Summer camps (again) (yes, it's early)

October 7, 2018, 10:25 PM · I know it is early, but I would love some summer camp advice for my son. I asked last year and you all were so helpful, but unfortunately I couldn't convince my significant other to let him go. This year my son is 13 (8th grader) and now has many more options.

About him: pretty advanced player for his age, in a highly regarded pre-conservatory program for kids 13-18, lots of chamber and orchestral experience. He's currently working on 5th movement of Lalo and solo Bach. He's reasonably disciplined and independent but could use a program that at least has a loose structure. His priorities are solo and chamber; orchestra would be fun but not necessary. He will happily practice 2-3 hours a day and play several more hours in rehearsals.

What I definitely don't want is a program that would be a step down from his Academy program. He will not be happy if he is not challenged or put in a chamber group with kids who aren't strong musicians. He can spot a mediocre teacher a mile away.

From looking at websites, the program that meets his needs best is Kinhaven but I'm just not sure about the level. Considering Meadowmount, IU, maybe Bowdoin or Heifetz. Do others have suggestions?

Replies (19)

October 8, 2018, 1:15 AM · You said "solo and chamber"? Which is the priority? I'm guessing chamber music, given the interest in Kinhaven?
October 8, 2018, 6:45 AM · I'm interested in comments about summer chamber programs for this age group as well; my daughter's grade, level, and interests are very similar. Her teacher has had kids in Meadowmount with the most recent one continuing as an assistant the last year or two, so that's probably coming. But it might be better for her to find something this next year of similar quality but not the entire summer and five hours of individual practice each day.
October 8, 2018, 9:24 AM · By solo I mean that he needs time to practice during the day. He doesn't necessary need solo opportunities -- just time to practice and lessons. The priorities would be practice time and chamber music. Thanks!
Edited: October 13, 2018, 1:45 PM · I so want to attend a Summer camp in 2018. I had looked at the International Harmony Festival in Italy this year and was giddy with excitement for 2 weeks FOR ADULTS only. https://www.interharmony.com/italy/ However, I could not afford to attend. The Aspen Music Festival would be so delightful, but I fear I would not qualify as 1st position Violinist. Aspen Music Festival is also expensive. I love Chamber, Sinfonietta and Symphony - for adults - classical, baroque or romantique.

Any other thoughts or suggestions for 2019 Summer? If I can select one and meet people there who are kindred spirits, I will practice and have a goal to that end.

Stephanie

October 13, 2018, 9:08 PM · Susan, I'd suggest also looking at the Castleman Quartet Program, but I think there's an age limit of 14+, so that might depend on when your son turns 14.
October 13, 2018, 9:17 PM · Stephanie,

Your bio says that you're a beginner, and I imagine that's what you mean when you say that you're a "1st position Violinist".

InterHarmony is for players who are at least advanced enough to manage the orchestral repertoire, I believe. And Aspen is for the very most ambitious pre-professional / young professional players -- it's exceptionally competitive.

I suggest you try Scor! string camps, which are designed for beginners: LINK. Ditto New Horizons camps: LINK

The adult orchestra-oriented camps, like Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Academy, require a minimum of intermediate level. The music performed there is generally hard, beyond what you'd see in a typical community orchestra. (BSO and Buffalo's Academy have done Strauss tone poems, Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet, etc.)

Most of the adult chamber-music camps also require a minimum of intermediate level.

Edited: October 13, 2018, 10:07 PM · Susan - Greenwood is similar in style to kinhaven, although I think it's fairly hard to get a spot since many of the same kids go year after year. You might also want to look at Encore in Cleveland - it's the same name as the program the Cerones ran, but it was restarted a couple years ago by Jinjoo Cho. Does his teacher have any suggestions? It's not too early to have him start studying with teachers in the summer who he might be interested in for college, if he goes that route.
October 14, 2018, 10:28 AM · Thank you for the feedback. Lydia -- from looking at Castleman, I think he would have to wait another year.

Irene - Greenwood is on the list. I recently heard about Encore -- do you know anyone who has gone? It looks very good, but there isn't a terrible lot of info available. I have talked to his teacher about it -- most of the kids from his program go to Aspen, Bowdoin, Heifetz, or Center Stage Strings, but my son is one of only two middle-schoolers in the program. The others are HS age. My son (who is both wise beyond his years and simultaneously a typical 13yo) has indicated he thinks he still needs a program with at least some structure to keep him in line.

October 14, 2018, 12:12 PM · I don't - although the faculty who I know are all wonderful, compassionate people as well as great pedagogues. Doesn't necessarily translate to structure, though. I'd suggest contacting them and asking for more details.

Thinking about it, though, if this is his first summer away from home I wouldn't necessarily rule out a place like Kinhaven because of concerns about level (no direct or indirect experience with it, so I can't speak to that). It can be helpful to take that first step away from home in a less stressful environment, where you can figure out how to manage yourself without also the pressure of being a tiny fish in a massive pond.

October 14, 2018, 3:40 PM · Was this his idea? So many people I met at camps were forced to be there. It is a miserable place to be if you aren’t 100% on board. A lot of teens on here are the ones asking about the camps themselves rather than the parents.

I will also say this. I went to summer programs, including some of the ones mentioned in the post for at total of six years. While I was enthusiastic about it leading up to the very first time I went, and it was totally my choice, I quickly realized that none of these places were exactly what I had hoped for, and also that I worked best in a non-camp environment with occasional check-ins. Lengthy camps aren’t for everybody, and they aren’t a complete necessity. Europe pretty much has a model of workshops in masterclass format that last a few days, and maybe a couple of weeks tops. On the other hand, there are certainly a lot of people who really enjoy the experience at a particular place, feel they get a lot out of it, and happily keep going back.

October 14, 2018, 5:01 PM · Oh, he definitely wants to go. He's been to Blue Lake Family camp for years (but the last two in the teen cabin on his own) as well as several 7-10 day festivals he's commuted to. He loves them. We're just trying to find the right fit. He's very concerned about making sure the program has a high quality teacher and enough practice time. Today he told me that is his highest priority.
Edited: October 19, 2018, 9:10 AM · I just realized that Heifetz is driving distance from us, and there's a connection with one of my daughter's music programs at Duke...she'll be in master classes this year with folks from there. I'd be interested in comments from people who have attended...if kids in their mid-teens are fairly well represented or limited to a few prodigies, observations about what the program was like for teens, etc. Really cool if anyone has personal experience with both it and Meadowmount.
October 20, 2018, 2:01 PM · Susan, I just got good feedback from someone who highly recommends both programs; they noted that there were few younger teens at Heifetz vs many at Meadowmount, and that although a different teacher each week might be good for an older teen deciding who they want to study with, for younger teens there are advantages to working with one teacher for the duration of the camp.
October 22, 2018, 3:38 PM · Thank you, Stan, that really helps. My son is more and more expressing a desire to go to more of a "practicing" camp (though frankly I would prefer something more rounded). I'm going to chat with his teacher about it again....
October 22, 2018, 4:24 PM · Greetings! This is my first posting and I hope it is helpful. My son, now 17, has attended several summer programs including Interlochen, Meadowmount and Aspen. If you are looking for a "practicing" camp, you can't go wrong with Meadowmount. One thing to keep in mind is that few students get to perform outside of studio class. Only the very, very top students will perform on stage. In our experience, Heifetz is a more difficult program to get into as a younger student Interlochen is a great camp, but there is little time to practice - even in the advanced quartet program. Aspen is now his favorite place to go, but students are completely on their own and if you are under 16 you must stay with a parent. However, the level of performance is "off the charts."
October 22, 2018, 5:21 PM · Thanks Steve, that's very good to know. I think performance opportunities are an important part of this; since she wants a focus on chamber music, it would need to extend beyond the studio. In the local summer camps they perform two movements at the end of each week, and there are multiple performance opportunities in both her chamber programs in the fall and spring.
October 22, 2018, 7:05 PM · Stan Yates,

I have been to Meadowmount. The rules there for students under 18 are more restrictive than those at a teen drug rehab ( I talked to a colleague who had been to rehab about it ). The liability phobia is simply out of this world. Just imagine living with the 10 worst helicopter parents you have encountered for 2 months ( except they don’t cook you safe food ). But it is definitely a camp where a lot of practicing can happen very easily.

October 23, 2018, 7:32 PM · Thank you, Steve! That is helpful information. And Lieschen as well!
October 24, 2018, 12:41 PM · I went to Heifetz, though long enough ago (on a completely different campus) that I'm not sure if my experience is still relevant. I was 16 or 17 and there were a fair number of students my age, but not many younger than me. I had one teacher for the entire camp and loved her, and I learned a lot and made a lot of progress. Personally, I hated the atmosphere, which I think was due in large part to Daniel Heifetz's influence, and he's no longer director. I thought it was restrictive in weird and unnecessary ways - I remember he railed against wearing sandals (in the summer!), for instance, and suggested strongly we dress up for lessons (i.e. suits), which everyone, including the instructors, seemed to promptly ignore. Also, they seemed to put together roommates with incompatible sleep schedules on purpose - I think the idea was to give everyone private time, but in practice we just ended up disturbing each other all the time. There were also mandatory meetings late in the evening and mandatory "fun" field trips - not something I go for, in general. I remember thinking the communication classes were dumb, but it did get me out of my shell and able to talk to an audience a bit. The food was terrible, but that seems to be a pretty common theme for all camps at this level. I know some of my friends who were also there that summer enjoyed it a lot more than I did, though, so I think it mostly came down to personality.

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