Summer program for 12-year-old?

November 30, 2017, 7:13 AM · I am looking for a good program for a 12yo. I'm still waiting to get recommendations from his teacher, but want to do my research.

Level wise he is pretty high. Current pieces are Saint-Saens Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso and Bach Partita 2. He just played Zigeunerweisen solo with orchestra. He plays in an advanced high school level youth symphony.

He likes solo, chamber, and orchestra, but definitely needs a program where he will have at least some time to practice.

Most of the programs I am finding at his level are 8th/9th grade and up. The ones for his age group seem to be a step down from what he is doing during the year. For example, even the Intermediate-age orchestra at Interlochen is playing music way below the level he is used to. And there don't seem to be too many chamber/solo programs for his age.

Any suggestions? Thanks in advance.

Replies (14)

November 30, 2017, 7:24 AM · I just simply never participated in any groups until 8th grade honestly. I was their level but my mother thought the older children would be a problem. This is just my own case
November 30, 2017, 8:03 AM · We're lucky to have a great year-round chamber music program plus three different summer camp programs that assign to groups based on ability. Nothing like that there? Like you say the out of town camps tend to be older kids, and I probably wouldn't send my middle school girl off on her own anyway :-).
November 30, 2017, 8:17 AM · There are dorm based programs which accept children this age. Look into the Heifetz Institute program for exceptionally gifted youth, as well as California Summer Music, and Idyllwild ( not as high level ) I am sorry, but the idea that a 12 year old, especially without extenuating circumstances shouldn't go away for any length of time is utter nonsense. Kids around the world routinely attend boarding schools and sleep away camps of the non-music variety, and these programs are usually heavily supervised. Your child will probably be more supervised there than they are at home, as the programs usually are afraid of frivolous lawsuits. Spending a few weeks away from home will foster independence and confidence in a safe ( perhaps too safe ) environment, and will serve as good first preparation for independent living. If your child is operating intellectually at an older level, research demonstrates that being with intellectual peers is more beneficial than being with chronological peers. The case for keeping children with kids strictly their own age is mostly a wives tale, and is not how the world functions for the most part.

Additionally, you may wish to ask for an exception to the age or grade requirements, as some programs will grant them. You may have to be a bit stubborn, but at most of the places I have been to that claim to be for a certain age only will make an exception if you push hard enough. Some just don't budge, but some will. I have personal experience receiving such exceptions, and know people who have, and none of us have ever regretted it.

November 30, 2017, 8:52 AM · My son is routinely the youngest or one of the youngest in pretty much everything, so he is very used to working with older kids. He's usually pretty mature, so I am not worried about the being away from home thing.

I will definitely take a look at those programs and consider some age exceptions since he will be 13 by summer anyway. Anything closer to midwest?

Edited: November 30, 2017, 11:26 AM · Check out Jacobs School of Music, they have a summer program that invites kids as young as 12. That's probably a fairly high level program (i.e., very competitive). The teachers there are going to be phenomenal. Hard to get more "midwest" than Bloomington!

I agree with Lieschen. Parents in the US are much more ultra-protective than other places in the world. Going to a summer camp is no big deal for a mature 12-year-old. I know parents who wouldn't let a child that age do such a thing, but then when I meet the child I understand why. The OP knows her child, she will make the right call.

November 30, 2017, 11:24 AM ·
November 30, 2017, 12:37 PM · His level, while advanced, doesn't seem to be exceptional for a 12-year-old. And a glance at Interlochen's website shows the 2017 repertoire for this age group -- stuff like Tchaikovsky 2, which isn't trivial (although not as hard as the Tchaikovsky 4 being played by the top high school orchestra).

Are you looking for maximally challenging orchestral repertoire as your top priority?

November 30, 2017, 3:44 PM · I am primarily looking for a program that will challenge and motivate him. I don't want him to go someplace where he is the top kid -- I want him to be with likeminded kids. He enjoys orchestra a lot, but he also loves chamber if he is with kids his level. I think he would do fine at Interlochen once he is at the high school level. But at the intermediate level he would definitely be one of the more advanced players's just not as competitive for the younger kids. And he is playing rep like Shostakovich 1, Dvorak 8, Rachmaninoff 2 already...the stuff the top HS orchestra there is playing. I wish he could just go to the HS program!

The Indiana program is definitely on my radar. The level spans a bit wider, but since it is 12-18 I am sure there will a good number of kids his level.

Edited: November 30, 2017, 4:55 PM · Susan,

Have you tried to convince Interlochen to take him into the high school level, or are they just not having it? I know they take the grade segregation stuff more seriously and all, having color-coded socks for different grade levels...

November 30, 2017, 5:15 PM · I think I found your son’s videos. He has star qualities!

Not close to Midwest but probably worth the travel cost.

November 30, 2017, 8:37 PM · Thanks Kiki -- he likes to emote. LOL He's really rough around the edges still, but he definitely has an innate musicality that can't be explained. I don't think he's quite ready for the Perlman program -- maybe in another year. He just started with a new teacher who will hopefully get him cleaned up.
November 30, 2017, 8:38 PM · Lieschen -- that's pretty much a no go at Interlochen from what I have been told.
November 30, 2017, 11:33 PM · I remember your son's new teacher from my childhood in the Chicago 'burbs. :-)
(We're close to the same age and we had the same teacher in early childhood.)

Note that the ability level of the middle schoolers at Interlochen is very wide and the music is chosen accordingly. You'll have some kids at an intermediate level and some kids that are very advanced. Seating challenges keep the kids, especially at the front of the section, on their toes.

December 1, 2017, 11:21 AM · There is something to be said about having "rough" edges; they can be reshaped and polished. :)

It doesn't sound like they do orchestra (?) and focus on chamber music instead. That might work out better.

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