What I Looked for in a Summer Program
Summers for performing artists aren’t quite normal. For musicians, at least, they are a chance to continue honing our craft and explore musical possibilities not as readily available to us during the school year. In high school, I was fortunate enough to be a member of the National Youth Orchestra of the USA for two consecutive summers. Now, as a college student, there are so many more summer program options, from masterclasses and week-long intensives to festivals lasting the entire break. Depending on your focus--chamber, orchestral, etc.--there are countless programs designed to help you improve and to make connections with other young musicians.
The amount of summer program opportunities can be overwhelming, especially when each program has its own prestigious reputation. When picking which summer program to attend, I consider these three things:
Does this program offer enough performance opportunities for your intended focus? Performing is one of the best ways to gain experience, and summer programs often offer low-pressure opportunities to play for and receive feedback from peers as well.
Summer programs are often located near larger cities or in scenic small towns. While location obviously shouldn’t be the biggest factor in choosing a program, if you have an interest in visiting or living in a particular area, attending a summer program there is a great way to get a feel for it.
The community of a summer program should be encouraging, supportive, and positive. Whether you’re spending a day or two months at the program, it’s best to be surrounded by others who are as enthusiastic as you are.