Salisbury Symphony summer camp teacher brings out the best of young musicians

Published 12:04 am Sunday, July 31, 2022

SALISBURY — The Salisbury Symphony has brought the art of music to the city for over 50 years, intent on opening the world of musical expression to the youngest members of the community. And one educator has kept the joy of music alive within the youngest members of Salisbury through creativity and lighthearted teaching techniques.

For Carter Bradley, who has taught the Salisbury Symphony’s Summer Strings Camp for 19 years, providing an introductory course for children interested in music not only develops their musical talents, but connects the youngest Salisbury citizens to one another. The week-long program gives the students a walking tour of Salisbury’s art sculptures, outdoor time and a scavenger hunt activity, in addition to learning techniques on violin, viola and cello. In the future, the organization plans to include piano in the instrument line up.

“It’s a lot of fun to teach music,” Bradley said. “It’s a wonderful medium. It’s my goal for students to enjoy and understand music more.”

While the week-long beginners program is an intensive one, the music director’s approach to teaching ensures that children do not realize how much they are learning in a short amount of time. Students spend four hours every day of the camp with Bradley learning introductory tunes such as “Mary had a Little Lamb” and “Hot Crossed Buns.” The twist is that he gets the kids involved in production.

“Just a small thing that we do every year is we change up the song titles just to give every one a little laugh,” said Bradley. “Instead of Mary having a lamb, she had an iguana one year.”

He grew up in Charlotte and began his musical journey in third grade on  the piano. A symphony visited his fifth grade class and it was in that moment, he knew he was destined to surround himself with the art of music through his career and his life. Bradley received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in piano and voice from the University of North Carolina Greensboro.

His first teaching responsibility was teaching beginner strings for Rowan County schools, before the merging with Salisbury schools in 1989. Bradley taught at Knox Middle School and Salisbury High School for 31 years, driving back and forth from his home in Greensboro. David Hagy, conductor at the Salisbury Symphony, said it is impressive that Bradley has made such an impact on a city even though the instructor lives 50 miles away.

“He’s a very kind and effective teacher,” said Hagy. “He really gets the best out of them with his way of teaching.”

According to Bradley, his teaching philosophy is hands-on approach, introducing children with strings to musical techniques and using it as a way for them to appreciate the world of music.

Hunter Safrit, executive director of the Salisbury Symphony, first met Bradley when he interned with the musical organization. He was involved with the Summer Strings Camp and saw first hand how Bradley worked with each class.

“Carter shines when he’s in front of kids,” he said. “He’s extremely hilarious. It’s hard not to smile when he’s around.”

Despite being heavily involved with education, Bradley has been a part of almost every Salisbury Symphony concert, playing the viola. Hagy said the string player is the clown of the viola section, cracking jokes and making other members laugh in the midst of stressful rehearsals. His humor does not throw off practice, but it lightens the mood and brings more playfulness to the organization.

According to Hagy, “the best of teachers keep it lighthearted.”