Jun 25, 2012 - Camp the Right Key to Success

By Lorrie Ward

The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame and the University of Tulsa are once again joining forces to present Oklahoma Jazz Camp, a week-long day camp held Monday, July 9 through Friday, July 13 and culminating in a 3 p.m. showcase concert on Saturday, July 14. The camp is for instrumental and vocal music students ranging in age from ninth grade through college and in all levels of musical experience and skill, and will be held on campus at the University of Tulsa.


This is the third year for the camp, which was started by Professor Vernon Howard at TU when he retired from summer teaching at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Interlochen, Michigan. “Between 1975 and 2009, I served as director of jazz studies at Interlochen and recognized the value of offering a specialized camp for gifted and focused students,” says Howard. “Many of my former Interlochen students have gone on to forge successful performing and teaching careers, including Byron Stripling, lead trumpet with Count Basie Orchestra; Conrad Herwig, trombonist and leader of the Mingus Big Band as well as the director of jazz studies at Rutgers University; Tim Ries, saxophonist with the Rolling Stones; Walter White, trumpeter with Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra; Eldar Djangirov, jazz pianist and Sony recording artist; and Norah Jones, Grammy Award winning singer, pianist and songwriter.”

Coweta vocalist Sarah Richardson is a veteran of Oklahoma Jazz Camp. She studied jazz composition for a year after attending the camp and then went on to earn a music major scholarship at TU. Sarah has her own band, performs professionally in jazz clubs, concerts, and at private functions in the Tulsa area. “She is recognized as being one of the most talented and versatile singing talents to come out of the Tulsa metro area in years,” says Howard. “I am very proud of her and excited about the prospects for her blossoming professional career.”

Sarah was among the original 30 students enrolled the first year of Oklahoma Jazz Camp. The number increased to 45 the second summer as word got around. This year, Howard expects at least 50 to 60 students and has added three new faculty positions, as well as additional staff for counseling and teaching, in anticipation of this number. A new class, “Blues Exploration,” has been added to the curriculum this year as well, and will explore the blues and its many styles.

Howard is excited to be able to once again work with the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame to offer this great learning experience for budding artists. “I enjoy the entire process of designing the camp curriculum, talking with prospective students, selecting music, teaching classes and directing the final showcase concert,” he says. “The great reward comes after years have passed and you can look back and see that the camp experience has actually changed the direction of a student’s life in a positive and meaningful way.”

For information on faculty, fees, and possible scholarships, visit