Summer music camp(MM) for rising senior, bad idea?

Hello, my S is a rising senior and will be majoring classical music performance. He got into Meadow mount summer program but he is very anxious about their strict electronic device usage policies and practice time requirement. He is worrying that he will be overwhelmed and have not enough time if he start his college application/essays after come back from the camp which is middle of August. This is his first time going to any kind of music camp and he had never diagnosed but had some anxiety issues in the past. Please share your experiences so I can guide my S in the right way. thank you!

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@kookie5, congratulations to your son on acceptance to Meadowmount!

My D23 daughter will be participating in the summerlong music program too and is happy to take a break after her somewhat intense (academically) Junior year. She is looking forward to just being immersed in making music and meeting likeminded musicians! She will have her “reading for pleasure” books and will start working on her essays and writing prompts for her admissions applications. From her previous summer music festival experience - they spent a lot of time rehearsing, practicing, socializing and attending performances. If you kid loves music - he will be enjoying it a lot! I think it is a good way to test the music-focused lifestyle too, because that is a “preview” of majoring in music in college. Better spend a summer and decide if it is a life he wants and would enjoy.

Hope it helps!

There is a separate thread:

I would ask others there for their feedback for this particular program, I am not very familiar with Meadowmount, since my D23 is a flute player. Good luck!

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My S24 has a lot of the same concerns and wound up applying to multiple shorter programs for this summer. I am sure that there will be many other kids in the same situation as your S in terms of preparing for college applications and I would just ask their administrators what the policy is. I have found that they are very knowledgeable and generally flexible about kids getting things done. I also dont know anything about Meadowmount specifically.

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Don’t worry about the applications and essays for now. The anxiety may be an issue but better to try a summer program and get stronger- and see how he does as a sort of rehearsal for going to college or conservatory.

Does he want to study music?

Does he have a therapist or is he on medication?

Walden School is the only summer program I have personal experience with and they are very good with kids w/anxiety. Does Meadowmount have camp activities like hiking, or social events?

Editing to add that programs that foster a feeling of community are best for a situation like this, and they are an antidote to cliquish behavior :slight_smile: Walden has a group sing every night before they head off to bed, standing in a circle, as well as holiday events, hikes, dances and so on.

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My kid spent the summer between junior and senior year of HS at BUTI for 6 weeks. He was still able to complete all of his applications by mid October.

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While I am not familiar with Meadowmount, I have a few thoughts as a parent of a kid who attended Interlochen before junior year and Tanglewood before senior year. He is now finishimg his second year in a conservatory.
If your son would like to be a music major, this would be his chance to experience the rigor and hopefully the joy of total music immersion. In addition, I would assume that a large part of the program would be audition preparation and fully mastering his repertoire for pre-screening recordings which he would need to submit in the fall.
Regarding college applications and essays, he should have plenty of time and probably more to write about. And admission as a music performance major is heavily weighted on the audition. So I wouldn’t say that essays are not important. But a fabulous essay and an audition not up to the standard of the faculty/program does not tip the scale in his favor.
With respect to restrictions on phones/electronic devices, my son actually soon came to love the peace which allowed him to think about what was happening around him in real time. Also, it helped that he was not hearing from friends from home or even family which can make kids more homesick.
Regarding your son’s anxiety/stress, I would assume they have staff there to help guide him. Many young musicians suffer from anxiety and depression. But of all of your concerns, that would be the one that would be the one to keep an eye on. I know my son was hesitant to go away his first summer. Same concerns of the program is too long, what if I don’t like it, etc. Within a week he was a different kid and the summer was transformative for him. For the first time he knew what he wanted to do and found his peers. But as a parent you don’t know.
I wish you and your son the best!

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I am very familiar with MM. Multiple kids in my household and kids from friends attended over a multi-year period. This was 10 - 15 years ago - the “kids” are now professional musicians. Things can change - there are new directors and some new faculty at MM - but the basic premise of MM remains the same. This is a place for students who are serious about individual practice and improvement.

Your S can make great progress on audition materials and the goals his private teacher sends him off with - but he will, indeed, be subject to the practice requirements (monitored). The students I sent off to MM were already practicing 3 - 4 hours per day during their middle school and high school years so MM’s regimen was not a total shock. If your S is practicing significantly less than that now, discuss the concerns with his current teacher, especially as regards potential over-use injury. Not unusual for a MM student or two to go home with an over-use injury that needs rest. Jumping from an hour or so of daily playing to 4 - 6 hours of practice and playing can be too much. (MM does allow a break within each hour of practice - look into stretches for muscles and incorporate this into routines.)

If your S is looking at conservatories or very select music schools for college, the MM environment will definitely give a taste of the type of commitment that serious string players typically encounter.

Applications - heed Anotheroboemom’s good advice. Essays aren’t the same level of concern for music majors as for students seeking select school academic admits. Better to spend the summer well preparing the audition materials either at home or a place like MM. We faced the application question a few times. Back then, the essay questions weren’t even posted until MM was almost finished. No problem completing those essays later.

As far as environment and student interaction, situations varied from year to year. One kid (high schooler) had a truly life changing experience the first year - all positive musically and personal growth. Returned the next year and didn’t find the same social circle - nothing negative, but just not a group to hang with. Year off, returned again and once more had a terrific time.

Possible advantages - is your S studying with a teacher where he is also applying for college? The summer would be a good indication of teacher fit.

One of ours needed a 4th recommendation for a college app. Asked a MM chamber coach for one - fit the bill nicely. Chamber music (if assigned) was fun for the kids I knew - and they had all participated in well regarded chamber programs at their pre-college institutions. MM fit right in with their previous experiences.

There wasn’t good cell service when mine attended - no mention of feeling isolated ever. Everyone there is in the same boat - you talk with fellow students. In fact, one of our MMers later attended one of the major college fellowship programs and complained that all the students did when not practicing or in rehearsal was sit at Starbucks with their computers. Kid really missed the down-time, face-to-face interaction experienced at places like MM.

I can’t speak to clinical level anxiety although it would be quite natural to feel concern and “worry” over a new experience like MM. Others will feel the same. One of ours didn’t like the place first night - wanted to go home and classes hadn’t even started yet! (The rooms/dorms are definitely not luxury.) We suggested a trial of at least a week. Stayed for the entirety, laughed at the initial reaction later, and happily returned next year. I do know a couple students who left early - one was too young, one was dealing with the death of a parent. You can’t always predict how a student will adjust - just like college.

Final thought - What is best for achieving his goals? I am assuming the summer will be spent on preparing audition materials. Is MM a good fit or would it be better having multiple lessons per week with current teacher (I’m assuming he isn’t following a teacher to MM - many of the kids there do study with the MM teacher at home during the year.) I’m sure you’ve had discussions with his private teacher about goals and timelines as you head toward auditions - perhaps have another discussion raising the concerns you have asked here.

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Lots of good thoughts/advice above. D. attended seven weeks at Interlochen the summer before her senior year. Definitely great immersion into an atmosphere that is similar to what she experiences now in her music performance track at school. We both assumed she would have more time to work on prescreen pieces over the summer, but that was not necessarily the case. A lot of her lesson and practice time was spent preparing for master classes, concerts, chamber groups, etc. She felt stressed starting the process as a result, but was able to get caught up.

D. did NOT love the electronics policy at camp. :joy: As a 17-year-old rising senior she felt that many of the rules and restrictions were ridiculous and overly controlling. As a parent I thought they were fine. :wink::+1:t3: Her cabin counselor was pretty strict. No phones after 9 or 10 PM, early morning bugle calls/flag pole gatherings, etc. were not her favorite. The orchestra kids didn’t really have time to participate in ‘camp’ activities. Sometimes I think she just wanted that nighttime phone time as a chance to relax and unwind. Of course sleep was probably even more important!

She did have the option of taking an elective or two during the summer. One of the offerings was a College Application Boot Camp. She had no interest, but we strongly encouraged her to take it. She reluctantly agreed, and ended up loving it! (The fact that someone else was in charge and ‘nudging’ her was awesome :wink:) It was a huge help! She refined her list of schools, started her common app, got a great draft of an essay (crafted around her experiences/ insights at camp) As others have it suggested, the essay was a lesser concern (than the all-important audition) in the application process, but we felt like she had a great start. The friends, teachers, and experiences from that summer have been life-changing for her. She saw many of those same kids on the audition trail and is at school with many of them. As mentioned above, she was able to request a recommendation from her summer teacher. He got to know her very well, and this was a huge help. Connecting with visiting faculty from schools where she planned to apply also provided great insight regarding their teaching styles and gave her something to mention in her supplemental apps. for those schools. Friends and connections for life!

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The OP undoubtedly knows what Meadowmount entails and how it differ from Interlochen.

Just for clarification:

Interlochen - high school age (and younger)only; Meadowmount - high school and college in the same private teaching studios although not housed in the same dorms. Students of all ages interact in dining room, concerts, etc. Minors at MM are under a different set of rules than over 18’s. More restricted and monitored.

Interlochen - dorm activities and dorm friends and dorm counselor MM - Private rooms. Counselors may provide practice suggestions for those struggling with new routines, but (imho) MM works best for students who able to work (and live) very independently.

MM for minors is not the “camp” experience with dorm toilet cleaning , flag ceremonies, cook-outs, etc. that is part of Interlochen. There are some optional recreational activities for MM students, but don’t think of MM as a “camp” as in what Girl/Boy Scouts or outdoor church camp or Interlochen participants might experience.

Interlochen - orchestra (or band) along with chamber (may be duets, trios, quartets) for instrumentalists, optional concert attendance when not performing; Meadowmount - primarily individual practice with chamber (although not guaranteed), required concert attendance. No orchestra. Cello and Violin emphasis - no winds. Chamber music - primarily string quartets. Violinists often have the opportunity to play viola in quartets even if they are not viola specialists.

Interlochen focus - on large ensembles (orchestra or band) with lessons and chamber and optional other arts. MM - individual growth through hours of required practice. Some individual practice of chamber music and chamber rehearsals, but most practice is on solo and etude material

Two VERY different places.

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NOT THE SAME - but I wanted to share summer camp experiences that my son has had that have had strict no mobile phone policy or being away where there has been no network and he has absolutely loved it.

He is a typical ‘phone addict’ and I did wonder how it would work but he was busy all the time and so didn’t really ‘miss’ the phone. He is just heading off to a MM and so I am sure like your S does not fill his time consistently on the mobile device as music fills his time.

On a separate note re music camps - yes he was younger - but on the first music camp (no phones again) we picked him up after watching the final performance and the first thing he said was ‘that was the best week of my life’.

I wouldn’t worry :grin:

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Thank you so much for your advice. You touched all the concerns that I have and solved many questions/ worries!