Summer Program for advanced level kids of age 8-15?

May 8, 2023, 1:36 PM · Dear all, I am looking for good summer programs which accept children between 8-15 years old, covering violin instrumental private lessons, chamber music ensemble, masterclasses and concert opportunities.
I found most reputable programs only accepting older students, it’s quite difficult to find something for my daughter who is currently 8.
Appreciate any suggestion from the forum here, thanks!

Replies (17)

May 8, 2023, 1:45 PM · Heifetz has a junior division. Not sure if that's "reputable" enough for you.
May 8, 2023, 3:24 PM · Interlochen takes students starting at 3rd grade after summer - so presumably your daughter can start this summer. Most summer camps are residential camps and 8 is borderline too young for sleep away.
May 8, 2023, 3:35 PM · Btw you can always email the contact person for more advanced programs and ask to make an exception for your daughter. You can opt for her to stay off campus with you and just join the program during the day.
May 8, 2023, 3:48 PM · The issues are (a) socializing between different age groups is tricky and possibly unwise, (b) generally younger children are less reliable with respect to knowing what to do in a situation or even just following rules, (c) maturity about handling criticism, so if your 8-year-old is in a string quartet with three teenagers, the coach might worry they have to soft-pedal their comments. Now, my experience is that prodigies are usually more mature than others of the same age, but I'm guessing a lot of these camps have tried to accept especially precocious children under their age minima, and they ended up regretting it.

At the camp that my kids have attended (Blue Ridge Suzuki Camp*), if your child is under 13, you're going to camp, too. No drop-offs under 12. They have a "teen cabin" with an adult chaperone for the teenagers.

*Plug for Blue Ridge Suzuki Camp -- wonderful place, extremely welcoming. Not for prodigies. For normal kids to enjoy a really comprehensive experience with good faculty and a nurturing environment. They also accept guitar and even a few piano students -- helpful for when there is a sibling who is not a violin student.

May 8, 2023, 3:55 PM · How advanced are we talking? I had similar issues with my kids as well, with most programs not taking kids before age 12. This is mostly just because kids are not ready to be independent until age 12, so it takes A LOT of staff to take care of the younger kids.

I only know US programs.

The one that takes them the youngest is Heifetz Junior Program (age 8/9 is the youngest). There are several other programs that will allow kids who are 8-11 to attend, but they have to live off campus with a parent. These include Indiana University's Summer String Program, Center Stage Strings, Aspen, and to some degree Bowdoin. There may be some others, but those are the main ones I know.

Most of the advanced programs start taking kids somewhere between age 12 and 14, so in the upper ranges mentioned in your question, you should have no problem finding something. Perlman, Meadowmount, Encore Chamber, Morningside Music Bridge, Center Stage Strings, Ascent, Bowdoin are just a few of the options. There are also orchestra camps for this level like NYO/NYO2 and BUTI.

There are some other junior programs, but they tend not to be that advanced. For example, there is a program at Interlochen for elementary-aged kids, but only the advanced program (which is usually 8 kids) would likely have any value. The level is otherwise really quite low. Some of the Suzuki camps have advanced programs (post-Suzuki level) but they vary in quality and level.

Is this for this year? Most of the advanced programs required you to apply in January or February, so you are out of luck for most places this year.

May 8, 2023, 6:19 PM · Greenwood Junior is a lovely chamber focused 2 weeks in the Berkshires.
Heifetz Junior is a bit free form for a kid that young.
As was said, you'd be looking at next year.
May 8, 2023, 8:06 PM · You could try Summit.

I think there were 8 year olds there when we were there, but they’ll need a parent or other responsible adult around.

Edited: May 9, 2023, 2:57 PM · Any program involving chamber music for children that young really needs patient coaches used to working with kids that age. You also need really special kids who aren't just good with their instruments, but have the social and collaborative skills to work well together as a group.

I don't think putting an eight-year-old together with substantially older kids in a chamber group is wise, unless they're really extraordinarily mature. My son, who is a 7-year-old 1st grader, plays in an orchestra with kids who are in 5th - 8th grade, and the maturity gap is meaningful.

(That kind of mixing also means kids get exposed to conversations you might not want them to have.)

May 10, 2023, 7:14 AM · Thanks all for the advices and suggestions! The feedbacks you all offered are truly insightful and informative.
Heifetz Junior is one of our target summer programs but unfortunately it closed the application so early in Jan so we missed it this year but would surely consider to apply next year.
The Summit Music Festival seems to have strong violin faculty, I have just bookmarked it for further consideration. The Greenwood Music Camp seems great too but they closed application for violin players unfortunately??. Will bookmark it too for future consideration.
May 10, 2023, 10:22 AM · I also agree that challenges for her to play with older teenagers are not techniques but more on the emotional and mental maturity. But if I put her in a group of beginners with simple pieces, where most peers are still struggling with intonation and rhythm, she is totally not motivated or interested.

By saying “advanced”, I refer to the equivalent of Rode caprices, Bruch concerto, Mozart 1/2/3 concertos, Beethoven sonata etc.

May 10, 2023, 10:39 AM · Gracie, my daughter was at Summit last year, as was I, as a chaperone. Feel free to email me if you have questions.
May 11, 2023, 12:28 AM · I think sending a young child to a mixed-age camp to participate in private lessons and masterclasses is one thing.

Participating in orchestra is a little distinct; the typical eight-year-old doesn't have the attention span, focus, or maturity of a child who is in middle school, much less a teenager in high school. Expecting them to participate in an orchestra environment with older students is not necessarily fair to them, the rest of the orchestra, or the conductor.

Participating in chamber music is a wholly different situation. Collaboration requires discussion, and expecting an eight-year-old to interact as an equal with middle schoolers, much less high schoolers, is almost certainly both unrealistic and unfair.

If I were you, I'd look for a camp that has excellent private lesson and masterclass faculty, plus a good selection of enrichment activities, instead of looking for orchestra and chamber opportunities.

May 11, 2023, 7:51 AM · My daughter really enjoyed Heifetz Junior as a 12 year old but I would not have been comfortable sending her by herself at 8 or 9, from our experience.
May 11, 2023, 9:52 AM · I will have to accompany her during the camp. I have never thought of sending her alone by herself. Thanks Lydia for the suggestion, very valuable perspective.
Edited: May 11, 2023, 5:24 PM · Gracie, my wife and I run a solo camp in early July for kids as young as five in southern Connecticut. In addition to the usual lessons and performance classes, they meet with the festival orchestra principals every day to work on their solo repertoire and prepare it for the concert at the end of the week, where they are accompanied by the full orchestra. The ensemble is all professional musicians.

We've had the whole span of kids from five year olds doing Vivaldi A Minor to older ones firing out Bruch, Lalo, Barber, Sarasate, etc. Our faculty even includes our very own Mary Ellen Goree! Get in touch with me and I can send you some more details.

May 13, 2023, 11:12 AM · Hi Gene, thanks for the kind introduction of your camp. I will discuss the various options with my daughter’s teacher. Will reach out if I need more information. Appreciate it!
May 13, 2023, 11:44 AM · Parents not allowed at Heifetz. (You could stay in town, but kids are in dorms.)

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