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Important factors to consider when choosing a summer music camp

According to the National Summer Learning Association, numerous studies show that summer learning opportunities lead to higher graduation rates and better preparation for college. Keeping children engaged through enriching experiences and activities have also been shown to positively affect their self-esteem, confidence and motivation. For those who don’t participate in summer learning activities, the break can lead to serious academic consequences. By participating in summer camps, students return to school with improved social skills, project planning skills, confidence and an increased awareness of learning and leadership. Experiences that children have at a summer camp can be profound and remembered long after the summer is over.

It’s never too early to start thinking about where to send your child for summer camp. Although many camps can teach a child valuable skills, it’s worthwhile to consider sending your children to a summer camp that specializes in something that fosters both intellectual and social growth. Music camps offer children the opportunity to develop their abilities while interacting with peers.

Music is a great way to keep children engaged in learning, encourage them to develop previously unseen talents, while teaching them new techniques. By participating in musical activities over the summer, students return to school with improved skills, confidence and an increased awareness of learning and leadership. Appreciation and dedication to music should be fostered by keeping it fun and building a sense of community that the students can carry with them beyond camp.


Do choose a camp that fits your child's musical goals and interests

By researching and asking questions, you can ensure your child has a great time while becoming a better musician. Summer music programs should be specifically designed to take every student through their unique musical journey, always giving them something to aspire to. Although every student has their own source for inspiration, the diverse music taught helps them hone their skills and develop into individual artists. All students should be encouraged to reach a high level of achievement, grow as artists and become leaders in their communities.

Do choose a camp with a well-grounded philosophy

A well-grounded philosophy will distinguish a good camp from a great camp. Examining the values and objectives of the music camp will ensure a positive and fulfilling experience. It is important for the child to be presented with opportunities that build into a series of personal accomplishments, such as working with fellow campers and learning how to succeed as a team. Choosing a camp that places a high value on team dynamics will challenge students with new material, help them gain a foundation in theory and songwriting, as well as teach them how to work in a group setting with other students.

Do choose a camp that is open to musicians of all skill levels

By taking the approach that everyone has insight to offer, instructors teach students to feel confident about making music with others, and even those who have been playing for a longer period of time. Music programs should be designed to create a supportive environment where music students of all skill levels are comfortable yet challenged at every turn. Whether they are beginners or seasoned musicians, there should always be something new to strive for.

Do choose a camp that provides a chance for all students to perform

Traditional lessons are undoubtedly important for helping students learn the basics. However, learning also occurs when students collaborate with others. Playing in a group setting speeds learning and creates “seasoned” musicians. Through a performance-based approach to music education, students are more inspired to learn, motivated to excel and confident across the board. Not only do children learn to be great musicians, but they establish a strong work ethic, learn teamwork, and gain confidence that they can take with them throughout their lives.

Do choose a camp with experienced music instructors

Some camps employ high school or college students to lead younger children, while others require college degrees more experience. It is important to make sure the staff is engaged and interested in interacting with the kids and that teaching music is more than just a summer job. Qualities to look for in a good camp counselor include good communication skills, enthusiasm, dependability, patience, the ability to cooperate, integrity and sportsmanship.


Do not choose a camp that acts as an extension of school

You want to find a camp that puts an emphasis on education, without being an extension of school. A music camp should be unique, with a wide range of activities your child wouldn't otherwise have access to introduce them to a whole new set of skills. Make sure you understand the music program's values and mission, and see if its approach and activities match both its goals along with your child's interests.

Do not choose a specialized camp that your child isn’t passionate about

Motivation comes from many sources, including the belief that an activity is challenging but not beyond a child’s ability, that the activity will be enjoyable, and that it has some real meaning to the child’s life. Summer programs built on children’s fundamental interests will lead to a greater opportunity for children to develop expertise in areas such as sports, music and performing arts. Being engaged in their own learning enhances children’s motivation over time, helping them develop goals and attitudes that can last a lifetime. As parents, you need to feel comfortable with the camp philosophy and know that your child is going to be safe and happy.

Do not choose a music camp that focuses on a single music genre

Variety exposes children to more styles, but more important, musical variety may help them learn better. Numerous studies have found that listening to a wide variety of music improves a child's ability to analyze and comprehend it. The more children hear different types of music, the more expansive their tastes and respect for artists and genres will become.

Do not choose a music camp that offers only one-on-one lessons

It is important to choose a program that will enhance your child’s growth and development as an artist. Giving children the opportunity to practice and perform in a group setting also encourages team building fundamentals and helps performers move beyond the printed page to musical awareness and understanding. By performing with peers, children will be able to experience a more rewarding and meaningful relationship with fellow musicians. Great camps place an emphasis on community, and focus on how they place kids together to create the most inclusive experience for all.

Do not choose a camp with a low percent return rate for returning campers

Consistency is an important factor to consider when narrowing down specific music camps. Return rates can differ depending on the type of camp and the program, but a good minimum return rate is 50 percent for campers. A high return rate among staff suggests a camp is well managed and can help preserve the traditions that create bonding among campers. Those with low turnover rates are more likely to offer well-rounded programs, with room for students to learn and grow as an artist year after year.

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Summer deserves attention because when school is out for the year, learning ends for many children. More importantly, the summer months represent a unique period of time, when children can learn and develop in a variety of ways that will help them in school and far beyond. Summer learning is not just about retaining information; it is about problem-solving, learning new skills, generating ideas, working in teams, gaining a sense of community and learning to be with all kinds of people. These skills all help build learning in a broad way and are key to help develop children into leaders at a young age.

More expert advice about Summer Camps

Photo Credits: School of Rock by Flickr: Andy Ciordia; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas -

Chris CatalanoCEO

Chris Catalano has established himself as a leading advisor in the music industry, serving as CEO of School of Rock since July 2010 and Chairman of the Board since June 2009. His passion and commitment to inspire musicians around the nation has ...

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