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The Weekend Vote weekend vote: Have you ever been to a summer music camp?

March 5, 2010 at 5:44 PM

It's time to apply to summer music camps and festivals, and as my students send out their applications, I'm getting nostalgic about my childhood days at music camp.

My camp memories are so embedded, I think they reach right down to my DNA. I can remember the first time I played outside, in the Rocky Mountains -- what a sensation! I was at Star Ranch, near Colorado Springs, with the Aurora (Colo.) Concert Musicians youth camp. "ACM" no longer exists, and I believe the camp we used has been nearly overrun by real estate development, but I can still remember the camp songs we learned to serenade the boys (I sang those same songs to my babies), I can still make a macrame bracelet, and I still can play the Pachelbel Canon by memory -- I learned it all there. As a senior in high school I came back and served as a camp counselor, one of the funnest weeks ever. Maybe it was when I really started being a teacher, too. I still remember that I had to give everyone in my group of kids an award, an award for SOMETHING, as we held an awards ceremony the last night, before the big dance. I had every award written up but one; I was agonizing over a very shy little red-headed girl who hadn't said much of anything all week long. When it came to me, what to give her, I laughed out loud because I knew it was right. She got the "Most Potentially Dangerous Award," and did that ever put a smile on her face!

Yes, these are memories that last a lifetime.

Have you ever been to a music camp? What are your camp memories?.

And by the way, if you are looking to go this year, you might want to check our Summer Camps, Festivals and Institutes. If you direct a festival, camp or institute, you might want to enter it in our database or update your entry from last year -- any member can do this.


Posted on March 5, 2010 at 8:59 PM

The early orchestral experience was fine...reveille and the mosquitoes  were not so fine

animated-mosquito.gif Bzzz image by Ghotimeal

Why didn't Noah swat those two mosquitoes?


From Carol Deaville
Posted on March 5, 2010 at 10:00 PM

Since my father was on the faculty at Interlochen, our whole family would head off for 8 weeks every summer to take part in all that the camp had to offer.  I ended up spending 20 summers of my young life there and only later did I truly appreciate how unique it was to have had that wonderful experience every summer.        

From Anne McKinley
Posted on March 5, 2010 at 10:27 PM

I attended the Sewanee Summer Music Center in Eastern Tennessee for two summers. It was a beautiful green area. There were a lot of very good students and teachers and the chamber music program was good. Martha McCrory was the director and we had a dog and composer pun-fest going on one year. Some of my favorites were "Dognanyi" "Wagner" and "Bark".

Hearing Aaron and Mary Lou Wesley Krosnick and Peter Spurbeck play at the faculty concerts was a highlight.


From Michael Divino
Posted on March 6, 2010 at 1:34 AM

 I went to the camp at University of North Carolina Greensboro three years in a row.  I've been trying to find one as an upgrade and as such, I'm not going to one this summer.  (Being a senior in high school is expensive ! )  I'll probably look into one for after my first year of college. 

From Mendy Smith
Posted on March 6, 2010 at 3:24 AM

 I also went to Sewanee.  The viola instructor let me play the final concert using her viola - all 16".  

As an adult, I've been going to Interlochen's Adult Chamber Music Camp for the past few years.  It's fun trying to tackle Bartok.

From Bram Heemskerk
Posted on March 6, 2010 at 10:15 AM

I went to this orchestra- and chambermusic summercourse: La Pellegrina in Bechyne in the Czech Republic , see also Festivals on this site and the movie I made during those days to give you an impression:

From Deborah McCann
Posted on March 6, 2010 at 12:20 PM

I went to the summer music camps sponcered by the University of Iowa.  Got to live like a college kid while still in junior high and high school.  Meet friends that are still in my life and got pushed and motivated to go beyond what I would have by great mentors, conductors and music.  My mother says she wished that they could have afforded Rocky Ridge or Inerlocken, but I still am glad for the time I had at the U of Iowa camp.

From Alice Kowalski
Posted on March 6, 2010 at 2:21 PM

Oddly enough, I've been to quite a few Winter music camps, but never a Summer camp...

From Samantha Barcus
Posted on March 6, 2010 at 3:44 PM

 I've only been to the florida state string orchestra camp. I had the best time. Going there would really be worth it.

From Philanthi Koslowski
Posted on March 6, 2010 at 4:10 PM


As an adult beginner, I'm considering attending SCOR! Rochester, a music camp that I came across while surfing for adult music camps. It's designed for Adults from those who have never played a string instrument (cello, violin, viola) to string teachers to advanced amateur and professional musicians and offers different tracks depending on level and/or interest. The founders also offer mini-SCOR!s throughout the year in different parts of the country.

Here's a link to the SCOR! website:

Here's a fun You Tube link to a spontaneous "jam session" from last year's camp:

Let me know if this sparks an interest in any beginner members. If it does, perhaps we can meet this summer!



From Anne McKinley
Posted on March 7, 2010 at 1:57 AM

Nice video, Bram.

Thanks for sharing.

From Dimitri Musafia
Posted on March 7, 2010 at 11:37 AM

I'm glad you brought this up, Laurie. When I was going through adolescence (my kids are now, but that's a different story...) I didn't have much of a social life. I pretty much kept to myself and had few close friends.

However, when I went to music camp (Arrowbear, in CA) I suddenly found myself in my element, because I was with people who liked the same things I did, and we would make music together. I even managed one year to make first chair and was something of a celebrity. Definitely, music camp was the high-water mark of an otherwise boring adolescence, and I feel I owe much to it! 

My thanks to all of those who made it possible, especially Mr. O & Co. 

From Rosalind Porter
Posted on March 7, 2010 at 12:10 PM

From talking to friends who have children, I believe things have changed in Britain a lot since I was a kid, but it does seem that the whole tradition of "summer camp" - not just musical ones either - was a very American thing.   I wonder why that is?

I do remember going to one orchestral course in the UK as a 14/15 year old, but from what I've read about music camps in the USA, it was completely different in style and attitude, more like a week at a strict boarding school than anything else.

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on March 8, 2010 at 12:00 PM

 I never went to any kind of camp as a kid, except for a 1-week Girl Scout day camp one summer.  But I think I'd like to try one of the adult music camps when my kids are a little older and I have more time.

From Heather Meisner
Posted on March 8, 2010 at 10:45 PM

Hi – my daughter and I will be going to BC Fiddle ‘Treat at Gavin Lake BC for the 4th year this July (luckily quite close to us).  We would love to go to a classical music camp too if there were any even remotely close to us, as we learn and play both.  This is a special place though – I think could be enjoyed by anyone who loves any kind of music and it has been going for about 17 years now I think. 

Some of the best Canadian fiddlers, from BC to Nova Scotia, teach here and camp together with the students and families.  They are professional performers, recording artists, teachers, most are classically trained but are also masters at their specific fiddle style.  It’s held well away from towns and stores and traffic on a university research forest - for 6 days all you do is learn and socialize and have fun with other musically enthusiastic people.  There are cabins, lots of tent or camper spots and a large main hall.  Structured classes during the day (about 90% fiddle, but guitar, mandolin, banjo, piano, whistle etc. as well), with elective workshops through the week (stepdancing, specific fiddle styles/techniques, etc.), and an ‘event’ every night, followed by a professionally called dance, followed by a lakeside bonfire jam, all ‘till much past dark.    The evening events are things like open mic, instructor concerts, student concerts, band scramble (where they draw names for groups that then have something like a ½ hour to come up with a performance that involves everyone in the group, from beginners to very advanced - it’s hilarious).  It’s a sheet music free week, so if one wants to work on their ear, this is the way to do it.  It’s truly the best feeling to see 5 year olds and teenagers and 75 year olds all enjoying each others company, meeting up with each other each year, and making music together - that just doesn’t happen in our normal lives very often.  Hearing little kids running around in their pajamas, practicing what they learned that day before bed and all the little mini jams that spontaneously fire up.  Its’ like the best camping experience you have ever had with friends and family, and add 150 – 200 people all enjoying the same thing , great food and a ton of music.  If anyone finds themselves in BC…

From Laurie Niles
Posted on March 9, 2010 at 11:21 PM

I love all these stories!

I guess I must add that I just got back from coaching a short winter retreat in the mountains by Santa Barbara for Westlake High School, and it sure reminded me of camp! What a wonderful time I had, in a beautiful environment. These kids have a wonderful teacher, Liz Blake, who not only has taught  them to play well but also has peppered their orchestra experience with neat events like this retreat!

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