By: Camp Electric
  • May 21, 2019

As summer rolls around, you may be thinking over what you or your family can do with the warm months. For musicians (and their parents), finding the right kind of music program can be stressful. Do you just sign up for something in your area or should you aim for something more prestigious and acclaimed? You also have to consider the differences between summer music programs and camps. We want to help you navigate a summer full of fun and educational choices. That’s why we’re going to show you some key takeaways from both summer music programs and camps. Let’s start with the purpose of these opportunities.

The Purpose of Summer Music Programs and Camps

When looking for the best choice in music education this summer, the first thing needed to be asked is “What do you want out of this?” Since we’re talking about summer music programs and camps, that question boils down to a dichotomy between kids who enjoy music as a hobby and those who want to find a career.

The purpose of summer music programs is to give students an intensive look at higher education in music and to see if they have what it takes. You’ll often find these programs to be more academic and rigid. Many may even have a competitive audition process to complete for admittance. That’s not to say there aren’t a number of summer music programs where kids have a lot of fun in between their studies. While some programs are fairly strict, you can easily find a few which value a good time.

You can easily contrast this academic viewpoint with the more laid back approach of most summer music camps. These centers of learning are more about exploration of music and community, with classroom time often being disrupted by fun games and other activities you’d come to expect from the camp experience. Just as we wouldn’t rule out the fun with summer music programs, these camps also pack a lot of wisdom into the itinerary.

Cost Comparisons Between Summer Programs

From Amazon to Expedia to eBay, everywhere we go online is trying to get us the best deal on what we want. If you’re shopping for summer music programs and camp, cost can be extremely important as well. Assuming this isn’t the first summer your family has sent someone off to camp, you know just how expensive these opportunities can be. We want to reassure you that there are more than enough options out there which are fairly priced. Of course, you can always aim for the more prestigious and all-inclusive types of summer programs if you so choose.

Summer music programs often carry a higher price than camps, though it does depend on the camp. The former often takes place at a college, university, or conservatory where resources are limited and the instructors outstanding. It makes sense that this kind of setup would be more expensive than camps which take place in a church or retreat center. For an idea of what that price tag looks like, we turn to the Berklee College of Music. One of the more touted programs in the northeast, this school has trained hundreds (if not thousands) of gifted musicians over the years. The school’s five-week Music Performance Intensive program is an exceptional opportunity for musicians who want a headstart in higher education. The cost? Just under $10,000 for tuition and housing. This isn’t the most expensive option in summer music programs nationally, but it’s not the cheapest either. Many weeklong experiences at Berklee and other institutions range from $1500 to $5000.

Music camps, however, are usually much more affordable. Prices for summer music camps are somewhat dependent on who is putting on the camp and what their aim is. A local Baptist church may hold a weeklong day camp for guitarists that costs $250, but a famous regional summer camp could charge over $2000. Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp is an example of a private music camp which cuts right down the middle between prestige and fun for a unique summer experience. Teaching students of jazz, orchestra, and more, this popular destination for music students offers a two-week camp for around $1500. That’s about the price you’ll be paying at most summer camps focusing on brass instruments or more orchestral work.

If your child is more into rock bands than Beethoven, $1500 would likely be near the high end of the spectrum. Camp Electric is for middle and high school students who want to study Christian music under popular artists from that genre. Costs for this camp hover around the $700 mark, depending on when you sign up.

Who Teaches at Summer Music Programs and Camps

Something that will definitely play into the prices for summer music programs and camps is who will be the instructors. You can imagine a program featuring the greatest cellists in the world probably costs more than a camp where the instructor wouldn’t cut it in her own local symphony. When looking at the instructors for most of the higher-end summer programs, you’ll see some pretty amazing teachers who can do well with students looking to make it to the next level. Since many of these programs take place on a college campus, students will often be exposed to the school’s actual faculty. This makes for a great test run in the university atmosphere.

Instructors at summer camps can be a little harder to gauge as there is a wide range of talent. Camp Electric and Blue Lake are two institutions which value great teachers, but you should ask about the makeup of instructors at any summer camp you’re thinking about sending students to. The issue of the level of instruction at summer camps goes back to the question of how serious of a program you are interested in pursuing.

Benefits of Both Options

There can be no doubt that summer music programs help college-bound music students the chance to see what the next step in education looks like. It can also teach them how they compare to other talented musicians their age, where they need to improve, and how to do so. Many of these same lessons can be learned in the less stringent environment of summer camps. If a student desires a fun time where there just so happens to be some music being taught, maybe you should think about camps over programs.

At the end of the day, just about all summer music programs and camps beat sitting around wasting away the summer. These programs help kids stay busy in the summer, provide a fun itinerary of education, and keep musicians from allowing rust to develop on their skills during the year’s less disciplined months. It is for the students and their parents to decide what is the best value for their time and money.

We hope this comparison between summer music programs and camps has helped you to understand where differences may lie and similarities run parallel. If you’re looking for worthwhile summer activities for yourself or your kids, we strongly encourage the study of music somewhere that feels right.

Camp Electric is a place for young people to come and learn from the top Christian musicians from a variety of bands working today. We have amazing classroom sessions, fun concerts, and so much more. Find out how to register today by clicking on the link below.

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