How do I choose the right music camp for my kids
How do I choose the right music camp for my kids?
These days there are literally hundreds of choices for summer camps and usually
several dozen of those are music camps. From Girls Rock Camp, to Intro to Guitar, to
Advanced Chamber Music, how is the parent of a budding young musician to decide?
As the parent of an eager seven-year-old musician and a music teacher myself who
has taught at several different kinds music camps over the years, I know the
decision can be daunting.
Obviously the best place to start is with your child. For most parents I have talked
to this is where the whole idea came from in the first place: Johnny’s friend did
Rock Guitar Camp last year and loved it, Mikayla has always wanted to be in a
Broadway Musical and she heard they are auditioning for the Sound of Music at the
school down the street. Most camps have clear age and ability requirements as well,
add to this scheduling, location and price and it may seem that the decision is
practically made for us.
Or is it?
Surprisingly, the one variable that I rarely hear parents talking about in the pick-up
line at school is the quality of instruction. I understand that the primary goal for
most music camps is to entertain the children while parents are at work, keep them
from killing each other and, maybe, expose them to a little music along the way.
While this may be fine for many open activity, outdoorsy type camps, music study
entails many very refined skills in technique, the development of a good ear and a
knowledge of style. The difference between an excellent teacher and mediocre one
is the difference between a child who is motivated and capable of reaching their
potential and a child that is frustrated, bored or, worse, decides they don’t like
guitar (or piano, or singing or whatever) after all.
Before settling on a choice of music camp I would encourage parents to dig a little
deeper and check to see that the instructors have experience teaching young
children and, preferably, have gone to college to study music pedagogy. Teachers
who are certified by a national organization such as Suzuki teachers, or the Music
Teachers National Association also are more likely to have some music education
Finally, make sure the camp is appropriate for your child’s ability. I remember a
budding young guitarist who, after one summer in which he found that he was so far
below the other musicians in the Chamber Music Camp, that he dropped out of
guitar completely. Consider if a camp that broadens your child’s interest such as a
World Music Camp or Improvisation Camp would be better or if they are ready to
take things to the next level with something more intensely focused on their
Above all, try to find friends with first hand experience with the music camp. There
is nothing like a little inside information to cut through all the glossy marketing.
Klondike Steadman is a director at Orpheus Academy of Music in Austin TX.
Orpheus Academy of Music is an after-school music academy offering private
lessons and group classes in Guitar, Piano, Violin and Voice to students of all ages.
For more information please visit www.orpheusacademy.com