Summer at Oakland Feather River Camp

Summer at Oakland Feather River Camp
This summer, our Music Integration Director, Ami Molinelli, spent time at Oakland Feather River Camp bringing music to kids in the middle of the California wilderness.. The following is an account of the camp and it’s music teachers from Alexa Weber Morales. 
It’s hard to stay inside after a week of living outdoors, swimming in creeks and mountain lakes, making music and dancing, reading, hiking, socializing and, before bed, seeing the Milky Way snaking across the star-spattered sky. That’s my life at Oakland Feather River Camp (, where I’ve taught various classes and been the artist in residence during music week for the past 12 years.

Brothers (my boys) looking out at Long Lake in Graeagle/Plumas National Forest

It’s a low-key family atmosphere, rustic and relaxing. It’s also kid heaven. They get dirty, learn to swim, play ping pong, board games and “Sardines”, and wholly entertain themselves away from electronic devices.
Classes include: Group Ensemble, Beginning Ukelele, Beginning Brazilian Percussion, Salsa/Samba Aerobics, Voice Technique and Recycled Rhythm.
I share vocal technique, lead early morning salsa aerobics, put together the final show lineup, and rehearse with the impromptu ensembles that form throughout the week. Joining me for the last several years are percussionist Ami Molinelli and guitarist Brian Moran. Read on for more about the teachers…

AMI MOLINELLI – Brazilian percussion

Ami Molinelli is a professional percussionist and educator specializing in Brazilian and Latin percussion, especially the pandeiro.  She is the co-leader of the Brazilian choro and jazz ensemble, Grupo Falso Baiano. Ami received her MFA from the California Institute of the Arts and has studied at the Universidade Federal da Bahia in Salvador.  She has studied with master percussionists Michael Spiro, John Bergamo, Randy Gloss, and Guello to name a few.
As an educator, Ami Molinelli actively conducts workshops, clinics and artist-residencies and has been a regular faculty member at California Brazil Camp and Jazz Camp West.  She has worked with the Los Angeles Philharmonic as a teaching artist, to create and publish percussion and jazz curricula. In addition, her trademarked curriculum, “Recycled Rhythm” and percussion clinics have brought her to Universities in Brazil as well as throughout the U.S.

BRIAN MORAN – guitarist, composer, educator

Equally at home in both jazz and Latin guitar styles, Brian Moran is one of the Bay Area’s more versatile and accomplished musicians. Since graduating from Berklee College of Music in 1998, Brian has made the San Francisco Bay Area his home, where he maintains an active performance and teaching schedule.

ALEXA MORALES – Voice, piano, salsa dance, artist in residence

Now in her 12th year as artist in residence at Oakland Feather River Camp, Alexa ( loves sharing vocal technique, leading early morning salsa aerobics, putting together the final show lineup, and rehearsing with the impromptu ensembles that form throughout the week.

Since 2004, Oakland, Calif.-based multilingual (French, Spanish, Portuguese, English) songwriter Alexa Weber Morales has made 12 studio recordings, including three solo albums, Jazzmérica, Vagabundeo and I Wanna Work For You, and a solo EP, From Me To Yule. In 2010, her vocals graced the Grammy-nominated Latin jazz album, Bien! Bien! In 2012, she was commissioned to write lyrics and sing on the Pacific Mambo Orchestra debut release. In 2014, that debut album won the Grammy for Best Tropical Latin Album, marking a historic triumph for the Bay Area Latin music scene and for indie musicians everywhere!
All ages are welcome to explore ensemble playing on a variety of instruments. A few guitars and ukeleles, a piano and some percussion instruments are available. We will also offer accompaniment for singers. There will be karaoke for over-the-top fun as well as multiple opportunities to jam, perform and learn.
This is family camp, so the emphasis is on family relaxation and fun, with a soundtrack created by those who attend camp and our special musical guests (see below). In addition, some highly skilled singer-songwriters and performers regularly attend camp and share their awe-inspiring talent with everyone! The week culminates in a wonderful musical variety show on the veranda with assorted solo, group, family and novelty acts, and the occasional bad joke. Shows at camp include jazz night, classical night, karaoke night, Brazilian night, and the closing camp music show.
Below, listen to a conversation about OFRC between Ami Molinelli and the camp’s Executive Director, Mark Olson.
You can learn more about  Oakland Feather River Camp at Thank you Alexa and Ami for sharing with us!
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