Monday, February 11, 2013

Summertime's Coming - Music Camps and Festivals

Written by: Amy Tobin, violinist and manager, Fein Violins

For a lot of people, summer is a time for lazing by the pool, taking it easy, and being away from all of the more 'intellectual' activities of school, study, or work. Even if you still work, there is something different about summer that makes you take things a little more easy and be a little more laid back.

For a lot of musicians, however, the summer can be a bit treacherous. When it comes to playing an instrument, taking 3 months off can be a real hinderance to progress, if not set you back a bit entirely. For that reason, many younger musicians tend to take advantage of the opportunity to focus entirely on their instrument, without having to split time between practicing and studying and the other things that can compete for time and attention.

If you are new to the idea of summer music camps or festivals, I am going to outline some of the different options for you. Some of these I have been to, some of these I have had other colleagues attend, and others I have only a passing knowledge of. It's certainly not an exhaustive list, but hopefully it will open you up for discovery of different options for the summer months. Whatever your interests, however, there should be something here to catch your eye!

1. Interlochen National Music Camp


Interlochen Music School's Kresge Auditorium


I have to start with Interlochen since it is so near and dear to me. I attended the summer program here for two years, and it was AMAZING! The program itself
is anywhere from 1 week long for one of their more intensive instrumental institutes, to a full six week program for their High School Orchestra and Wind Symphony program. There are programs for young musicians entering 3rd grade in the fall, all the way up to the year before college.

In truth, there are so many different program options at Interlochen that you are sure to find something that fits.There is a Visual Arts program, a Theater Arts program, a Dance program, as well as a few others that are probably newer from when I was there in the mid '80s.

Interlochen is a beautiful place, nestled in the woods of Interlochen, Michigan, and the environment is safe and fun for the younger set. There are also some Adult Creative Arts programs, so even if you are beyond the elementary to high school age, there are options available for you!

To make things easier, they have an Online Application link to get you started, plus some information regarding Scholarships and Financial Aid.

2. Boston University Tanglewood Institute


Young Artists Orchestra rehearsing in the West Barn

There are actually two separate programs at Tanglewood. The BUTI (Boston University Tanglewood Institute) is the high school/young artist program, and the Tanglewood Music Festival is for emerging professionals and, at least with instrumentalists, can sometimes be a springboard to playing with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Needless to say, the Tanglewood Music Festival is a much more advanced program with an extremely competitive audition process.

There a couple of options with BUTI, from a two week Workshop Program to the full six week Young Artist programs available for various disciplines and ensembles.

3. Luzerne Music Center


Young musicians rehearsing at the Luzerne Music Center

The Luzerne Music Center, in the Adirondacks of New York State, has programs from 2 weeks to 8 weeks long. This summer intensive, with Elizabeth Pitcairn as its CEO, is a great opportunity for musicians from age 9 - 18 to learn from some of the best professional musicians in the field, to rehearse and perform great repertoire, and to do it all in one of the most beautiful spots in the United States.

Luzerne has lots of different programs for instrumentalists, composers, and conductors, from classical to jazz, with an accompanying concerto competition for the students. Here is a little more information about the application process.

4. Kneisel Hall


Scenes of music making at Kneisel Hall
If chamber music is your passion, you can't go wrong with the fabulous Kneisel Hall Chamber Music School and Festival. For 8 weeks, you are immersed in studying and performing some of the most beloved chamber repertoire there is. I attended Kneisel Hall for 2 summers while I was in college ( my teacher was Roman Totenberg, who was the director of the school), and it was one of the most valuable and enjoyable experiences I have ever had in my music career.

There are now a few different programs that take place at Kneisel Hall. The main program, the Young Artist Chamber Music Program, is a 7 week program for 50 pre-professional musicians, and is tuition free (there are a few fees involved that amount to approximately $400). For this reason, the audition/admission process can be quite competitive. I would not let that deter you, however. It is a most remarkable experience!

Kneisel Hall also now has a program for Maine Students that consists of a 1 day program for string players and pianists from ages 9 - 12, and a 2 week program for students aged 12 - 19. And, if you are an adult looking for a fantastic chamber music experience, they have a 1 or 2 week Adult Session as well!

5. Mark Wood Rock Orchestra


Performance at the Mark Wood Orchestra Camp
There are certainly non-classical options as well! At the Mark Wood Rock Orchestra Camp, string players of all kinds (violin, viola, cello, electric guitar, bass, etc.) have the opportunity to spend a week rocking out in ways that most classically trained musicians never even think of! Just outside of Kansas City, Kansas, Mark Wood has created a place where musicians of all ages can learn to play 'outside the box.' A great place to learn from someone who is truly a pioneer in the world of rock, there are classes and seminars on improvisation, the use of different kinds of gear for different instruments, and different rhythmic styles and technique that might be used. Plus, it's just plain old fun!


There are certainly a lot of other camps, festivals, and groups that can give you some focused learning and experience in the summer months. The trick is to figure out what kind of time length you would like, whether you would like to attend somewhere that you would stay for the duration or go home each night, and what kinds of music you would like to play or learn. Every major city has opportunities for summer music learning and performance, as well as the major music festivals that are known internationally. Try googling 'summer music festival and school' and just see how many results you come up!

So, have fun this summer, and let us know if you have found a great school or festival that we should know about!

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