Claire Nordstrom ’15 and Jensen McRae ’15 attended Grammy Camp, a 10-day music intensive camp for a variety of musical studies, at USC this summer. Both girls focused on songwriting at the program, which also offered courses in singing, music journalism and video production.
Both Nordstrom and McRae have been interested in music since a young age.
Nordstrom has been singing seriously since fourth grade, and McRae has been singing since she was a small child and started writing songs seriously when she was 12.
The two found out about the camp from other Harvard- Westlake students who went the previous summer. They stayed the full 10 days and made many new friends, they said.
“My roommate actually lives in the Palisades about five minutes away from me, and I had never met her before,” Nordstrom said. “It was also so crazy to go somewhere for 10 days where everyone around the country was going and to meet someone who lives five minutes away from me. The whole camp got really close, and I still keep in contact with so many people from the camp.”
USC Professor of Songwriting Chris Sampson taught both McRae and Nordstrom, introducing new songwriting exercises and teaching them how to better collaborate with other musicians.
“I wrote three songs at the camp, which was amazing,” Nordstrom said. “It’s just a great way to get out of your comfort zone. I always just write solo, so it was a great way to have an experience with writing songs with others, and I would have never done that had I not gone to the camp.”
McRae said that from the moment campers woke up at 7 a.m. to when they returned to their dorms at 11 p.m., their entire day was spent focusing on music and songwriting.
“It’s really for a certain kind of musician,” McRae said. “Everybody there takes it really seriously, so if you’re just kind of casually into music, I don’t think you would really get much out of it, and I think it would be kind of overwhelming. But if you’re really serious about pursuing music as a career, then I think it would be really worthwhile to check out.”
Nordstrom also added that the camp was a great way for potential applicants to get to know the USC campus.
“I don’t even feel the need to take a tour now because I lived there for ten days,” Nordstrom said. “We looked at all of the music areas, and I’m only applying to colleges for music, so it was just a great way to look at the campus.”
McRae said that meeting other people “that were that serious about music helped me become a much stronger collaborator and person.”