Summer MUSIC Camps for Ages 13 and Under: Yes You Can!

Monday, January 22, 2024 | Practicing and General Education

About this post...

In the short article which follows, I describe what led me to seek sleep-away music camps for students age 13 and under. Following that, I have listed and linked five recommended summer camps. This list was developed from my own research and from personal recommendations. This article is not ad-supported and there is no sponsored content.

Each year in January...

I have recommended sleep-away summer camps and festivals to some of our advancing teens. Only very rarely has anyone taken my advice and actually attended a program. It’s OK, I don’t take it personally! Plus, there are good reasons why students and parents haven’t often chosen to pursue this opportunity: the tuition expense; the need to travel away from home; schedule conflicts; competing interests. And I never push very hard—I mention and recommend the possibility, but I rarely follow up with persistence.

This led me to this thought: If our older and advancing students may have pre-formed ideas and competing interests and obligations which keep them from considering summer music programs, maybe there are some younger students out there who might be interested!?

I undertook a search for quality programs suitable to our many capable (but not necessarily elite) younger students (age 13 and under). I looked for camps that were non-competitive or minimally competitive in both entrance process and camp environment…but that were also real music camps—which to me means that the programs offer individual music lessons from qualified adult teachers and supervised practice on quality instruments. After a pretty thorough search, I was surprised to find only a handful of such programs that are open to younger piano students. (I only looked for camps in the eastern U.S.)

These sleep-away camps aren’t just for future professional musicians and they’re not just for advancing students. They are suitable for any kid who loves music and is interested in an immersive experience. They also offer all of the traditional summer camp essentials like outdoor recreation and evening programs. 

Recommended music camps accessible to students age 13 and under

SONATA/SONATINA (sonatina.com) Bennington, Vermont.

Unusual piano-focused in-town program. Four one-week sessions which may be combined.

ENCORE/CODA (encore-coda.com) Sweden, Maine

Traditional summer music camp in a lake-side setting. Most instruments and voice including musical theater. Two three-week sessions which may be combined plus a shorter two-week option for ages 8 to 10.

NEW ENGLAND MUSIC CAMP (snowpond.org/nemc) Sidney, Maine

Traditional summer music camp in a lake-side setting. Most instruments and voice. One four-week session. Also offers an "intensive" two-week session for high-school aged students.  

INTERLOCHEN CENTER FOR THE ARTS (interlochen.org) Interlochen, Michigan

Traditional summer music camp in a lake-side setting. Two-week sessions plus other programs for advanced/elite students and many other disciplines.

POINT COUNTERPOINT (pointcp.com) Leicester, Vermont

Chamber-music focused program for strings and piano. A more focused and slightly more intense program than the others on this list. Traditional music camp experience in a rural setting with lake access. One one-week session in August for ages 12 and under plus multiple sessions for advancing older students in June and July.

WALDEN SCHOOL (waldenschool.org) Dublin, New Hampshire

One five-week session plus a shorter three-week option for ages 13 and under. Creativity and composition-focused program.

To parents and camp directors

If you know of good programs in the United States, let me know about them! I’ll look into any recommended programs and consider adding them to the list.

For older students age 13+

This post focuses on programs that are suitable for younger students age 8 to 12. If you are age 13+, all of these programs are worthy of consideration, but you also have many more options! There are even camps for adult amateur pianists!

Day camps

The biggest competition the above programs have isn't from one another. It's from local day camps, and the many other activities that compete for our attention each summer. The experience you can get in a residential (sleep-away) setting is unmistakably different from what you can get in a day camp. But if you can't consider living away from home for one reason or another, you might consider a local music day camp instead. 

Develop your identity as a musician

Independent music study is, in some ways, a countercultural endeavor! Practicing alone and attending individual music lessons can make it feel like you have no team, and that your accomplishments don't matter. A good music camp may offer you the opportunity not only to develop your skill at the piano, but to become part of a community of like-minded students

Summer in our little studio

We sometimes dream of running our own piano day camp at the Studio…but not this year! But we’ll be open and here for you all summer, every summer, with easy flexible scheduling and no minimum requirements or monthly tuition. We post general details to the Summer Programs page of our website each year in early spring with full details and all schedules posted by May 1.