Camp Kiya Receives Arts Council of Kern Grant

Camp Kiya, Tehachapi’s family traditional music camp, has been awarded a $1,000 grant from the Arts Council of Kern. The “Arts in the Community” grant was given for the scholarship program, which helps make the camp affordable to students and adults who would not be able to attend without some financial aid.  Camp Kiya will take place July 24-27 this summer.

The Arts Council of Kern – in partnership with the California Arts Council, the County of Kern and local agencies – provides, supports and promotes arts access, advocacy and education for all residents and visitors to Kern County. The Community grants are awarded each year to established nonprofit organizations, arts organizations, or other organizations involved in arts-related activities in Kern County.  Camp Kiya last received a grant for scholarships in 2016.

This will be the ninth year for Camp Kiya, which is held in the group camp in Tehachapi Mountain Park. The mission of the camp is “to help keep musical participation and appreciation alive in Kern County by providing an opportunity for families and friends, children and adults, to explore music together in an affordable, non-competitive, non-judgmental and beautiful setting close to home.”

Camp Kiya is a partnership between members of TPOPS (The Tehachapi Pops Orchestra), Mountain Music, Fiddlers Crossing, and other local musicians. Classes are taught by local musicians as well as outstanding professionals from around California. Instruments include fiddle, cello, guitar, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, bass, harp, keyboard backup, accordion, mountain dulcimer and more. Dancing, singing, improvisation, playing by ear and “jamming” skills round out the offerings.

Class levels range from total beginners to advanced. “From Scratch” workshops are available for those who want to try something new. A special “Acorn” program is available for children.

Registration is open online at  Registration forms may also be downloaded from the website and sent in with a check.  An “early bird” discount is available for those who register before April 15. For more information, call 661-823-9994, or pick up a brochure at 206 East F Street or the Mountain Music display in the Tehachapi Treasure Trove.

Camp Kiya 2013

Sunday, July 21 — Thursday, July 25

2013-07-24 21.27.41For 2013, we will have workshops in harp, mountain dulcimer and old-time fiddle, as well as ukulele, Scottish fiddle, cello and much more!

Special Classes: Classical Guitar and Violin Technique will again be offered as “stand-alone” classes. Non-campers may come and pay a fee for either of those classes alone. Reservations required. Call 661-823-9994.

For Children ages 4 and up: The “Acorn” program will again be offered on Monday and Tuesday as part of the camp, for all children not already playing fiddle, cello, guitar or mandolin. From 9 a.m. to 12 noon, they will explore different instruments, Irish dancing, singing, rhythm and other activities. Acorn participants may sign up for this program only, without attending the entire camp. One child and one parent is $50 per day. Each additional child is $35 per day, and an additional parent or grandparent is $25 per day.

Classical Guitar Workshop with William Coulter – 2011

williamcoultersoloThe last time William Coulter played his guitar in Tehachapi was with banjo player Ken Perlman at a house concert several years ago. The next time will be to teach classical guitar at Camp Kiya.

While the emphasis at Camp Kiya is on traditional music and dance, the class offerings also include accordion, cello, improvisation, songwriting, native Kawaiisu arts and crafts and much more. Considering the number of classical guitar students and teachers in Tehachapi, adding classical guitar seems like a natural extension of the Camp’s program and is certain to add even more spice to the already eclectic mix of music heard around the campground.

William Coulter is a Grammy-winning guitarist who is the perfect choice to bring classical guitar to the camp because he moves easily from one genre to another – from classical, to Celtic, pop, and all kinds of traditional music. Although Coulter is sure to be found mixing it up in all manner of jam sessions at Camp Kiya, his teaching will concentrate on classical guitar. His classes will be open to classical guitar players of all levels.

The class will include the basics — including sitting position, hand position, tone production, use of fingernails and fundamental technique – as well as exercises for right hand arpeggio patterns and left hand finger independence. Students will also be invited to play solos in a ‘master class’-style setting and gain feedback from the instructor and other students. Other topics such as how to deal with stage fright, music and breathing, and playing with ease and accuracy will also be covered.

William Coulter has been performing and recording for 20 years. He has a classical guitar studio at UC Santa Cruz, and is a sought-after teacher at many summer music camps.  He earned his BA in music from UC Santa Cruz and a Master of Music degree from the San Francisco Conservatory. Coulter enjoys collaborations with other musicians and has toured internationally. In 1994, he earned a second Master’s degree from UCSC in ethnomusicology, with an emphasis on traditional Irish music and song.

Imagine It: Tehachapi Mountains & Music – 2010

Msunsetid-July. Imagine it: Long stretches of triple-digit weather in the Central Valley. In the LA Basin, the combination of smog and humidity is making everyone go slightly nuts. But in the Tehachapi Mountains, the air is clear, daytime temps are in the 80s, and at night you’re throwing on a sweatshirt.

Whether you’re a musician or a music enthusiast, eight or 108, or just plain sick of the heat, consider Camp Kiya this year. Affordable and fun, Camp Kiya is a great way to explore a new instrument, improve your playing on the instrument you already have, and meet others who are doing the same. For non-instrumentalists, there’s dancing, hiking and workshops on native folklore, as well as the chance to relax among the pines with a good book.

Joe Craven, Jamie Laval and Zac Leger in Concert at the BeeKay
Joe Craven, Jamie Laval and Zac Leger in Pre-Camp Concert at the BeeKay Theatre

Camp Kiya is features some of the most respected names in the traditional music community – musicians as well-known for their teaching as they are for their playing.

A Day At Camp Kiya – 2009


Written by Jill Egland, year one, 2009.

Wake up, hit the showers. Get to the mess hall. Smells terrific – that’s because the kitchen team is using local produce and organic ingredients to cook up some of the best-tasting meals (veg and non-veg) you’ve ever had.

Morning Improv Class in the Mess Hall
Morning Improv Class in the Mess Hall

Choose your first morning workshop — that’s a hard one! There’s five to pick from! You get into a conversation with some others who are pouring their second cup of coffee.

Jamie Laval’s fiddle class ’09

The conversation continues as the group of you meander down the trail to a clearing behind the cabins. A dozen chairs are in a circle. You duck into your cabin and grab your fiddle. You’re nervous because it’s the first time you’ve actually played it in front of anyone since high school. Two hours later, you’re chuckling to yourself — and checking the location for the next workshop.

Michael Gutin’s Contra Dance Band Class
Michael Gutin’s Contra Dance Band Class

Lunch sneaks up on you. There’s another great meal waiting, with fresh baked cookies for dessert. You grab a couple extra and head up the hill to the first afternoon workshop. But then, local nature guru, Jon Hammond, saunters by, followed by a group of hikers. It’s too good to pass up…

bridge-09-smYou hear the music before you see the group playing it. There’s still a half hour before dinner, but the jam that’s sprung up next to the mess hall has made everyone oblivious. Someone calls out to you, “Hey! Grab your fiddle!”

Jamming in the Mess Hall



It’s after dinner, and the band is setting up in the mess hall.  Everyone helps move tables and chairs.

The contra dance caller starts out easy and gradually introduces more complex steps.

Wayne Thompson Calls a Dance
Wayne Thompson Calls a Dance

The music is infectious. You jump up.


There’s a break for ice cream sundaes and then it’s back to more dancing.

It’s late. You head to your cabin with every intention of turning in, but there’s a bonfire in the fire pit, and a group of people jamming nearby. You grab your sweatshirt and come back out to listen. You look up. There’s a billion stars canopied above you. You stuff your hands in your pockets and find half of a cookie from lunch. Sweet.