Now bigger and better than ever, Upper Darby’s Musicman Camps launched its 10th anniversary programs

Some space is still available in the remaining special needs program

Now celebrating its tenth year, Upper Darby’s premiere summer music camp experience, the Brad Schoener MusicMan Academy, has already begun with a fanfare. The summer kicked off with the flagship program, MusicMan Camp, and will be pushing forward with Jazz Jam! camp, MusicMan Butterfly Buddy adaptive creative arts camp for children with special needs, and Stay in Shape summer music lessons.

This year, Brad Schoener MusicMan Camp welcomed a record number of 90 campers to Drexel Hill Middle School. Over the course of two weeks, students participated in instrumental sectionals, masterclass workshops with professional musicians, and many other opportunities to broaden their instrumental horizons. MusicMan Camp is unlike any other summer music program, and campers even attended yoga sessions to practice breath control, learn how to remain calm, and reduce anxiety about performing.

Throughout the course of the first week, campers had the chance to not only hear professional musicians play, but also to learn from them. These professional musicians included Al Chez from David Letterman’s “Late Night” Band & Tower of Power, “Nashville’s Best Fiddler” Ryan Joseph who is currently on tour with Alan Jackson, and former member of the Philadelphia Orchestra Cynthia Campetti. Campers also explored a variety of instruments at an instrument “petting zoo” brought to MusicMan Camp by Yamaha, and even engaged in a masterclass with a harp, an instrument which was entirely new to many of the campers.The camp culminated in a final showcase on July 1st where students performed for their parents and fellow campers.

“I’m thrilled at the success of our tenth anniversary session of the MusicMan Camp, and it’s exciting to see this program grow so rapidly every year,” remarked Upper Darby Arts & Education Foundation Director of Creative Educational Programs and Founder of the Brad Schoener MusicMan Academy, Jennifer Schoener. “What’s even more exciting is the chance to build on that success over the next few weeks with the amazing group of staff and campers set to join us for the rest of our incredible program.”

From July 11th-15th, MusicMan Academy will indeed build on its success with its Jazz Jam! Camp. Jazz Jam! Camp is a week-long jazz camp for elementary and middle school band students who have at least two years of experience with their instrument. Jazz Jam! director Hiruy Tirfe is not only an extremely successful professional musician and saxophonist, but also an Upper Darby alum and former student of Brad Schoener.

Tirfe will be joined by Dr. Stephen Selfridge, who will be adding a digital component to camp through personal recording studios that will allow students to dabble in digital music design. Jazz Jam! also presents masterclasses led by professionals Gerald Veasley, Micah Graves, and Lionel Forrester Jr. This year’s Jazz Jam! featured guest is former lead of the band Utopia and 2021 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Todd Rundgren.

MusicMan Academy is also proud to present the second year of its Butterfly Buddy Camp, an adaptive creative arts camp for children with special needs. The first week-long session of camp will take place in the afternoons of July 25th-29th for students in grades 6-8, while the second session will take place in the mornings of August 1st-5th for grades 2-5. Both sessions will be held at Primos Elementary School, and registration is currently open.

Butterfly Buddy Camp operates under the guidance of certified art, music, and dance therapists, as well as qualified music educators. Every camper is paired with a high school volunteer “buddy” who is trained ahead of time as to the specific needs of each student. Campers and “buddies” alike will learn how to express themselves and connect with each other through music, dance, and having a great time with one another.

“The special needs community is an underserved community, and we have found that they have flourished when receiving this specialized attention in our program. It was important to us to expand to students with special needs so that our programs could truly reach all kids,” Schoener remarked. “Whether it’s by uniting jazz, country, and classical together or by uniting different countries, or by uniting people from all ages, music is meant to bring people together. With any program we create, the question is always ‘how will this bring people together in the community, and how does this reach the entire community?”’

The Brad Schoener Memorial Music Fund was created to honor Upper Darby teaching legend Brad Schoener, and funds all Musicman Academy programs. MusicMan is also proud to partner with the Royal Butterfly Special Needs Fund, and with the Pennsylvania Department of Education on the Butterfly Buddy Camp. The Musicman Academy programs are all part of the Upper Darby Arts and Education Foundation.

Registration for Butterfly Buddy Camp and more information about MusicMan Academy camps may be found by clicking here or at


Thomas Pack

Director of Operations, Upper Darby Arts and Education Foundation

[email protected]


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