As a music instructor, you want to assure that your students have the best possible academic and life experiences while also helping them explore their musical development. Few experiences are more valuable and more life changing in the realm of developing musical skills than a good summer music program. Music campers enjoy opportunities to work and play—and perform—with their peers in a setting that is both relaxing and challenging. The friendships formed at music camp can last a lifetime, as can the memories, creativity, motivation, and maturity that camp can instill.
Examples of great summer music camps across the country include: International Music Camp in Dunseith, North Dakota, (internationalmusiccamp.com/information); Music For All (musicforall.org) at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana; Interlochen Center for the Arts (interlochen.org) and Blue Lakes Fine Arts Camp (bluelake.org) in Michigan. In addition, there are many summer music programs hosted at state universities and regional colleges including the University of Wisconsin at Madison, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Indiana University at Bloomington, and many others.
One of the oldest and best known of the summer music programs is Michigan's Interlochen. Students from grades 3 through 12 are so eager to attend this program— which some have described as "a dream come true"—that stories of earning tuition through part-time jobs and businesses, bake sales, and collections are legion. Cassi Mikat, a Brighton, Michigan Interlochen alumna said of her summer there, "It's just such a cool thing that I can grow this much in such a short amount of time." Piano student Samuel Nunoo of Cleveland, Ohio said, "If you come here, your life will change. It's the 'funnest' place I've ever been to."
The privately owned Interlochen Center for the Arts hosts their arts camp annually for 3,000 students ranging in age from 8 to 18. Founded in 1928 by Dr. Joseph E. Maddy, Interlochen offers classes in theatre, dance, visual arts, creative writing, motion picture arts, and, of course, the famous music program. This wealth of creative expression gives music students exposure to young people who are exploring other arts media than they are. Participation by students from all over the world and every part of the U.S. helps broaden students' understanding of their peers' similarities and differences as they learn together side-by-side.
From its inception, young people have come to Interlochen to focus on their music shielded from distractions often found at home during the school year. Having likeminded students and excellent instructors surrounding you can spur enormous growth. This special time and place generates what's known as the "Magic of Interlochen": an electric level of intensity that generates an incredible level of accomplishment in a very short time.
Not every summer music program has the exact mixture of locale, faculty, and tradition as Interlochen, but all the good music programs generate their own similar brand of magic and growth for musicians.
For example, Michigan's Blue Lakes Fine Arts Camp, (bluelake.org), a 1,300 acre campus in the state's Manistee National Forest, offers a complete summer school of the arts for all ages. Musical offerings include a Suzuki camp, a euphonium and tuba festival, and several other band and orchestra learning options. Blue Lakes is unusual in accepting students at any proficiency level and encouraging them to grow. The supportive arts environment is made possible by faculty and staff that strive to motivate campers and share their joy of achievement with them. Enthusiasm is contagious at Blue Lake as campers discover, learn, experience, and go on to success.
Each summer, the Blue Lakes camp program serves more than 5,300 gifted elementary, junior high, and high school students with its programs in music and other performance arts. More than 175 performances are staged during the Blue Lakes Summer Arts Festival. Blue Lakes also operates a widely acclaimed International Exchange Program and two public radio stations. Since its inception in 1966, Blue Lakes has provided cultural enrichment to more than 300,000 talented pupils and countless concertgoers. An international study program is another option at Blue Lakes that you may wish to introduce to your students. Participants are invited to the international program after having attended a Blue Lakes summer arts camp.
Another program that welcomes students from all over the world is the International Music Camp (IMC) in Dunseith, North Dakota (internationalmusiccamp.com). Situated near the International Peace Garden, IMC offers cultural study for both children and adults. Weekly arts education sessions serve up concentrated learning opportunities in dance, creative writing, painting, drawing, and more—in addition to the core music programs. A staff of 150 artist-teachers, internationally noted guest conductors, and outstanding clinicians from the United States, Canada, and Europe provide instruction to students from around the world. IMC campers work and play with other art students in a challenging and relaxed setting that helps stimulate lasting friendships.
The IMC offerings present something for just about every music student. Vocal programs include choirs, vocal jazz, a cappella pop choir, and musical theatre. Opportunities for instrumentalists include band, orchestra, jazz, guitar, garage band, hand bells, piping and drumming, world percussion, mallet percussion, piano, organ, and fiddle.
IMC Students perform in large ensembles, chamber groups, and combos, plus they have access to private lessons. Master classes, fundamentals classes, and other special classes are a part of all programs. A special university preparatory program gives advanced high school musicians the opportunity to spend up to three weeks in intense study of music theory, history, and composition while participating in the other camp activities, including ensembles and recitals.
Many summer music enrichments programs are affiliated with a university, giving students a chance to visit a school they may later choose to attend. A good example is Music For All (MFA), (musicforall.org), headquartered at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. MFA's mission is "to create, provide and expand positively lifechanging experiences through music for all." One of the largest and most influential national music education organizations, MFA combines programming at a national level with arts education advocacy and online services.
MFA's summer camps make it possible for music students to spend an inspired fun week with renowned teachers, exciting artists, and fellow campers from across the country and around the world. Students not only grow as musicians and performers at the MFA camp, they have positively life-changing experiences.
Bands of America (BOA) and Orchestra America are also Music for All programs, which since a humble beginning in 1976, now hosts events attended by more than 300,000 people, in which more than 85,000 teens participate.
An alternative take on the music camp idea is Drexel University's Music Industry Summer Program. Intended for mature high school students who are at least 16-yearsold, the Drexel program is hosted at the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design in Philadelphia. The program introduces young students to the music industry through a one-week intensive workshop. Taught by music industry professionals, Drexel's program includes classroom training, hands-on studio experience in a recording lab, performance opportunities, lectures, and guest speakers. The Monday through Friday program is designed for students interested in song writing, digital audio production, sound mixing, artist promotion, talent management, and other skills that help sustain the music industry.
For help in finding a suitable program for your students, MetronomeHome.com publishes an extensive list in spreadsheet format of available summer music camps. The list conveniently provides each program's location by state and city, the type of program offered, who to contact, eligible age ranges, program size, cost, and a handy description of each program's highlights.
Kidscamps.com publishes another such directory. The Kidscamps listing is sorted by state and highlights programs in several foreign locations as well as in the U.S. Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras (www.mcyo.org) offers a roll call of more than 100 programs that focus on orchestral instrument instruction. The list, created to benefit the organization's members, includes a large number of day programs in the Maryland suburban area as well as residential programs on the East Coast. Other popular, unique, or excellent residential programs are also included. To make it easy for you to find out more about programs in which you are interested, this listing includes phone numbers, email addresses and website locations when available. Where programs have submitted detailed narratives and descriptions, the MCYO editors have included them in their listing.
Most music programs now make it easy to enroll online. But students should be prepared to sign up as soon as they know they are interested, because enrollments often begin a year in advance, and popular programs fill quickly. Auditions may be a prerequisite of admission, so be sure to ask. Music programs are available in a wide tuition range, though scholarships are usually available for talented students who need them, so don't be afraid to inquire. If one of your students should express interest in a program with which you are not familiar, your state or regional music association should have accreditation information, as most credible music programs have some sort of certification.
Music campers are usually encouraged to also take part in summer camp activities like cookouts, mixers, trips, and sports to help them make connections, get new ideas, and explore new experiences. One attendee said enthusiastically of her program, "I didn't really realize until I got here how amazing it is, how great the instructors are and how much I would learn while I was here."
For students who'll benefit from a great musical challenge and are looking for a chance to develop their skills, talents, and training, band camp is the right place. Interlochen conductor and Director of Orchestra Programs Jung-Ho Pak salutes the campers who have earned part or all of their tuition, "It really is a testament to how much they want to be an artist...it's about sacrifice. But it's also about love and the things we do for the things we're passionate about." It's also about studying with some of the best instructors from all over the world, surrounded by others who love music just as much as you do.