From A.J. Noble
Posted December 23, 2009 at 10:42 PM
I am currently researching summer music camps for my daughter, who will soon be 10. There really aren't any local options for her age group, so I am looking for a one or two-week session at an overnight camp. I've looked up quite a few online (Kinhaven, Luzerne, Point Counterpoint, Strings International Music Festival, Greenwood, etc...), but I'm wondering if any parents or violinists can share their personal experiences. Which camp would you recommend for a young violinist? What are the good and bad points about these camps? Are there any particular questions that I should be asking when I contact the camp directors?
Thanks for any and all input.
Depending on her birthday month, your daughter will be finishing grade 4 or 5. To my knowledge, there aren't a lot of camps for kids her age. Suzuki Institutes are for kids with a parent, and include much younger children, but if she is not a Suzuki student, this is not a viable choice. There are two one-week camps I can recommend here in NYS that have campers her age. NYASTA string orchestra & chamber music camp is held on the campus of Ithaca College. The teachers & counselors are pretty much all public-school teachers or music/ music education majors. Kids are completely chaperoned & occupied, and the program is solid. Bristol Music Camp is held at a 4-H camp in the central Finger Lakes. It combines a traditional outdoor camp atmosphere with music ensembles, group lessons, etc. You should be able to find both by googling them. There may be an ASTA summer camp/program in NJ, too. Sue
Interlochen is a wonderful camp in Michigan. The kids in the junior division (elementary school grades) are very well-cared for. There are nurses on staff 24 hours a day, escorts and helpers all over the campus and terrific camp counselors. They had an advanced junior string program the years my youngest son went, where they formed just a few quartets based on auditon CDs sent in advance. My son had coaching from the Pacifica Quartet. His time in this advanced junior string program gave him enormous confidence and momentum which carried through the rest of the year. There are orchestras at several levels and the conductors are wonderful. My son, who is now almost 16 still talks about the pieces they played and those the older orchestra played.
The kids in the junior division range from Suzuki students with very beginning music reading abilities to those who are in pre-conservatory programs, and have entered concerto competitions. They have supervised practice time (one hour), and private lessons. They see some terrific concerts (Joshua Bell, Nadia Salerno-Sonnenberg, etc...) In addition, there are the normal camp activities like canoeing, hiking, crafts, campfires. My boys both loved their time at Interlochen.
Thank you for all of the suggestions; I will certainly look into them. The Advanced Junior Strings Program at Interlochen sounds tempting, although I'm not sure that I'm ready to send my daughter so far away, or for 4 weeks. Do you recall what level of playing they required for the program?
Happy Holidays to all,
My kids really loved the junior sessions at Kinhaven; I've heard similar stories about Greenwood, although have no direct experience. Kinhaven is beautifully situated in the mountains of Vermont and has a very caring staff with little turnover. I can't think of a better place for a 10-year-old who is serious about chamber music. There is not much emphasis on solo playing, however, but they do have a string orchestra an full orchestra, and the kids are very busy musically. As my kids have grown older, their Kinhaven buddies from age 10 and 11 remain among their dearest friends.
I have heard so many wonderful things about Kinhaven! I would love to send my daughter, but it sounds like we may have to wait another year. They indicated that they are looking for a minimum of Book 6 (Suzuki). My daughter is in the middle of Book 5, and won't be on Book 6 until some time this summer.
Greenwood, on the other hand, sounds less advanced, but perhaps I'm misjudging them. When I e-mailed to ask their requirements, they said that students should be able to shift into 3rd position and have the beginnings of a vibrato. It was not clear, however, what Book level they have in mind. They mentioned that they consider the Bach Double to be their minimum. Suzuki students learn the second violin part in Book 4, and the first violin part at the end of Book 5. Their requirements are rather puzzling to me as my daughter has a lovely vibrato and shifts up to 6th position.
I really don't know enough other violin students to judge, but are the skills that I mentioned not typical for a Book 5 student? I just assumed that they were. Do you think it's worth sending an audition CD to Kinhaven anyway?
It doesn't hurt to send an audition if you don't mind the cost of the application fee. Strings International does take kids of many levels and as far as I remember they don't require an audition CD, so it might be good to apply there as well. I would recommend sending in tapes to a variety of camps, some 'reaches' and some 'safeties'. Good luck! :)
Interlochen has in the past few years given parents the option of shorter sessions. I can't remember how long the Advanced Junior String Program was, (I seem to recall three weeks long, while the other orchestra program was two weeks) and it may be different now. As far as the playing level, I think about Suzuki Volume 6 for the Advanced Junior String Program at the low end. There seemed to be a lot around Suzuki Volume 4 (Vivaldi Concerti) in the upper of the two junior division orchestras. I looked up the Concerto Competition winners for that first year. One played the Bach A minor Concerto and one played Carmen Fantasy.
Thanks. This is really helpful, as it gives me an idea of where my daughter would fit in the general music program at Interlochen. I think that the Advanced Junior Strings Program would be a much better fit, although it's listed as being 4 weeks long. I'll have to give them a call.
I'll probably have to rank a few programs and submit audition CD's in order of preference.
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