Music Camp International (MCI) is exactly what it says: a musical camp that works all over the world and follows an instruction methodology developed by American musician, pedagogue and child development specialist Connie Fortunato. Her approach is built on more than 40 years of research and musical instruction for around 50,000 children. In 2003, Connie organised the first Music Camp in Ukraine. Since then, more than 50 camps have taken place her, attended by more than 15,000 children.

MCI has one team of teachers which can work in one camp during one school break in one city. MCI's goal is to expand our teaching corps to two teams in order to be able to hold two camps simultaneously. In order to prepare more teachers, they decided to organise a national training session and applied for support from Culture Bridges.

The project's main event – the National Teachers' Training Course in Kyiv – saw 45 music teachers in attendance (more than planned), with 15 of those coming from other Ukrainian cities. That widespread interest is a valuable contribution by MCI to the development of our national cultural diversity. The training received by the session participants (interns) was put to work during subsequent musical camps. Teachers will also be applying the methods learned during their work outside the camps.

There were four musical camps in all, with a total of 405 children registered for instruction by our 14 current teachers and 6 new interns.

4 concerts were held on large stages in Voznesensk, Kamyanets-Podilsky, Zhytomyr and Chervonohrad, and accompanied by local professional orchestras (Khmelnytsky Philharmonic, Mykolaiv Philharmonic, Lviv's LeoBand Orchestra, and the Zhytomyr Symphony Orchestra.


These organisations initiated the invitation to the MCI team. At present, community foundations have an active "word of mouth" network operating in which information on projects is readily exchanged. It was due to the activity of this network that MCI was able to put together a schedule of music camps set for mid-2021.

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11–15 y. o. age of the camps participants

80% of participants had never played a musical instrument or sung in a choir

13 children maximum number of children in each MCI class

3 types instruments for learning (string, percussion, brass)

On average, 80% of children who attended the camps had never played a musical instrument or sung in a choir. During the camp, each child learns to play two instruments. Typically, we offer the following instruments for instruction: guitar, violin, cello, chimes, handbells, and soprano and alto flutes. We arranged them to produce a pleasant harmony on the stage. And though a lot of campers wanted to try the guitar – such a cool instrument – no one refused when we offered them to try something else, like handbells.

Already by Day 3 or 4, the campers are starting to work on the performance of an instrumental work together – a powerful bridgebuilder. They have to listen to others playing their parts, often waiting their turn and learning to support each other. This is also truly a social skills laboratory.

The camp consists of two instrumental classes and three choral rehearsals. While half the children are engaged in choir practice, the other half are in instrumental instruction. We have a maximum of 13 children in any one class where they are given exercises in rhythm and taught to master an instrument. They also are taught to learn to read music – at least for the piece they'll be performing. Finally, we bring the separate instrumental groups together to help them learn to synthesize their sounds.

Dasha Belyanskaya, Ukrainian representative of Connie Fortunato – coordinator of Music Camp International

"We devote a lot of attention in our camps to creating a positive, dynamic environment in which a child can feel safe and is ready to open up and develop their talent. When you ask children what it's like to study here, they typically answer: "You know, they don't yell at us here." In addition, we'll also never tell a child "you're not ready for this" or "that's the wrong way." Our teachers make it clear that mistakes are normal and helps you learn that you can handle anything. The children are confident they'll get help and so they're ready to work and they figure it out. And what they get from that experience of accomplishment is priceless."

Connie Fortunato, founder and director of Music Camp International

"I've devoted my life to children and to music  to help them look deep inside themselves in order to discover their talents. This isn't a test of whether there's talent or not. I don't think adults have any right to tell a child, "you're not talented." I think it's so harmful. Our job, our responsibility, as adults, teachers, parents and community leaders – is to help kids let out their talent, develop their dreams and inspire them to greater achievements, always looking for ways to help them along. That's why music is so important. A smile on the face of a children is the greatest reward for us. To watch them working together, communicating, building bridges and dreaming new dreams. They're inspired, they work hard and they accomplish so much. It's such an incredible story."

Photo: Music Camp International