Salvation Army music students hit all the right notes in El Paso
By: Joanna Estrada
Fifteen students graduated from the 4th Annual Summer Music Camp in El Paso on Sunday, July 10. Although this free four-week program was the first introduction to music theory and performance for several students, beginner and intermediate musicians all shared the same goal: to perform together at graduation.
“We’ve seen music education make a big difference for children,” says Major Floiran Estrada, commanding officer. “They develop essential skills and build discipline, but music lessons can be too expensive for many families. That’s why we offer this program completely free.”
While the camp’s primary purpose is music education, traditional summer activities such as outdoor recreation and field trips were also part of the weekly schedule. Their first excursions were to the El Paso Museum of Archeology and the National Border Patrol Museum where they also explored the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Hike. Their next field trips were to the movies, the El Paso Zoo, and Camp Cohen Water Park.
The students performed five musical selections together. Their brass selection “Ode to Joy” was the highlight of the program, showing just how much the students had improved as brass was generally the most challenging class. The students also performed selections for choir and hand bells, but campers weren’t the only ones to perform on Sunday. All three music instructors also presented their own solos. Jessica Porter sang “Thank You” in appreciation of the camp’s generous volunteers. Brisa Serrano sang “Part of Your World (The Little Mermaid),” and Hugo Hernandez played Goedicke’s “Concert Etude” for his trumpet solo. It was a wonderful celebration of music with multiple solo and ensemble performances.
Thirteen-year-old Christopher Martinez shared his testimony. He first learned music during The Salvation Army’s summer program in 2017 and now plays with the Citadel Brass Band. He is a member of his school’s honor band and was selected to participate in All-Region Competition. He earned 1st Division awards at the 2022 YISD UIL Solo and Ensemble. Christopher was a volunteer for the music camp, leading sectionals and helping the younger students. He played “2022 All Region Etude” for his trumpet solo.
“This isn’t just a summer camp,” says Jessica Porter, Music Camp Director. “It is a demanding educational program. The kids have been studying and practicing for four weeks during their summer vacation, so it’s important to recognize their hard work.” Majors Floiran and Eloisa Estrada presented all students with graduation certificates and medals. Additionally, the top four students Jazmyn Zuniga, Julian Gonzalez, Zeanney Zuniga, and Ahtziri Rivera were awarded trophies for outstanding work.
The service concluded with a special selection by the Citadel Brass Band, “Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee.” Although the Summer Music Camp has concluded, The Salvation Army in El Paso continues its music ministry throughout the year. The Citadel Brass Band accompanies worship every Sunday and plays Christmas carols at Sam’s Club during the Red Kettle Campaign. Bandmaster Hector Martinez volunteers every week to teach beginner band, guiding the next generation of Salvation Army musicians in the borderland.