times in my whole life. They really are a family there, and it’s a world all its own.


Sam KahreSam Kahre

I’ve been fortunate to go to MWROC for the past 3 years. It’s one week of the year that makes all the other weeks bearable.

I play the cello and have been classically trained since I was 7. When I was 13, my mom pulled up the MWROC website and asked me if I wanted to go. It didn’t sound like any other music camp I’d gone to so I wasn’t really sure. I’m so grateful she said “go one year and just see what you think.” The first year was UNBELIEVABLE!!! I’ve never been around so many cool, fun, talented, excited musicians.

I was surprised that so many music educators were there as students, I think that says a lot about that level of instruction. The faculty is the best of the best…Berkley, Juilliard, professional rockers, classical virtuosos. The level of talent I got to play with and caliber of instruction I received was phenomenal.

The 2nd year was even better, maybe because I knew what to expect. I couldn’t wait to see my rockin’ musician friends. For me, 2015 (3rd year) was without question the best experience yet. They added a Dream Theater ensemble that blew me away!

I want to share the unselfish, authentic commitment they taught me to help other musicians reach their dream. MWROC empowers you to play it forward!


Brianna-AcevedoBrianna Acevedo

I love camp because it was the first time in my life that I had people who related to me and loved the same things I do. It was first time I felt alive and happy and was able to be myself. I found out about camp when Mark Wood camp to my school when I was in 8th grade. After that, I befriended Dr. David Wallace [head of the string department at Berklee] who continuously influenced me to go to MWROC and after years of hoping, I finally followed Doc’s word and went to camp. People should go to camp because you truly find yourself. You become who you truly are and it’s an amazing way to express and share yourself. It’s incredibly educational & helpful musically and on top of that, it’s the most fun you’ll have all year!


Noah-GruenbergNoah Gruenberg (headbanger on left)

I like MWROC because MWROC likes me. It’s a place where I’m allowed to be the me I’ve always wanted to be and the develop friendships deeper than the ocean blue. Its a haven of creativity that futures musicality and expression. I found out about it like most people; I met Mark [at an EYS event] and he liked me because of my spunk and hair.

If you like to have fun, meet great people, better yourself, and eat surprisingly good meals made by a killer staff, come on down. I’ll show you around myself.


Joe DeninzonJoe Deninzon, MWROC Artist Mentor

When I was 17, I was a misfit at my high school A violin nerd who had a deep love for Led Zeppelin,. Rush, Kiss, ACDC, Zappa, and wanted to rock out! If only a camp like this existed when I was 17, I would have been all over it! I see my younger self in every kid who attends. There really is a familial atmosphere and I have made lasting friendships with campers, teachers, and fellow colleagues who are a part of this incredible experience! It is not just for string geeks; Guitarists, bassists, singers, drummers, keyboard players, teachers and students of all ages are welcome! I can’t speak enough about what a game changer this week has been for so many musicians and can be for you!


Grace Berzina

I found out about camp because EYS came to my school in 6th grade and 8th grade. I love MWROC because it takes you in for who you are. You feel accepted and valued. You share almost all the same interests with everyone. I love the faculty and guest performers that come in. Every year is a new experience. I made new friends every day I was there. I love the classes that are provided. I also absolutely loved Chuck’s combo group. The combo groups [smaller ensembles] made me feel like I had a more personal experience than just being in a big orchestra. MWROC has all the rockers, misfits, rebels, freaks and weirdos of every orchestra and chorus class around, and puts us in one big room to go absolutely crazy. MWROC is a place for everyone.


Jared-TylerJared Tyler

So, my orchestra teacher all the way from 6th grade to the present is one of the camp counselors, Jeremy Samuel. He suggested to the class that we go to MWROC and so I listened to him, and I’m super glad that I did! I still remember my first day, it was terrifying at first, but when Mark came and talked to me, I knew I belonged. I love MWROC because of the nature of it all. Everybody feels welcomed and loved. There was A LOT of hard work involved but everyone made it feel so much easier and it was all worth it because each year gets better and better!