Summer in Chicago: Fun for All at Merit’s Summer Music Camps

Summer music camp students laugh while sitting in front of music stands

What happens when summer fun meets music education? Summer music camps at Merit School of Music, of course! Student musicians find that summer is a great time to explore new musical interests, sharpen their skills, and make new friends, all while having a whole lot of fun together playing music.

Merit’s Joy Faith Knapp Music Center in Chicago’s West Loop was home to a wide variety of day camp experiences for just about every taste this summer, with plenty of offerings for the advanced musician, to beginning and intermediate students, to those just wanting to try something new. Summer music camps give a chance for young musicians to dive deep into musical exploration at a time when they’re not competing with the weight of school and homework, and there is a vibrant and relaxed energy through the building’s halls.

Beyond working on their instrument of focus, Band, Orchestra, and Choir Camp students participate in electives where they have a chance to try out new instruments and musical experiences. It’s during these electives especially where the “fun factor” of camp truly shines and turns into musical expression—like a student debate about whether tacos or muffins are a tastier treat which was turned into the theme of an original musical theater performance!

Summer camp students perform together onstage during a silly performance

Music camps also lend themselves easily to providing masterclasses, guest artists, workshops, and panel discussions for students. Advanced piano campers worked on Chopin and Beethoven and had the pleasure of participating in a masterclass led by Lincoln Trio’s pianist Marta Aznavoorian. During French Horn Camp, students had a riveting masterclass with Associate Principal Horn of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Dan Gingrich, they were part of a “Building Your Own Career” workshop with countertenor Carl Alexander, who coached them on how to bring the lessons of their musical education into their career decisions, and then, they participated in a mental wellness and mindfulness workshop for musicians. For beginner and intermediate-level orchestra and band students, camp provided the opportunity to play in a large ensemble for the very first time. This opportunity can be especially helpful when considering band and orchestra for the school year.

A choir teacher leads choir camp students in a song

Merit’s week-long flute camp was intentionally timed to coincide with the National Flute Association (NFA) 50th Anniversary Convention, held this month in Chicago. This convention brings in the top flutists from around the country into one spot annually, giving flute students the privilege of sitting in on some spectacular rehearsals with flute soloists. A true highlight was a rehearsal of the Chicago Philharmonic led by Maestro Leonard Slatkin, held at Merit where students were among the first to hear the world premiere and NFA commission of Jennifer Higdon’s, The Light That We Can Hear and see it performed by one of the world’s top flute players, Valerie Coleman. In that same rehearsal, students also heard another commission by the NFA, Piccolo Play by Thea Musgrave, performed by master piccolo player, Jennifer Gunn. This superb rehearsal was in preparation for the biggest flute concert of the year and the only event of its kind in the world and our Flute Camp students were fortunate to be a part of that excitement!

“My kids always have a good time at Merit, and I’m so glad that they got saturated in Merit for two full weeks this summer. It really had such a wonderful effect on both of them. They’re already planning which electives they want to take next year and are considering what instruments they’d like to try next!” shares Merit parent, Mary P.

We can’t wait until Merit Camps 2023!

Play Your Heart Out This Summer

Make music and memories with Merit’s line-up of camps and classes

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