Williams Syndrome Camp Brings Together Country Music and Brain …

August 1, 2017 - summer camp

Campers with Williams syndrome on theatre during a Grand Ole Opry behaving their strange song, “I Love Big,” with nation artist Chris Young in front of a throng of thousands.

Emily Siner/WPLN


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Emily Siner/WPLN

Campers with Williams syndrome on theatre during a Grand Ole Opry behaving their strange song, “I Love Big,” with nation artist Chris Young in front of a throng of thousands.

Emily Siner/WPLN

The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn., is nation music’s Holy Land. It’s home to a weekly radio uncover that put nation strain on a inhabitant map in 1925. And it’s where this summer, 30 people with Williams syndrome energetically arrived backstage.

Williams syndrome is a singular genetic commotion that can means developmental disabilities. People with a condition are mostly famous for their outgoing personalities and their surpassing adore of music. Scientists are still perplexing to figure out where this low-pitched affinity comes from and how it can assistance them overcome their challenges.

That’s given 12 years ago, researchers during Vanderbilt University set adult a summer camp for people with Williams syndrome. For a week each summer, campers come to Nashville to douse themselves in nation strain and attend in cutting-edge research.

This isn’t a usually summer stay for people with Williams syndrome, though it is singular in a sold nation flair. It’s orderly by a Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, whose expertise and staff concentration on developmental disabilities. Eight years ago, a Academy of Country Music’s munificent arm, ACM Lifting Lives, started appropriation a program.

Clancey Hopper leads a debate of a Grand Ole Opry for this year’s Williams syndrome campers. Hopper attended a stay for 8 years before removing hired as a debate beam during a Opry.

Emily Siner/WPLN


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Clancey Hopper leads a debate of a Grand Ole Opry for this year’s Williams syndrome campers. Hopper attended a stay for 8 years before removing hired as a debate beam during a Opry.

Emily Siner/WPLN

Campers spend a week assembly musicians and visiting recording studios, even essay an strange song. This year, they teamed adult with one of country’s hottest stars, Dierks Bentley, on that. And they get a backstage debate of a Grand Ole Opry led by Clancey Hopper, who has Williams syndrome herself and attended a Nashville stay for 8 years before requesting for a pursuit during a Opry.

“I overtly never suspicion that we would have this dream pursuit that we have,” she says. “And only to share it with people who are so ardent about strain and life itself — it’s only great.”

Hopper is a master during pumping adult a crowd— generally this crowd, who hearten and pant enthusiastically as she shows them a sauce rooms, a theatre and even a numbered mailboxes where Opry members get fan mail.

“We’ve got 192 — that is Miss Carrie Underwood,” she points out. “176 is Blake Shelton.”

Sarah Myers, a 23-year-old camper, calls a whole knowledge a dream come true. “I listen to nation strain each day, given when we listen to it, there’s a grin that we can’t take off of me,” she says.

A Genetic Drive To Love, Yet Distanced By Differences

People with Williams syndrome mostly demonstrate good affinity for all kinds of music, not only country. Even during a immature age, some relatives notice that certain songs tend to ease them quite well, says Miriam Lense, who studies strain and a mind during Vanderbilt and conducts investigate with a camp.

A Life Without Fear

“You positively get stories about relatives observant that a initial time their child started unequivocally vocalizing or regulating difference was around strain — singing along or stuffing in a words,” Lense says.

There can also be an conflicting reaction: When people with a incapacity don’t like a sound, it can seem roughly painful, she says.

The accurate reasons for this low-pitched attraction are still a mystery, though scientists have identified a neurological component. When people with Williams syndrome listen to music, a visible area of a mind is furious some-more so than in other people, Lense says, “which suggests for during slightest some people with Williams syndrome, one of a reasons strain competence be so absolute is given it is this impossibly multisensory, really abounding experience.”

That sold anticipating came out of a study conducted with stay participants. Researchers are also looking into non-musical ways of assisting people with a disability. For example, they now reason awareness classes to assistance campers cope with stress — another common characteristic.

Jared Glenn, a 32-year-old camper from Detroit, has beheld a change in himself. “I used to be some-more hyper and wild, though now I’m some-more ease and chill,” he says.

Country artist Chris Young rehearses with campers from a ACM Lifting Lives strain camp.

Emily Siner/WPLN


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Country artist Chris Young rehearses with campers from a ACM Lifting Lives strain camp.

Emily Siner/WPLN

Backstage during a Grand Ole Opry, a campers try to channel that ease as they proceed a week’s grand finale: behaving a strain they wrote on stage, before an assembly of thousands. Some breathe deeply to solid their nerves.

When they’re called to a stage, they’re assimilated by another nation artist, Chris Young. Together, they belt out “I Love Big,” a strain about themselves and their unrestrained for a world.

Weatherman’s job for sleet and pale skies

But in my heart it’s always balmy and 75

Been that approach ever given we was a kid

That’s only me, we adore big.

The approach we laugh, a approach we smile

The approach we cuddle a crony we haven’t seen in a while

It’s who we am, it’s how we live

I adore big

Go be brave, go be brave

Don’t be fearful going for a gold

It’s who we are, it’s how we live

I adore big

In a final chorus, one camper in a behind goes a bit rogue, violation arrangement to call his arms beyond in time with a music. The assembly loves it and follows his lead — and during a end, gives a campers a station ovation.

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