Long Lake Camp for the Arts

(photo: Long Lake Camp for the Arts )

Today's blog is a special guest post just in time for planning musical activities for the summer. Music camps and programs can be a great vehicle for learning and further enjoyment of music. Enjoy!

Summer Music Camps & Programs: Why, Where, and How

by Barbra Weidlein, MajoringinMusic.com

Is your child or student considering majoring in music in college? Or do they love music so much that the idea of spending the summer away from it is hard to imagine?

Summer music camps and programs are ideal for both types of students. By summer’s end, some who've always assumed they'd have a career in music will realize that music will always be an important part of their lives but not what they want to focus on in college and beyond. Others will discover a deeper passion for music as well as new areas or instruments to explore. Either way, anyone who loves music will be well-served by immersing themselves in summer music programs.

6 Benefits of Summer Music Camps and Programs

  1. Audition practice and support – Students approaching their senior year get a head start on preparing for pre-screens and auditions. Many summer music programs are staffed by faculty who will listen to their recorded and live auditions. This is a great time to get feedback and start thinking about how to present oneself to a prospective music school.
  2. Freedom from other distractions – Summer music programs offer an unparalleled opportunity to dive into one's passion without the confines of school. No tests to study for, none of the typical demands and distractions of the school year to pull students away from what they love.
  3. Pursuing music AND having fun – Whether attending a week-long program or one that lasts for six, students get to meet new people, jam, perform, develop a sense of community, and, depending on the program, participate in other fun, non-music- related activities.
  4. Exploring new areas of music – Summer is the perfect time to learn about new instruments, genres, and fields of music. Program faculty are more relaxed than during the school year, and have time to mentor students and develop supportive relationships that may last long after the program ends.
  5. Enhanced performance – By the time school starts, students who’ve attended summer music programs typically find their music has taken a giant leap forward.
  6. Practicing takes on a whole new meaning – Students learn how to practice longer and more efficiently. New practicing habits tend to be long-lasting.

Types of Programs and Benefits of Each

  1. Performing arts camps  –  For students who want a well-rounded summer, performing arts camps provide music lessons, practice, and performance opportunities. They also offer traditional camp activities, including water and land sports, hiking, overnight excursions, crafts, etc.
  2. Programs on college campuses – These tend to be more serious music programs and require an audition for acceptance. They offer a chance to experience what life would be like at particular music schools. Instructors are often faculty members, so it's a great chance to see what it would be like to be in their studios and classrooms. It's also an opportunity for them to get to know prospective college students. Students live in dorms, get familiar with the campus, and participate in group activities and performances that build connections and facilitate new friendships.
  3. Instrument and genre-focused programs – Some programs are specific to an instrument, including voice, or to a genre, such as jazz, marching band, or chamber music. These programs are typically audition-based. They may take place on college campuses, thus offering all the benefits described above in #2. These programs offer immersion in one's area of musical focus. Connections made with faculty and other students in these types of programs often last long after the college years.
  4. Programs associated with music festivals – These are intensive programs for advanced student musicians. Often housed on college campuses, students who attend these programs meet faculty from all over the country and beyond in addition to a select group of other students.


    1. Duration of program – Music programs may last from one to as many as six weeks. There are advantages to each.
      • Short programs:These allow students more time to attend more than one program, to work for a good chunk of the summer,
      to perform with their hometown band or ensemble, go off on family vacations, or visit prospective music schools.
      • Longer programs: These are more immersive because of the time involved. There's a greater chance of bonding with other campers or program attendees;time to explore other interests; and more opportunities to incorporate and try out new techniques. Faculty also have a longer time to get to know and mentor students.
    2. Location, location, location!
      Program location is important on several levels.
      • A program at any distance from home offers an opportunity to experience what it's like to be away from home. This can be very helpful when it comes time to apply to college.
      • Experiencing a new part of one's state or country is exciting and broadens one's perspective.  It also provides a sense of what it would be like to live in that area for four years, as well as to commute back and forth for vacations, etc.
      • Studying music abroad in the summer offers exposure to the culture, music, history, language, food, and customs of another country. Since music majors frequently find they cannot fit a study abroad program into a four-year curriculum, summer abroad programs are worth considering for students who are ready for the independence, challenge, and cost.
    3. Speaking of cost…
      It is helpful to put cost aside when first considering summer music programs. While an ideal program may not be immediately affordable, thinking big opens the door to possibilities that would otherwise occur.
      Most summer music camps and programs offer scholarships to those who can show financial need. Since financial aid is often allocated before programs fill, it is important to apply as early as possible. As with applying for college, it is an acceptable practice to go back to a summer program to request (without expectations) additional support.
      Many programs, but not all, expect students and their families to come up with some portion of program fees as well as transportation costs to and from the program. Check out some of the creative ways students have managed to help fund their summer of music.

Finding a program that fits

Help your child or student find a “good fit” summer program by encouraging them to learn about what’s available. MajoringInMusic.com’s Summer Music Camps & Programs page is a great place to start, with programs listed by geographic area. The suggestions above should help clarify the kind of program that will allow a student to spread their wings and soar.

Action Steps:

  1. Decide on the goal you and your child want to achieve form attending a summer camp or program.
  2. Determine the type of program based upon the information provided above.
  3. Keep in mind the considerations, especially cost.
  4. Visit MajoringinMusic.com for more helpful tips and information.
  5. If you enjoyed this article, please Comment, Like and Share on your social networks.
  6. You can listen to my interview with Barbra on my radio show at DonnaSchwartzRadio on the BAM Network.

BWeidleinBarbra Weidlein is co-founder of MajoringinMusic.com, the website for prospective and current music majors. Barbra spent 23 years in the educational publishing field in addition to stints as a college counselor, educational writer and adult education instructor. Her background includes BA and MS degrees from Pennsylvania State University; serving as liaison to the jazz program at a local performing arts high school; working with numerous jazz education conferences and festivals; and fundraising for a community music school and high school music departments. Her background also includes many years of piano study and women's choral singing.