Interested in attending a summer strings camp?
Thankfully, programs to choose from has grown quite a bit over the last ten years. There are hundreds of places for not only children but also adult amateur and semi-professional string players.
That said, it's a frustrating task, trying to narrow it down to one.
And, if you didn't get an early start, spots in these summer orchestras, workshops, chamber groups, and masterclasses dwindle down to nothing. You need to start putting in your applications now.
Here are a few tips to make the selection process easier.
1. Set Your Budget
Some programs boast a hefty price tag. Setting your spending limit will help to narrow down your search.
Remember to include accommodation, meal plans, and travel in your budget. You may opt to supply your meals and stay in cheaper or free housing near the camp. However, it's often more affordable to use the music organization's resources; they may have worked out discounts for participants on room and meal fees.
If it's your child in attendance, then excluding the housing and meal plans from the budget may not be an option. Some programs offer scholarships and financial aid.
Adults sometimes volunteer, such as helping in the kitchen, setting up for events, or supervising younger attendees, in exchange for a lower admission price.
For two-plus week programs, plan on prices ranging from $1000 to $3500 -- without airfare or travel costs.
2. What Do You Want to Learn?
In classical music syllabi alone, you have different topics of study. For example, some programs hone in on chamber music, orchestral, or solo repertoire.
Many camps will provide a list of workshops to choose from, featuring classes in scale, shifting and vibrato studies, confidence building as a performer, preparing for auditions, and more.
Interlochen Summer Arts Camp is one example of a diverse syllabus; there is an adult chamber music program as well.
If you're interested in another genre of music such as Irish, bluegrass, Celtic, jazz, or blues, your specific tastes will also make it easier to pick a camp.
Places like Fiddle Hell combine a lot of these styles with hundreds of workshops offered throughout the four-day event.
3. Faculty & Guest Performers
Some people want to go to a camp which has their favorite musician or teacher on the roster. If there is someone, in particular, you've always wanted to see perform or study with, check the website's faculty and guest performer list.
Is the camp all music and not much room for anything else? Some places feature a nice dose of non-musical activities such as hiking, sports, talent shows, field trips and more, while other programs may only include breaks for meals and sleep on the itinerary.
If you or your child are a little more on the introverted side, you might prefer a program that focuses solely on the music and not socialization opportunities. Of course, others might value the chance to make new friends and participate in peer-driven activities. Nothing is wrong with either option.
5. Age Range and Skill Level
Some camps provide learning and performance opportunities for all ages. However, if you're an adult, you may want to spend your week or two with people of the same age range.
Children may also feel the same. They may want to hang out with youths their age.
Also, take into account skill level. Sometimes, it's inspiring to play your instrument with students more advanced than you. You can learn so much from higher level players. But it is not uncommon to feel discouraged in their presence.
If you're a person who tends to feel intimidated by higher level players, you might want to attend a camp with people at a similar stage in their music education. However, if you're up to the task and tend to feel motivated around these players, go for it! It is a great learning experience.
6. Day Camps
Check your local community college, university, or conference centers. Sometimes these locations offer day camps and summer institutes for learning a specific subject about an instrument.
You cut out travel and accommodation expense if it's local or a short commute.
7. Sleeping Arrangements
Where you sleep may seem like no big deal, but for some, being in a tent or a shared dorm every night could ruin or elevate a summer camp experience.
Some places are strictly tent camping. Others provide cabins, dorm-style or hotel rooms.
Pick what's most comfortable for you.
Please contact Fiddlershop via our chat system, firstname.lastname@example.org or (954) 530-5999 if you have any questions. We're always happy to assist! :)