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How to Choose a College Music Program

How to Choose a College Music Program

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Is camp for you?

If you’ve never attended a summer music camp or program, it’s hard to know if the experience will be right for you. You might be asking: “Am I good enough?” “Will I fit in?” Or: “Will my parents let me attend an overnight program?” There really is a music program for everyone, whether you take lessons, play with a band or try a college music program experience. But don’t take our word for it! We spoke with one of the local experts on the subject. Dana Acker, Director of Summer Programs at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, told us what to expect:

Why study music this summer?

“In addition to being fun, summer programs can be a life-changing experience for students. Summer programs are a way for them to find out how they compare to their peers and helps them answer the question, ‘Do I study music at the college level?’ It’s probably the best way to find out if you want to pursue music full-time.”

Many of programs have a residential option – what do you say to parents who are apprehensive?

Acker explained that an overnight experience at a program like Berklee offers teenagers a look at what it’s like to attend a college music program. However, he understands their apprehension: “We understand that parents are placing their trust in us. There are strict housing rules and supervision, but there is a level of maturity that is required of students who participate in a program like this.”  Overall, the benefits are great. “Parents need to realize that there are many aspects to the music business.  These programs can open your eyes to the idea that the music industry is a lot more than playing music. There are thousands of career opportunities.” (Of course, if your parents are still unsure, attending a day program is also a possibility!)

The List – Where to Rock This Summer:

The list that follows includes programs for teenagers looking to play instruments and/or sing in a band – other unique opportunities are also included. We found camps from Connecticut to Vermont – many featuring both day and overnight programs –  many with scholarships and/or discounts available. Please let us know if a camp you love is not listed! Contact us: here. Have a great summer!

The Berklee College of Music – July 6 – Aug. 2 – Boston, MA – The Berklee College of Music flagship program is the Five-Week Summer Performance Program running July 6-August 9. The program offers music theory, private lessons, gospel, rock and jazz ensembles, and more. Cost $4,700 + housing and fees.  They’ve added Berklee Day Sessions, a new day program for younger teenagers aged 12-14 running July 8- August 2.  Cost: $50 registration fee; $945 per week. Many other workshops are also available. (Some programs accept a limited number of students.) Contact:  617-747-2245 or; email (Scholarship deadline: June 1 for Guitar Sessions Program.)


Boston GuitarFest at New England Conservatory: Summer Session – June 20-24 – Boston, MA- Boston GuitarFest is primarily for classical guitar, but the festival also aims to set the instrument within a broader musical, cultural and social context. Provides private lessons, masterclasses, ensembles. Cost: $195-$525. Registration. (Register by May 15 for early bird savings.)

Building the Band: Let’s Jam – at Beaver Summer Programs - July 22 – Aug. 12 – Chestnut Hill, MA – For 7th and 8th grade students. In partnership with Jammin’ With You, Beaver Summer Programs is offering a summer camp for aspiring rock stars. One-week sessions bring campers together to sing and jam, write songs, and develop their image for a Friday performance for family and friends. All instruments and abilities. Cost $690 per week – sibling discounts available. Registration.

Camp Groove – at School of Groove – June 24-Aug. 10 – Cambridge, MA, Newton, MA and Star Island, NH – Six day sessions. Learn what it takes to be a rock musician AND attend Live performances by Taylor Swift, Jay Z and Justin Timberlake + more! Students at all skill levels learn from experienced rock musicians, record original music, and work together in a band. Cost: $525 – $1,000 per week depending on session; discount for multiple weeks. Register by June 1 for $50 discount. Contact: 617-868-1118.

Camp Jam  – July 21 – Aug. 2 – The Fay School, Southborough, MA – Two sessions, overnight and day programs available. Camp Jam is in 17 cities across the US and Canada. Staffed by music professionals, their mission is to teach young musicians how to become an effective band member. Also open to vocalists and digital music artists. Cost Day: $595 per week; Overnight: $1495 per week.  Special savings of $150 if registered by May 1. (Scholarship deadline is past – apply before 4/15/14.) Registration.

Plugged In Summer Session – July 1 – Aug. 2 – Needham, MA – Known as the teen band program “creating a positive change through music,” Plugged In summersummer session includes all of the popular parts of their spring and fall sessions including band class, songwriting workshops, clinics, and performance opportunities – all in five weeks! Performance opportunities include: Needham 4th of July Parade, Community Engage Evening, Music Theory Clinic, Open Mic Night, Benefit Concert.  Cost $750.00. This non-profit offers an early bird registration discount available before May 15; save $100 with refer a friend discount; and scholarships available. (PLUGGED IN IS A PAVOH PARTNER.)

RealJams Academy – at The RealSchool of Music – July 8-Aug. 16 – Burlington and Andover, MA – Play in a band, learn digital recording or musical theatre. RealJams is for all skill levels, featuring an end of week concert on the Real Room stage. Cost $600 – $1,050 depending on program. Discounts available for members, siblings or multiple sessions: contact 1-888-881-REAL ext. 444.

Rock & Roll Workshop – at The Community School of the Arts – June 24-28 – The University of Connecticut – Storrs, CT – Each summer, in addition to continued private music study, hundreds of students participate in CSA Summer School of the Arts workshops, group classes and summer events. Their rock program: Rock & Roll Workshop – June 24-28, is open to guitarists, bassists, drummers, keyboardists, and singers. RockShop will teach students how to work together as a band. Cost $475.  Registration.

School of Rock – Summer Camps – June 24-Aug. 16 – Watertown, MA – Known for its mantra: “the best way to learn music is to play music,” School of Rock inspires kids to rock on stage and in life. The camps include private music lessons and group band rehearsals to prepare students to take the stage in front of a live audience. Also featuring: Beatles Camp – July 8 -12; Green Day Camp – July 29 – Aug. 2. Cost $500 per session. Registration: 617-923-3434.

Summer Rock Camp 2013 – at South Shore Conservatory Summer Programs – June 24-28 – Duxbury, MA Campus.  At Summer Rock Camp 2013, students are grouped according to ability, music preferences and instrument. Program covers everything from scales and rhythm to improvisation. Cost $225 (Financial Aid available: contact  Registration.

TCAN RockWorks Band Workshops – July 7-22 – Two sessions: 5-7 pm or 7-9pm – The Center for Arts, Natick, MA – With instruction provided by Music Go Round in Natick, RockWorks matches you with like-minded musicians where you’ll: create riffs and chord progressions; transform simple musical ideas into complete compositions; understand and manage the creative process; perform as part of a band at the July or August Rock Off Main St. event. Cost: $10 registration fee; $380 per session. Registration or  781-697-7156.

Vermont Rock Music Camp – Two day-only sessions: July 15-19 and Aug. 5-9 – Memorial Auditorium, Burlington, VT. The program’s mission is to offer a structured music program for students interested in contemporary styles of music. There are instrument-specific prerequisites. Cost $325 per session. (Scholarships for local students are available.) Registration.

ZUMIX – 260 Sumner Street, East Boston – July 1-August 23 –  ZUMIX offers an extensive summer music program: write music, play musical instruments, sing, rap – even learn music production or engineering! Zumix also has a youth-run radio station. Deadline to apply is June 7. New students must sign up for an individual program placement interview to be conducted in the middle of June. Cost: Free for most programs but available on a first-come, first-served basis. Register with Jenny Shulman, program director: 617-568-9777 x108 or or


This article was written by Laura Lamere. You can reach her at

Laura Lamere is Founder of Pavoh, Inc. – a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization advancing music education. The Pavoh mission is to make music a catalyst for social change. The website, provides information and a supportive community for young musicians in both urban and suburban New England – connecting the dots (the name Pavoh is based on a constellation) and breaking down barriers between musicians and the opportunities that await them.

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