Great Summer Music Programs for High School Students

If Music Is Your Thing, Check Out These Summer Programs

Summer is a great time to develop your musical skills. An intensive summer music program can improve your ability, impressive college admissions officers, and, in some cases, earn you college credit. Below are some excellent summer music programs for high school students.

Penn State Summer Music Camp

Penn State University Old Main
Penn State University Old Main. acidcookie / Flickr

Penn State offers a week-long residential camp for high school students interested in band, orchestra, choir, jazz or piano. Students participate in master classes and daily sectional and ensemble rehearsals as well as academic classes in subjects such as cartoon music, jazz improvisation, music history mysteries, musical ​theater, music theory and the psychology of music. The program culminates in a final performance at several public concert venues on the Penn State campus. The camp is located at Penn State’s University Park campus in State College, Pennsylvania. 

NYU Steinhardt Summer Programs

Wikimedia Commons

New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development offers summer program intensives for high school students in classical voice and piano. The vocal performance program is a three-week workshop for high school students over the age of 16 to explore the preparation, interpretation, presentation and techniques of classical singing. It includes group and individual instruction on diction and repertoire, vocal technique and stage movement. The two-week piano intensive prepares high school students (must be at least 15) for entering conservatory study and careers in performance through one-on-one instruction with artist faculty and master classes with guest artists, as well as special topics workshops and cultural outings in the city. Both programs offer residential options. 

Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp

Twin Lake, Michigan
Twin Lake, Michigan. Wendy Piersall / Flickr

The Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Twin Lake, Michigan offers several sessions for high school students to advance their education in a specific area of music. Blue Lake campers select to focus on one major, which include band, choir, harp, jazz, music composition, orchestra and piano. Students are grouped according to their proficiency and spend several hours a day in sectional and ensemble rehearsals and technique classes. Campers can also select a minor to study, which include a variety of traditional camp activities such as crafts, hiking and team sports as well as several narrower fine arts fields such as music theory, acting and intro to opera. Each camp session runs for ten days. 

Illinois Chamber Music Festival and Camp at Illinois Wesleyan University

Illinois Wesleyan University
Illinois Wesleyan University. soundfromwayout / Flickr

This chamber music summer program and festival offered at Illinois Wesleyan University offers high school students an opportunity for three weeks of intensive training in strings, piano, winds and harp. Students participate in daily coaching, rehearsals, master classes, and student and faculty performances as well as outside electives and activities such as conversational language, singing, dance, tennis and swimming. A residential option is offered for out-of-town students to participate in the festival. 

Interlochen Summer Music Programs

Interlochen Kresge Auditorium
Interlochen Kresge Auditorium. grggrssmr / Flickr

The Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan offers a variety of residential summer camps for high school musicians, including multi-week programs and one-week instrumental institutes. Students may choose to attend programs ranging from two to six weeks in orchestral and wind ensembles, voice, piano, organ, harp, classical guitar, composition, jazz, audio recording, singer-songwriter and rock, as well as more focused one-week institutes for bassoon, advanced bassoon, cello, flute, horn, oboe, percussion, trombone and trumpet. All of Interlochen’s summer music programs include several hours of daily rehearsals, lessons, private coaching, lecture classes and performance opportunities. 

Boston University Tanglewood Institute

Boston University Castle
Boston University Castle. Photo Credit: Katie Doyle

Internationally recognized as one of the top summer training programs for aspiring young musicians, the Boston University Tanglewood Institute allows high school students the opportunity to train with some of the top professionals in the industry alongside the prestigious Boston Symphony Orchestra. The institute offers intensive programs in orchestra, vocals, wind ensemble, piano, composition and harp as well as two-week workshops for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, saxophone, French horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, percussion, string quartet and double bass. Each program varies in length and content, including master classes, workshops and public performances with faculty, guest artists and members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. BUTI provides dormitory-style housing at Boston University’s West Campus. 

Intermuse International Music Institute and Festival USA

Mount St. Mary's University
Mount St. Mary's University. Guoguo12 / Wikimedia Commons

The Intermuse International Music Institute and Festival (IIMIF) is a ten-day residential summer program for young chamber musicians hosted at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, MD. Students rehearse daily with internationally-acclaimed faculty coaches as well as attending private lessons and studio masterclasses, with solo and ensemble performance opportunities throughout the session. The IIMIF also encourages an interdisciplinary approach to the arts, offering additional workshops on a range of topics including performance psychology, dance, careers in music and stage presence. Several students are also selected to participate in a five-day concert tour following the Institute.

California Summer Music at Sonoma State University

Sonoma State University
Sonoma State University. David Horowitz / Flickr

California Summer Music offers three-week residential programs in both performance (for piano and strings) and composition. Both programs include several hours a day of independent work and private lessons in addition to classes on developing and scoring works for composition students and ensemble rehearsals for performance students. Recreational opportunities include faculty and guest artist concerts, swimming, soccer, crafts, and various local excursions. California Summer Music culminates in three solo concerts and a weekend-long music festival during which performance program ensembles premiere the new works created by the students in the composition program. The camp takes place on the Sonoma State University campus in Rohnert Park, CA, 50 miles north of San Francisco.

Midwest Young Artists’ Chicago Chamber Music Workshop

Young Hall at Lake Forest College
Young Hall at Lake Forest College. Royalhawai / Wikimedia Commons

The Chicago Chamber Music Workshop is a three-week comprehensive music camp for rising 7th-12th graders presented by Midwest Young Artists, an acclaimed pre-college music institute and past winner of Chamber Music America’s Heidi Castleman Award for Excellence in Chamber Music Teaching. Students are grouped by age and ability into chamber music ensembles for daily rehearsals and several ensemble concerts and are also able to participate in private lessons, master classes, and electives including music theory, sonata, and music history. The program is open to both nonresidential and residential students with housing at the nearby Lake Forest College, just a brief shuttle ride away from the workshop facilities at Fort Sheridan.