Put a Song in Your Summer

Before “American Idol,” “America’s Got Talent,” and “Glee” exploded on prime time television, parents prepped their children for backyard plays or the annual school talent show. But now with these hit TV shows making stars out of raw talent, music-themed summer camps are more popular than ever. Fortunately, the Bay Area is home to hundreds of music schools offering summer camps for all ages, levels and instruments. There’s a stage in one of these for your child to shine on.


Community School of Music and Arts


One of the most varied in offerings is the Community School of Music and Arts, or CSMA, in Mountain View. CSMA offers weeklong summer music workshops from June 13 to Aug. 12, with fees from $150 (flute and brass camps) to $550 (cello workshop).  CSMA also offers junior string ensemble and jazz workshops ($180 each).


Sixth-grader Jimmy Levi, who plays the viola, attended the junior string ensemble workshop last year and loved the concert that showcased the participants’ skills. Josephine Kraemer, 14, another participant, liked the conductor because he “was entertaining, making rehearsals less dull.”


For the more pop and contemporary-inclined, CSMA offers the “Train for American Idol Vocal” and the “School of Rock” workshops. These are offered to students from age 5 to young adults with previous music training, or by audition.


For “American Idol” former campers Mia Brossard and Casey Marquez, both 14, one of the best parts was learning voice technique and singing solo in front of an audience.


Allan Lock, 13, a former “School of Rock” camper, says the workshop helped him become more interactive with other band members and allowed him to experiment with beats.


A special new media camp, “Young Musician’s Digital Camp,” teaches children from ages 10 to teens how to compose and record music digitally. CSMA music school director Mary Holmes thinks this integration of technology with traditional music is “vital to the compositional realm.” “We’re after the comprehensive musician,” she says, adding that today’s musician must know the language of music in all its forms.


Some of CSMA’s regular summer camps are geared toward younger musicians. Of the 50 courses offered in five two-week long sessions (June 13-Aug. 19,) four have musical components, including “Theater and Music Magic” for those in grades 2 to 3 and “Broadway Bound” for those in grades 4 to 8.


For more details, see arts4all.org/study/on-site/camps-and-workshops.htm.


Vivace Youth Chorus


In San Jose, the Vivace Youth Chorus offers a music and arts camp for 6- to 10-year olds for $200. The camp teaches music theory, singing, dance and movement and arts and crafts and runs Aug. 1 to 5. This year, the camp’s theme is “Splash”; campers will weave together songs, art and dance with a water theme, says Peggy Spool, Vivace’s artistic director. Last year, the camp focused on songs that pertained to “dreams, lullabies and things that go bump in the night” to reflect the theme “Music of the Night.”


Held at the Stone Church on Lincoln Avenue, Vivace’s summer camp also features an instrumental workshop. At the end of the week, participants perform for family and friends and display the art they created.


Jeanine Raymond, 15, is a former participant who worked as an aide at the last camp. “It’s fun to help (the kids) learn and perform the music because it reminds me of when I was a camper,” she says. “I’m there to support them.”


Jeanine’s brother, Christopher, 9, was a camper last year. He says the experience made him “feel more confident.” The Raymond siblings are both members of the Vivace Youth Chorus, but the camp is open to non-chorus members, as well.


For more information, visit vivaceyouthchorus.org.


Jazzschool for Music Study and Performance


A Bay Area music program that hones in on a specific musical style is the Jazzschool for Music Study and Performance in Berkeley. It offers two summer camps for youth who are fairly new to the genre, as well as an intensive camp for gifted young jazz players.


The Summer Youth Program for students in grades 7 to 10 takes place June 20 to July 1, and is $400 per week or $760 for two weeks. Each student plays in jazz and Latin big bands every day, jams with the group and learns new rehearsal techniques and musical styles from around the world. Students also receive private lessons and attend in-house concerts by an array of outstanding Bay Area musicians.


The Girls’ Jazz and Blues Camp offers many of the same features, but is designed to provide a “supportive environment for girls to play on their own,” says Rob Ewing, the Jazzschool’s community music school director. The camp takes place Aug. 8 to 12 and costs $450.


The High School Jazz Intensive camp is open to up to eight advanced high school musicians, who are selected to work with top jazz artists. Together, they participate in rehearsals, master classes, private lessons and a final faculty-student concert. Scheduled for July 25 to 29, the camp is $725.


“The program is unique in that the ensemble of students is placed with a group of faculty instructors,” Ewing says. “This is a very unusual format for a program of this kind, where usually a student group just meets with one instructor at a time. In effect, a student ‘band’ spends the day in rehearsal with a band of professional musicians.”


Find more details at the jazzschool.com.




If your child is an advanced classical instrumentalist, you may want to plan long term, so he or she can participate in an intense chamber music experience next summer. Music@Menlo in Atherton offers the three-week Young Performers Program for advanced pianists, violinists, violists and cellists from ages 9 to 18, as part of its musical festival. Now in its ninth year, this prestigious day program held at the Menlo School campus costs $2,800 this year, but financial aid and scholarships are available. Applicants, who typically come from all around the U.S. and abroad, must apply and audition.


The participants are taught “how to lead and how to support,” says Wu Han, Music@Menlo co-founder. “For this art form, you cannot survive if you are not a good team player.” She adds that the program also teaches human and life skills, such as courtesy and the ability to accept constructive criticism.


Yujin Ariza, 16, has participated in the Young Performers Program as a violinist for the last four years. His sister, Elena, 12, joined last year for the first time as a cellist.


 “It’s an environment wherein you can easily interact with artists from around the world and even have lunch with them,” says Yujin. “They are down-to-earth and approachable.”


Elena agrees, saying, “Everyone was really friendly. I felt like I really fit in the environment.”


Yujin and Elena’s mother, Nagisa Ariza, herself a musician, was very pleased with her children’s experience. “Music training is very lonely,” she says, “but chamber music is very fun.”


This year’s program is scheduled for July 22-Aug. 13. The application deadline was on Jan. 15, and auditions take place in January and February, so plan ahead if you wish to participate in the 2012 program. Details on next year’s program will be available this fall.


For more information, visit musicatmenlo.org/institute/young-performers-program.


Romina Saha is a freelance writer and the mother of a teen-aged musician.




Other Music Camps


All over the Bay Area, there is an abundance of summer camp choices for a musically-minded child. Here are a few of the many interesting offerings:


Bandworks - Various rock band-related courses, ages 8-teens, June 13-Aug. 26, $265-$300 per week. Los Altos, Oakland, Orinda, San Carlos, San Jose, San Rafael, San Ramon. bandworks.com/camp.php.


Bay Area Girls Rock Camp - For ages 8-18, girls only, July 11-Aug. 13, $0-400 per week (financial aid available). Held in Oakland. bayareagirlsrockcamp.org/pages/programs.html.


Berkeley School of Strings and String Improvisation - “Music and Art Camp,” ages 4-12, June 20-Aug. 26, $235 per week; “Creative Strings Summer Camp,” ages 6-12, July 25-29, $395; “Teen Recording Workshop,” teens, dates to be announced, $215. Held in Berkeley. stringimprovisation.org/13501.html.


San Francisco Conservatory of Music - “Summer Music West,” with a focus on chamber music, composition, Gilbert and Sullivan scenes and musicianship, ages 9-18, June 20-Aug. 5. $50 application fee. Tuition varies by session. San Francisco. sfcm.edu/summer.


Valley of the Moon Scottish Fiddling School - Residential camp, all ages, Aug. 26-Sept. 3, free (children under 3) to $900, scholarship available. Camp Campbell in the Santa Cruz mountains. valleyofthemoon.org/index.html.

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