Why Should You Attend Summer Music Camp?
By Nicholas Handahl
You spend all academic year reading chapters, writing essays, and reconciling hypothetical mathematical conundrums. If hot dogs come in groups of 10 and buns in packages of 6, what’s your game plan? Then the bell rings, and sports, or drama, or tutoring, or the dreaded commute begins. Before you know it, it’s dinner time and you’ve still gotta get your daily practice in. (Or maybe you’re taking a day off here and/or there?? tsk tsk…) Then the weekend – and it’s on to something else.. music school, youth orchestra, family obligations, a part time job.. How do we do it?? The life of an aspiring musician is no joke, and take it only seems to get tougher!
So summer break FINALLY comes around, and it seems like time to sleep in, chill at home, go out with friends, and “treat yo’ self” right? I know what the little angel on your shoulder is saying..
Why do we practice? When we think about it logically, and simply, the answer is, “to get better.” Sure practicing dials in the needle on the tuner, cranks up the number on the metronome, and sears rhythmic melodies — correct or correct-ish — into our memory, but what is really going on here is that we are transmuting information into action. We are taking the advice, instruction, and influences we’ve gathered along the way and refining it into the best performance possible, whether performing for ourselves, our teacher, our reluctant family members going about their own things in other rooms, or ideally, a room full of interested, captivated, swooning audience members.
Progressing as a young musician is all about getting ahead of where you are at right now. You need to find ways to grow, ways to change. It is not enough just to practice, you need to diversify your influences, gather new ideas, broaden your peer-group, and put yourself out there. And it JUST SO Happens that there is the perfect place to do all these things… and unfortunately, it isn’t at the beach with your friends.
The Summertime is the perfect time to get out there — and summer music festivals are set-up to get you ahead. You will get progress-oriented musical structure jammed down your throat, (and if that isn’t what you’re looking for, that’s another issue to hash out..) but you will also make new friends from across the country and world doing exactly what you’re doing, soak up knowledge from people coming from totally different perspectives and backgrounds, and be exposed to repertoire and styles that you might not have else wise encountered years down the road.
The best summer music festivals offer you a chance to engage with professional performers and pedagogues – the big dogs – for a short, but in-depth teacher-student relationship. Summer music festivals become miniature worlds, where you have the chance to form deep bonds with teachers and peers all around you, and to extract information and directives that will continue to influence and compel you long after the last day of camp.
And rest assured, if you plan to go for it in music, the people you form friendships with at the music festivals you attend growing up will become your lifelong friends and colleagues in the music world. Ask any professional musician – the world is small, and you are guaranteed to encounter and re-encounter fellow musicians throughout your career.
To wrap it up: attending a summer music festival is the crucial dose of influence you need to get ahead. It will not only improve your practice with new ideas, but influence and inspire your resolve to become the best musician you can. Summer music festivals provide you with the raw material you need to accelerate your development, and the connections you make there will serve you in the most delightfully unexpected ways.