From the street, the Correia Middle School campus in Ocean Beach looks like any other school during summer vacation: no one around, things seem quiet.
But get a little closer and you’ll quickly discover that there are plenty of people around — and it’s anything but quiet.
“Music incorporates everything,” said Dean Hickman, the camp director of Band at the Beach.
“It is the one art form that calls upon both sides of the brain to operate at the same time,” Hickman said.
Of course, the left side of the brain controls logic and rhythm. The right is where creativity and expression come from.
The combining of those two sides of the brain plays out here in Correia’s band room. Students from grades 7 through 12 go through intense practice for a full week at this camp, which does have a name. It’s found on the back of a Jeep in the Correia parking lot: Band at the Beach.
It’s a red Jeep that belongs to a redhead, Dell Schroeder. The now-retired music teacher founded this sonorous celebration in 1990 and, all these years later, she’s still right there in the thick of things, playing right along with everybody else.
“I love to play with the kids. It’s fun — it makes me do better,” Schroeder said.
When asked what she gets out of doing the yearly camp, Schroeder’s answer was simple.
“There’s a three-letter word for that,” she said. “It’s called ‘joy.'”
“I just graduated Coronado High School. I’m going to be attending SDSU in the fall,” trumpet player Skye Streightiff said.
But, before he officially becomes an Aztec, the 17-year old Streightiff is contributing his skills to the Band at the Beach. And the trumpet is just one of 15 instruments he plays.
We asked Streightiff what he gets out of music in general, no matter which one of those 15 instruments he’s playing.
“Communication. I can definitely express any emotion that I’m going through, anything that I’m dealing with, using music,” he said.
Fifteen-year old Maggie McAteer plays the alto saxophone. Band at the Beach allows her to practice over the summer and “work with really good professionals who can help me get better,” she said. “And so I think that’s really the appeal for me.”
Those professionals are the older folks in the band room — each one a music teacher who leads the various sections.
Apart from the pure joy of making music, Streightiff and McAteer agree on another benefit of Band at the Beach.
“You build a sort of community, ’cause there’s the people, even if you don’t necessarily go to the same school as them. … You get to meet a lot of wonderful people,” McAteer said.
Wonderful people, music makers. In the words of poet Arthur O’Shaughnessy, the dreamers of dreams.
All of that hard work from this week will culminate in the Correia Middle School theater on Friday at 3 p.m. The concert is free. Correia Middle School is located at 4302 Valeta St. in Ocean Beach.