Shakespeare wrote, “If music be the food of love, play on.” In order to play an instrument, it does help to have a good music mentor or teacher available. This is exactly what Camp Kiya, Tehachapi’s family traditional music camp, strives to provide for its attendees.

Planning is now well underway for the ninth annual Camp Kiya, which will take place July 23 through 27. This four-day music workshop camp welcomes perople of all ages, and is held atop Tehachapi Mountain Park, which is located at the far south end of Water Canyon, off Highline.

The most important function of a music camp is to provide innovative music teachers who will share the knowledge and experience of their particular instruments with the campers. Camp Kiya’s teachers offer instruction, from beginning to advanced, on a variety of mainly acoustic instruments, including fiddle, cello, guitar, harp, ukulele, harmonica, dulcimer and more. Some other workshops include the craft of songwriting, audio engineering and step dancing.

One of the returning musicians, as well as being a highly requested music teacher, is Michael Gutin, accordion maestro. Hailing from Santa Barbara, Gutin is much in demand as a bandleader, soloist and accompanist, as well as a teacher. He teaches at many camps, festivals and retreats throughout the state, and he has the ability to adapt the accordion to all generational and world styles of music.

Gutin will bring with him to camp an assortment of different sized accordions to share, encouraging all ages and levels of players to step in and learn about what this keyboard button box can do. His workshops are not about learning to play the classic tune, “Spanish Eyes,” but rather they are an introduction to all the choices and potential possibilities for playing this squeezebox, performed in any style or genre imaginable.

“The accordion is a very popular instrument in many parts of the world, and it was once extremely popular here in the United States,” said Gutin. “My mission as an accordion teacher is to be an ambassador for the instrument, to get people excited about playing the accordion again, and to show my students how tremendously versatile the accordion is, and that it can fit in with just about any style of roots music.”

Beginners at Camp Kiya will learn some techniques and a few simple tunes. Workshops for intermediate and advanced players will be tailored to suit individual abilities. The last evening in camp, students are invited to show what they have learned in a “campers’ concert.”

“Going to a music camp is one of the most fun things a music-lover can do,” emphasized Gutin. “You get to hang out with other music-lovers, improve your skills on your current instrument, and even try out a new instrument (or two) that you have never played before. Camp Kiya is an absolute smorgasbord of musical fun for campers of all ages.”

Deborah Hand-Cutler, founder and Camp Kiya coordinator, said of Gutin, “Michael can play anything on that thing. For instance, who would have thought ‘Light My Fire’ was an accordion song?”

Gutin will also be available before and after Camp Kiya for private lessons given at Mountain Music. Interested accordion students in the community can call the number listed below to make arrangements.

Introductions to all the 2017 music teachers are available online at, along with more about registration, fees, meals and discounts. Information about scholarship aid is also available online. For more information, call 661-823-9994 and leave your name, phone number and a brief message.

Camp Kiya is partially funded by a grant from the Arts Council of Kern.

Terri Asher is a graphic artist, and a Camp Kiya attendee.