Louis Smith Scholarships

While much has changed during this summer of COVID, SEMJA’s commitment to supporting jazz education has not.
Drummer and educator Sean Dobbins decided to do a virtual camp specifically for jazz drummers. The camp had 12 students from 8th graders to college freshman. SEMJA stepped in and presented scholarships to two of the students who needed some financial assistance to be able to enroll. The scholarships money came from the Louis Smith Scholarship Fund, set up by SEMJA, at the request of Louis’s widow Lulu, after Louis passed away.

The two students receiving scholarships were Sarah Whitaker and Taylor Atkinson. Sarah, 19, is a sophomore at Michigan State University. She graduated from East Lansing High School and has been playing drum set for 2 years. Taylor, 17, just graduated from Lutheran High Northeast in Rochester Hills, and will be a freshman at Oakland University in the fall. She has been playing drums for twelve years.

Both of these young ladies were very grateful to SEMJA for the scholarships, which allowed them to attend the drum camp. Here are their letters of thanks:

Thank you so much for your generous contribution to my musical studies! Sean Dobbins’ Jazz Drumming Intensive helped me with jazz drumming in so many ways, and I can’t thank you enough for your support! In the future, I will definitely use the knowledge I have learned from this camp to further share music with the world.
Taylor Atkinson, Incoming Freshman, Oakland University

I would like to personally thank you for allowing me the ability, free of financial worry, to educate and learn from my peers and one of my mentors, Sean Dobbins. While attending this virtual camp, I gained the confidence to get back on my feet with a new sense of direction. Without this experience, I do not know if I would have been exposed to the type of determination and talent that my peer group possesses. With this newfound knowledge, I am one step closer to fulfilling my musicianship and my duty to the music community. Again, thank you very much.
Sarah Whitaker

The camp provided one week of online instruction, culminating in individual video presentations. When asked why a camp specifically for drummers, Dobbins answered that “there are important technical, conceptual and ensemble aspects to jazz drumming that need to be addressed in a detailed forum so that students can have a better perspective for supporting their ensembles.” He has decided to make this an annual virtual camp to allow students from all areas to participate.

SEMJA is pleased and proud to be a part of this inaugural effort.