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As students head off to summer programs around the country, it is time to reflect on just how meaningful these programs can be for fellows. Not only do they introduce musicians to like-minded peers and top teachers, but they also allow for intensive practicing and instrumental study.

How can you make the most of your summer? Here are some tips!

Be well prepared

Before you go to camp, make sure you have some solo repertoire polished and ready to play in classes or performances, if relevant. If attending a chamber music or orchestra camp and the repertoire has been preassigned, make sure you have a score and part ahead of time. Spend some time listening and learning the pieces you will be playing, and ask your regular teacher for help if needed with fingerings, bowings, or other suggestions.

summer campExpand your horizons

Most programs are not focused on just one instrument or age group. If it is permitted, attend masterclasses for other instruments, sit in on professionals or guest artists rehearsing, or watch studio classes given by other teachers. Look for as many interesting opportunities that you can find and stretch yourself outside of your usual box. Go to the extra optional lectures, volunteer for community performances, and even take advantage of the social or extracurricular opportunities.

Go to concerts!

Most summer programs include concerts, often performed by both students and faculty members, and usually free to students. Some programs are also held in conjunction with large, professional summer festivals or bring in guest performers. Try to see as many concerts as you can, even if they do not feature your instrument or your friends. You cannot overestimate the power of witnessing other musicians performing great music! Find some friends and go enjoy the music. You will be a better artist after watching other musicians.

Enjoy being around other musicians

Part of the fun of going to summer festivals and camps is being around other musicians your age and level – and maybe even older ones or higher-level players. Make sure you take time socializing with these individuals and making friendships. Don’t just lock yourself in the practice room the entire summer. These other musicians are likely to become your peers in college and the professional world, and one of them may just offer you a job in the future!

Don’t forget sleep and self-care

Sometimes musicians have so much fun at camp that they stay up all night socializing. Other musicians spend way too much time practicing without breaks and proper care of their bodies. Make sure you remember to take care of all of you, and that means sleeping enough, eating as healthfully as possible, stretching and warming up, taking breaks, and practicing other mindfulness or injury prevention techniques.

Fully immerse yourself

Many summer music festivals and camps mimic what life will be like as a music major at college or conservatory, or what life would be like as a professional. Now is the time to fully immerse yourself in this life. You might find you absolutely love it and double your efforts going forward. On the other hand, you might find out that it is not what you want to do with your life. That’s OK! It is better to figure that out at a young age.

Always ask for extra lessons and coachings

While some programs have strict rules on lessons and coachings, many do not. You may be able to get extra lessons with your assigned teacher, other teachers at the program, and even guest artists just by asking. If your program allows this, make sure to follow all the applicable rules. It is always kind to offer to pay for the lessons if the program does not make it clear that they would be included in the regular tuition fee.

Make an impression

Remember that some of the teachers, staff, and performers at your program may end up auditioning you at college programs or otherwise interacting with you in professional situations. Make sure that the impression you make is a good one. Be on good behavior, show up on time, be prepared, and express interest in learning. The early impressions they have of you may impact your future college plans and even your career.

Most of all, have a wonderful and musically-productive summer!


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