FAYETTEVILLE - Early one recent morning Esther Morey, founder and director of the Coda Mountain Academy of Music, was making her usual rounds, checking to make sure everything was running smoothly.
She made her way down to the Grand Ole Opry, the nickname given to the building that houses students in the camp's bluegrass tract, and came across a sight that brought a smile to her face.
All 10 students were lost in their music, too enthralled to even notice her presence.
One guitar student had on headphones, listening to an instructional video, while another sat nearby working on an original composition. Outside, Nathanial Ramsey, who plays fiddle, was showing Jordan Ashbury how to play a Bach piece on the mandolin. Other students were busy notating sheet music or practicing their finger work.
"I thought to myself, 'Wow, the bluegrass department is really amazing.' I was really happy to see that."
Despite organizing and running the two-week summer music academy for the past six years, Morey said the sounds of her students hard at work never ceases to fill her with joy.
Morey and her husband, Charles, founded the camp in the summer of 2007 with the hope of promoting artistic excellence in students through a creative educational approach.
The name of the camp refers to "coda," a term used in music for a variety of purposes, especially a passage that brings a piece to its end.
With the help of a dedicated staff of professional musicians and teachers, Morey has transformed the camp from little more than an idea to one of the state's premiere musical education programs.
Besides its bluegrass tract, which includes guitar, mandolin, banjo, dobro, ukulele and fiddle, the academy offers a classical concentration and a children's program.
In the classical tract students can study violin, viola, cello, strings, brass, woodwind, bass or piano.
The children's program, which lasts for the first five days day of the two-week course, gives students who have never played a musical instrument the opportunity to study ukulele, guitar, singing or rhythm instruments.
Older students are housed in the camp's lodges and cabins at the facility at the New River Gorge Gateway Center, while younger students are dropped off and picked up each day by their parents.
This year the camp has 47 students ranging in age from 9 to 19 and has nearly doubled its size from last year.