This first day of spring, I yearn for summer. Not for the oppressive heat, humidity and swarms of mosquitoes that we see here in the Deep South, but for what I do during the last days of summer: Interlochen.
This will be my 6th (gasp!) year at Interlochen's Adult Chamber Music Camp. My first year the only people I knew were a few of the faculty through my teacher, including him. Over the years I have made friends with a diverse group of people who share a common passion for music. In the past few years, some of those folks have been fellow v.com-ers.
If you haven't been to the camp before and are planning on or thinking about attending this year, here are some FAQs:
1) Where should I stay?
There are three main lodging options: the Stone Hotel, Dorms, and "lodges". The hotel is where the meals are served and is the "hub" where schedules posted, an old fashioned bulletin board for communication between campers and faculty, and the go-to meet-up spot. The dorms are located close to the hotel and cost less than the hotel or "lodges". Lodges are rustic cabins that have a bit more space and privacy, but are generally located further away from the centers of activity and can be a bit of a hike.
2) What should I bring?
You really do not need to bring a music stand unless you plan on staying in one of the cabins. There are practice rooms available in some of the dorm basements late into the evening equipped with music stands.
You do not need to bring alot of music. The school has an extensive music library. Bring your part for pieces you really want to play if you want, but it is not necessary.
If you do not stay in the hotel, you will want to bring a hair dryer (if you use one). Other items that are useful no matter where you are staying are a light jacket, rain gear, flash light, and snacks that do not have to be refrigerated.
There is a small shop on campus with snack material, and "town" is about a mile or two down the road. It is amazing how hungry you get after playing until the wee hours!
Bring something to take notes with such as a small note-pad. You will also want something to keep a schedule on such as index cards or a smart-phone/tablet with a calendar app (more on that later).
3) What is the skill level of the camp?
Playing skills vary, however you should be comfortable playing your instrument. This is not a camp for pure beginners. If you are coming back after a long break, don't worry! You won't be alone, but I would suggest getting the dust bunnies out of your instrument before August :) If you are an advanced player, you also won't be alone. I have heard the Mendelssohn Octet and Bartok played at a high level by participants.
4) Do I need to practice music on the repertoire list in advance?
Not necessarily. What is listed are pieces that may or may not be assigned for you. Practice pieces that you would like to play with others, but don't go overboard with it. Unless you are familiar with a wide range of chamber music, you will be sight reading much of the time (which should be practiced!). More on that later...
5) What is the schedule / days like?
After the opening assembly, new campers will be assigned a mentor to help you get accustomed to how the camp operates.
The days are structured so that there is a large conducted ensemble in the morning (two different difficulty levels), followed by "organized ensembles". After lunch there are various master classes and pedagogy classes. After dinner are the faculty and quartet-in-residence concerts.
Then there is what is called "dis-organized" ensembles. A "dis-organized" ensemble are groups that are put together informally by you the participant, to play what you want when you want - even into the wee hours of the morning if you desire. This is where you want something to keep a schedule with so as to not double-book yourself or forget an appointment.
"Dis-organizing" starts happening the moment people start checking into their rooms or even earlier (I've seen it happen at the airport waiting on luggage!) It really starts picking up just before the opening assembly. So, have your calendar ready sooner than you think you should!
6) I'm a terrible sight reader. Is this really for me?
Yes!!! This is for you! By the end of the week, you will have learned more about sight reading than you ever will in an entire year. The key thing to remember is "no matter what happens, KEEP GOING!" If you loose your place, give the "I'm lost" look - someone will give you a rehearsal mark or measure number. You do NOT have to play all the notes. I've been known to literally sing measures that I couldn't otherwise play.
7) What else should I know about?
If you have a special diet, contact the Stone Hotel in advance. They can help make sure your needs are met.
The campus is BIG. Wear comfy walking shoes. There are shuttle carts that can take you to and back from most of the scheduled events.
Contact the Stone Hotel in advance for shuttle service to and from the airport for a small fee if you are flying in.
There is a local restaurant/pub or two a mile down the road if you get tired of the cafeteria food. There is also a national park across the street with hiking and swimming.
That's about all I can think of at the moment.
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