Monday, January 4, 2010

Summer Music Camp
Time to Make a Plan!

Shocking! It's barely the beginning of January and we're asking you to make plans for the summer. This is how the summer music camp cycle works. Sign-ups and registration usually occur within the first few months of the year, so don't miss your opportunity. Good camps often fill up very quickly with returning students. If you are changing camps or looking for your child's first music camp experience you haven't a moment to waste.

A summer break from regular practice can be the final blow for some struggling students. Music camp keeps them engaged with playing their instrument, even if they have a break in lessons.

For young students a music camp can be the experience of a lifetime. Music camp is about, well, MUSIC. Students are immersed in music, with kids playing music everywhere, alone, together, jamming, collaborating, encouraging each other, working happily and cooperatively with enthusiastic adults. It is inspiring, especially if your child plays an instrument not accommodated by their school band, or if they attend a school that doesn't integrate music in the curriculum, or they've been hitting a rough patch with practice. Music goes from being a "stand alone" experience to being an all consuming experience, and kids LOVE it. A child who is struggling with their commitment to their instrument most often comes away with a new found enthusiasm and ambition.

There are many fine camps for chamber music and ensemble playing for older students, even those who are not planning on a professional career in music, so don't get discouraged if you have to search to find the right fit for your child.

Older kids will often be given ensemble or solo pieces to be prepared in advance, so they have goals to reach before their bags are even packed.

How do you find the right camp?

First, ask your child's music teacher if they have a preference. Second, consider combining camp with a family vacation and searching out an experience that may not be available locally.

Googling summer music camp will start you on your way. The Suzuki Association of the America's has a listing of summer "institutes" here.

Take the time to speak with the camp director before you sign up your child. Ask questions about the staff, a typical day, lodging, facilities, recreational opportunities, practice pianos and practice spaces, performances, and overall camp philosophy. Some camps pride themselves on providing a challenging and competitive environment for the kids, other camps are more focused on fun and collaboration; what best suits your child's personality and needs?

What about breaking away from a classical music camp experience and going for a jazz, rock, folk or traditional music camp? This may be just the boost an older child needs to pump up their interest in their instrument. Again, check out the camp thoroughly to make sure your expectations are accurate.

Is is worth sending a beginner musician to music camp? Absolutely. Other kids are great role models for younger musicians, and the experience of being among a group of musical peers is profound, even if they are still learning their very first songs.

Stay tuned, next week we'll post guest writer Kristin Bolton's article about how a summer music camp transformed her child.

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1 comment:

  1. I agree with a free day pass to try out the camp. This will definitely verify whether your kid will enjoy staying at the camp or not. This is what my brother did for his kids last summer. The kids enjoyed their summer so much that they won't stop talking about their time there.


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