Summer music camps enable musicians to hone their skills, learn new techniques and explore new styles. A look at five summer programs in Alberta.
Many music students in Canada take the summer off from music lessons. The challenge as a music instructor is to give them just enough homework that 1 - they'll actually DO it and 2 - they think it's fun. One thing my students have heard from me time and time again is the importance of having several pieces "performance ready" at all times. You never know when a relative from Europe, Asia or the States is going to come visit. As soon as they see the piano in the house, they will undoubtedly ask for a performance. That's Assignment #1. My students and I explored this year is Pattern Play, developed by Forrest & Akiko Kinney. They have five books published, full of short patterns guaranteed to sound good. My students have learned 10 patterns from the first book. Jamming on their favorite patterns is Assignment #2. Assignment 2A is to maintain their technical exercises so that they don't start from scratch in September. My students in RCM and Conservatory Canada know that the further ahead they get with their technique for the upcoming year, the easier the school year will be. Assignment #3 - repertoire. Everyone has at least two songs they they will work on independently. Some will do well at completing their tasks. Not to worry, they have at least one "fun" piece that they've selected (or we negotiated), e.g. Super Mario, Zelda, Kingdom Hearts. They're excited to learn their fave games tunes, I get to chuckle because they've picked pieces that are more rhythmically and technically challenging than some of the pieces they tackled this year. Assignment #4 is a music mastery project. My students have selected one song from this current year that they will rest for most of the summer. They will re-learn it from scratch at the end of the summer. I hope that the break will give them a fresh perspective on the piece and help take the work to the next level. Assignment #5 is a fun ear training project - to pick out their favorite songs by ear. Intermediate and advanced students can also try to pick out the chords to the song. Assignment #6 is a listening project. I've given some students (the ones most inclined to do it) a list of composers and performers to check out on Youtube, everything from Bach to Dave Brubeck. They are to submit a report on each piece or performer they listen to. Naturally, they will earn their coveted Maestro Bucks for each report (to spend on prizes). One student plans to hang his listening list up in his room. He asked me to make the list in a large font so that it's the first thing he sees in the morning. Assignment #7 is probably one of the most fun projects. Some of my students are anime or manga otaku. I've tasked them with watching Nodame Cantabile and submitting reports on the music. This romance-comedy revolves around a girl who has a superb ear and a guy who is a musical technician. Each piece highlights at least one work (e.g. Brahms' Symphony no. 1). Yes, they will also earn Maestro Bucks for each report they submit. We've done audio/visual recordings of some of the trickier elements they will work on over the summer break. They also know that all they need to do is ask and I can quickly do up a "video demo" if they are stuck on something - within reason. Hopefully, some of these summer practice ideas appeal to students and teachers alike. For more summer music practice ideas, check out my Suite101.com article, "Fun Ways for Music Students to Stay in Shape in the Summer".
Hooray! It's the last week of lessons. My students and I are looking forward to some time off. This week, they've all heard me stress the importance of doing some music practice during the summer so they don't waste the time, effort and money that they, their parents and I as their teacher have invested throughout the year.
The following are some of the "fun music" suggestions I have given them to make their "Summer Learning Projects" as enjoyable as possible:
- Star Wars: A Musical Journey Episodes I-VI (Available in 5 Finger Melodies, Easy Piano and Advanced. Also available for other instruments.)
- New Moon - The Twilight Saga (Piano Solo) also available in Easy Piano
- Harry Potter Magical Music
- Glee (P/V/G and Easy Piano)
- Disney Fake Book
I also compiled a listing of websites in a recent article Where to Find Free Piano Music Online (new link to come). An honourable mention goes out to Piano Squall's website with loads of video game and anime theme songs. I wanted to put his site on the list but there are constraints on article length.
(c) 2010 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada.
It's so hard to think about practicing in the summer. Even teachers go through this "I don't want to practice, I want to play!" phase. But there are ways to keep music practice in the summer quite fun. Composing and improvising are a couple of ways. Summer Music Camp is another.
Here is a handy article, citing the benefits of Summer Music Camp.
For a sampling of summer music camps in North America, click here.
In the Calgary Area, visit the Calgary Arts Summer School Association.
(c) 2007 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.
These are some exciting arts-related summer programs for kids in the Calgary area:
- TADA! Summer Musical Theatre Program - presented by Youth Singers of Calgary
- Decidedly Jazz Danceworks Summer Camps
- RCM Virtual Music - New computer-based music education program allows students who enjoy computers to express themselves musically and gain real musical knowledge and insight brought to you by the Royal Conservatory of Music and TELUS.
- Pumphouse Theatre's Summer Drama Day Camp
- QuickKids Summer Animation Camp
- Mount Royal Conservatory Summer Programs
- Leighton Art Centre - Summer Art and Nature Camp
- Alberta Ballet's Junior & Senior Summer School programs
- Calgary Arts Summer School
(c) 2007 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.
Parents, if you're looking for a summer activity for the young artist in your life, check out some of these summer music programs throughout Alberta:
- Calgary Arts Summer School Association: Now in its thirteenth year, CASSA is enjoying steady growth and a long list of happy campers. The Piano Camp is fully booked but there are still spaces available in the Musical Theatre Showtime; Music, Drama, Movement & Art; Music Theory Workshop and Piano Pedagogy Workshop.
- Mount Royal College - The Conservatory: The Conservatory is offering: a Drumset Educational Program, Head Start Band Program, Intermediate Band Program, Kodaly Musicianship, Morningside Music Bridge, Music with Your Baby, Organ Academy International Summer School, Summer Jazz Workshop and Summer String Academy.
- University of Lethbridge: Summer programs offered in Kindermusik, Drama, Art and more!
- Red Deer College: RDC offers MusiCamp Alberta, for students age 10 and up. Students can experience fiddling, piano, choir, band, Adult Concert Band and musical theatre.
- Macewan College: offers summer workshops in music, art and new media.
If you hear of any arts related summer programs that you think should be added to the list, please let me know.
(c) 2006 by Musespeak(tm), Calgary, AB, Canada. All rights reserved.