Summer Camps (Again!)

December 18, 2022, 8:22 AM · I feel like I ask this every year, and every year we end up back at Center Stage Strings (which we love), but I thought it worth asking since both my kids will be going this summer.

They are both at awkward ages. My son is 17 but will turn 18 by summer, so in theory he can attend a lot of the "college" camps (not all, though). My daughter is 13 and in 8th grade but is young for her grade and will be 13 until the end of the summer, so she is excluded from most high school programs like BUTI.

My son is looking for something shorter (~4 weeks), not super busy or intense, mostly solo and chamber music with plenty of time to practice. Level is very high for age (has placed in some international competitions; can play pretty much anything).

My daughter is the trickiest because she wants a program that will let her play both violin and viola. She doesn't want an orchestra-only program, but is otherwise flexible. She also doesn't want to be with little kids. On violin she is working on Bruch and Bach Sonata #1; on viola she is playing von Weber's Andante e Rondo Ungarese.

Any ideas?

Replies (13)

Edited: December 18, 2022, 10:31 AM · My suggestion is that when you complete the application materials for your daughter, make sure there is a place where you can include some comments to the effect that she is mature for her age -- musically, personally, and academically (if true) -- and make sure you get a positive response from their staff that they have acknowledged this information and will consider accommodating her into maturity-appropriate (rather than age-appropriate) groups and activities -- at least to some degree. Another strategy would be to say, "Can she do violin for orchestra and viola for chamber"? That's only a problem if their numbers for each activity are so closely calibrated that one switchover would cause problems with their system, which I suppose is possible. In other words, be specific in your requests -- obviously without coming across as a picky, impossible-to-please tiger mom (which you don't on If they don't respond to that at all, then that means they don't have the administrative bandwidth or structural flexibility to provide any sort of tailoring to your child's experience. At the same time, even though your daughter may be ahead of her years in some ways, I can understand that a group of 17-year-olds might not want to have her in their quartet because then the social part of that experience can become awkward.

Thanks for mentioning Center Stage Strings. I'm looking for a summer program for my daughter (cellist). She did Kinhaven last year and loved it (despite a week in quarantine with COVID), and PCP the year before and enjoyed that too. She's happy as long as she's around other kids her age who are equally skilled and equally devoted to making music. I think it's good for her to go someplace where she's not the best cellist there.

December 18, 2022, 12:25 PM · I've heard amazing things about Kinhaven, which does both orchestra and chamber, and your daughter would apparently qualify for the senior session. If the biggest concern is getting to play both violin and viola, that seems easily managed with a call or email to the camp directors.

I've stayed at Kinhaven for a couple of post-season chamber music workshops and the facilities are rustic. It really has that summer camp feel to it – similar to Brevard, maybe, which I loved when I was a 9th grader. (Brevard requires students to be at least 14 and is way more orchestra-focused but was an amazing experience, worth keeping in mind.)

December 18, 2022, 4:15 PM · I can't quite tell if are you saying you are wanting them both at the same place e.g. for better logistics? BTW I have the idea that playing both violin and viola will create opportunities.

I have the idea that you can't really do better than at Center Stage Strings, looks like a very good program.

A few more places I can think of for your daughter:

I don't have experience myself but my daughter's friend she has played chamber music with since 4th grade went to Encore in Cleveland last year and enjoyed it. Looks like they allow 13 year olds, and I want to think there were two shorter sessions such that you could attend one only.

Other folks we know have been to Green Mountain for chamber music since there is a strong UNCSA connection and we are not too far away. My daughter has done a master class with Kevin Lawrence there (violin), an excellent teacher folks we know would drive hours each week to take lessons from.

Would she have any interest in Meadowmount or Heifetz? She is straddling the line between the junior and senior program at Heifetz, could go either way, maybe lean older since her grade is higher.

My son enjoyed Brevard for piano but like Katie says very rustic. And very wet, like it's literally in a rain forest.

Edited: December 18, 2022, 8:22 PM · Mine is applying to Heifetz Junior, Encore and Greenwood Senior.
She did Heifetz Jr, and Greenwood Jr. last year.
My daughter loves Greenwood and has made great friends there, at 13 your daughter would be Junior which is a 2 week camp. They would jump at the viola willingness, I think.
Heifetz would also be Junior until 14, unless the kid is extraordinary. Heifetz are 3 or 6 week sessions.
Seems like your son would be a candidate for Perlman...

December 19, 2022, 6:34 AM · Ella, my daughter studies both with the same teacher, though she's only had a few actual viola lessons. Depending on what direction she decides to go in the next few years, we may increase that. Or not. She's very undecided right now. Her teacher typically has two or three viola students each year.

Paul, Center Stage Strings tends to have a really good cello class and a very beloved cello teacher. I'm happy to share more details.

I really like Kinhaven, but my daughter is a little hesitant about the rustic accommodations. I think they would likely be able to accommodate violin and viola since they switch groups multiple times during the session.

My son nearly went to Heifetz last year (full fellowship and everything) but it ran until right up to the international competition he was doing, and he thought that would be very difficult. This year is somewhat the same problem -- it runs right up until the start date of many conservatories and colleges and he wants a breather before leaving. I think my younger one might like the Junior program there, but we probably wouldn't do it unless both of them went (not a requirement, but it makes sense for a place like Heifetz).

Meadowmount is a hard pass for my daughter. No desire to experience practice jail. LOL

Matthew, my son auditioned for Perlman a few years back and was not accepted (it's very hard for violin, especially if you don't have a Juilliard connection). I don't think applying as a 17/18yo violinist will go well. They like to get them earlier.

We will look at Greenwood and Green Mountain and maybe Encore as well for my younger one.

December 19, 2022, 2:58 PM · Morningside @ NEC is a high level music camp that your son might be interested in.
Edited: December 19, 2022, 9:14 PM · Kinhaven has hot meals and flush toilets. Just saying.
December 20, 2022, 7:54 AM · Paul, not to start a dueling "camps in the woods" Greenwood has great food and yes, even flush toilets.:)
December 20, 2022, 8:54 AM · We used to stay in cabins every summer for Suzuki camp, so I don't know what the problem is about the cabins. Maybe having to go outside to a different building to use the bathroom? To me, that's part of the charm.
December 20, 2022, 10:32 AM · It's not really a different building at Kinhaven – at least not in the cabins where we stayed. You just walk outside your bunk room and into the showers/bathroom.

Basically there's camp-camps (cabins, mice, screens, bug spray, flashlights, dining hall) and college-camps (dorms, dining hall) – and the camp-camps will never be as fun again as they are when you're a young teen. The advantage I saw at Kinhaven was that she's on the cusp and could conceivably do the older/longer session if she wanted to. The junior session starts late (it would be too late for California kids, who mostly start school sometime in August).

December 20, 2022, 6:37 PM · Matthew, I meant only that Kinhaven is not as "rustic" as folks are maybe implying. Sure, the kids stay in cabins, and maybe those aren't air conditioned, but it's in VERMONT.

I believe both Kinhaven and Greenwood do the all-white garb with bare feet for performances also. Wonder whose idea it was first. :)

Edited: December 20, 2022, 10:48 PM · Hi Susan, I am directing a two-week solo performance with orchestra program with chamber music at my Summer Music Festival from June 26-July 8 that might suit your daughter's interests, particularly in being able to play both violin and viola. It's on the campus of Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Connecticut, with an amazing concert facility and great accommodations for boarding students on campus including all meals and lots of optional summer activities. Last summer our student repertoire included everything from Mozart 3 and the Bach Double to concertos by Lalo, Bruch, Barber, and Finzi, all accompanied by a professional orchestra.

You can read more about it here: SMF 2023

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