News & Resources

June 2012


Selecting An Appropriate Music Camp

So you know that you or your child is very much interested in attending a music camp this summer, but might be asking yourself “How do I find the right program?”

Generally speaking, music camps are typically non-competitive and often take place in beautiful natural settings, as well as within urban environments – including Colleges/Universities and other more specialized “Schools of Music”. Many music camps are operated by professional instructors and sometimes will feature well known musicians to offer workshops and assist in courses.

Given the wide variety of musical genres, there likewise exists a broad selection of different types of music camps: classical, jazz, blues, rock, funk, hip-hop, bluegrass, choir, gospel, traditional “band camp”, and “jam camps” to name a few broad categories. Some programs may focus on a single style or genre of music, while others may offer a much broader program offering which includes a wide variety of musical genres. Similarly, a music camp might be dedicated entirely to a particular instrument (i.e. guitar, piano, drums, vocals, etc.) or to a family of instruments (i.e. strings, brass, percussion, etc.).

There are also differences in programming related to activities other than music which ought to be considered. At some music camps, the entire summer curriculum might be dedicated almost exclusively to music, while other camps may offer a much more general activity selection – while still maintaining music as a focal point. Along these lines, some music programs may “pair” music with another major activity set such as “Music and Dance”, “Music and Arts”, “Music and Sports”, “Music and Farming”, etc.

Since all camps are different, it is important to ask the director regarding genres, instruments, as well as the amount of time allocated to music in relation to other activities; however, it is ultimately up to you as a prospective camper and parent to decide what sort of program profile is most suitable for your goals, as well as your general nature, in terms of how you’d like to spend your time. Some individuals are focused on a specific style of music and or instrument, while others might be interested in exploring a greater range of possibilities. While some might be able to “live and breath music 24 hours a day”, others might benefit more from taking a “set break” every now and again throughout the course of the day and participate in an activity other than music (i.e. swimming, sports, computers, field trips, etc.) – which may allow one come back to music more invigorated/energized and perhaps with a different perspective.

Regardless of the extent to which some music camps might integrate non-musical; activities, there are also major differences with respect to how any given camp may approach the general topic of music. Some programs may focus more upon learning musical theory in a traditional manner and others may emphasize practice, performance, and learning improvisational techniques and methods to a greater extent. Along these lines, it may help if you or your child evaluates the importance of some of these topics, such as:

  • Learning music theory
  • Instruction and workshops on technique and effective practice regimens
  • Songwriting, arrangement, and composition
  • Playing an instrument by oneself (solo) or with others (in a band)
  • Learning about live sound / engineering
  • Recording audio tracks in a studio
  • Creation & recording of music videos
  • Live performance

Another aspect to consider is that of session length, which is often one or two weeks in duration; however, some programs may last all summer long and might be comprised of a single 4 or 8 week session, while other programs may string together multiple single or two week sessions in a sequence. Depending upon the particular camp, some session offerings are “linear & progressive” and might require having taken a pre-requisite(s) or the necessary skill level to advance to the next session in a sequence, while others are more of a “stand alone” nature and can be taken regardless of having attended any other related sessions.

A big question to consider is whether you’re seeking to attend a resident (sleepaway) music camp or a day camp? Residential camps can be a little bit more expensive than day camps … since room and board, as well as more extensive programming & supervision are required. While it could be argued that a residential music camp program might provide a more immersive experience, a day camp which is attended on a regular basis may also provide sufficient exposure for learning, fun, and flexibility regarding other plans for the summer. However, one of the major limitations regarding a day camp is that it needs to be located within relative close proximity to one’s home in order to be able to commute on a regular basis. On the other hand, a child may attend a residential camp at virtually any location away from home.

While it seems the majority of music camps are coed, there certainly exists programs which are either all girls or all boys if this is an important factor regarding your selection decision.

There’s often a live performance aspect to music camps which takes the form of a recital, concert, or band performance … often in a festive context which may allow for the attendance of family & friends, and might be recorded as an audio track or on DVD (or both).

You are able to search for a music camp on the Camp Channel as well filter by state (if you scroll to the very bottom).

We’ll be back in just a little bit.