Mr. T goes to Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp.

August 1, 2017

Mr. T goes to Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp.


By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

BLUE LAKE TOWNSHIP (Muskegon County) — Northern Muskegon County is home to Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, one of the world’s top summer arts camps. The instructors at the camp come from all over to share their talents and gifts with inspiring young artists, who attend two week sessions. During this current session, a group of 100 beginning musicians have the treat of being instructed by John Taranko, director of bands at Hart Public Schools and a resident of Mason County’s Pere Marquette Township.

John is conducting the wind ensemble at Blue Lake’s Camp Bernstein, the program’s junior camp designed for middle school aged children.

“Most of the students have had one year of band at their school and then they come here in anticipation for their seventh grade year in the fall,” John says.

Like his students at Hart, John’s Blue Lake students affectionately refer to him as “Mr. T.”

“I say to them the first day of class that Taranko can be a mouthful, so they can just call me Mr. T.” And, they do. As John prepares for one of his two afternoon sessions, the students walk past the practice pavilion and shout hello to Mr. T.

“It’s been a great experience,” John says. “It’s quite a bit different from my regular school year. At Hart, my largest band is my high school band, which is about 70 students. This band is 100 sixth graders. It’s like herding kittens but it’s a whole lot of fun.”   

John isn’t a stranger to Blue Lake. As a high school sophomore in the early 1980s he was a camper. The following year, he toured with the Blue Lake International Band.

“I would recommend Blue Lake to any student,” John says. “When I have kids who go to Blue Lake or any summer music camp, two things happen when they come back in the fall: They are better musicians because they have had great instruction and they played during the summer; and they also get re-energized. We all get tired of things once in a while and need a little shot in the arm. The kids always come back in the fall excited after they’ve been at camp in the summer.”

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