Summer music festivals 2021

What are people’s thoughts on summer music festivals this year? My daughter fully intends to apply for these, but now that the time to submit applications is upon us, I’m privately wondering if they’re even going to happen.

My daughter wants to try for Brevard, Interlochen and BUTI for sure. BUTI hasn’t opened applications yet but the other two have.

A second question for those who have older kids, what is people’s experience with summer music festivals the summer between high school and college?

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I think it is possible that in-person festivals will happen. A lot depends on what happens with vaccines of course. And let’s hope audiences are comfortable attending concerts, but it not, participants can perform and livestream at least.

As for the summer between high school and college, that is a personal decision. Some kids want to spend that time at home, with family and friends, before launching, especially those with difficulties with transition. If the program is shorter, or earlier in the summer, that can help for those students.

In the fall, they will have to adjust to a new situation, new people, new teachers, all of which takes some psychic energy so again, it depends on the person I think.

In terms of music, they can of course continue with lessons and practice at home. But if going to a program/festival helps them feel more prepared and less nervous about going to music school in the fall, then that is a big plus. And they might meet some fellow prospective students.

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[quote=“compmom, post:2, topic:2808618”]
In terms of music, they can of course continue with lessons and practice at home.[/quote]

She ended up at home last year, of course. And we both felt she made really wonderful progress. I would be totally okay with that again. But I think if festivals happen, she’d love to get away from us and be with people her own age. At this point we’ve been sharing the same 2,000 square feet pretty much continuously since last March. As an adult-to-be, I think she’s starting to feel the need to spread her wings a little.


Yes I meant to include COVID isolation as a factor arguing for attending festivals. Glad you included it!


I have to chime in and say that I’m praying that summer festivals actually happen this year. I have two D’s who live for these festivals. The travel, meeting new friends and making music with like minded musicians is so valuable to them. Last summer’s virtual programs just didn’t compare. They’re doing their applications right now for a few. Fingers crossed.


My son attended EMS in Greensboro the summer between high school and college. He had a great experience and met nice people. The rest of the summer he chilled out and we travelled domestically. I think if your daughter loves music it’s a great separator between finishing high school and the grind of college.


Aspen Music Festival is scheduled to be in person this summer. Fingers crossed all goes as planned.


I really hope that some music programs / camps will happen this summer. Some music schools are doing in-person semester this spring so I am more optimistic for summer.

My son did an audition-base one-month-long summer program that included an international tour between high school and college move-in. He (we) had a nice graduation trip with several of his high school non-musician friends before he took off. He had grown a lot as a person and a musician by participating in the summer program. However, he had no time for getting driver’s license or part-time job or packing for his own dorm.

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Crossing our fingers (and toes!) that summer festivals will be an option this year! D is currently preparing several applications/auditions. Camps/festivals have been so helpful for D in the past—in terms of skill development, connecting with teachers, and forming lasting friendships/ connections. It feels like she already knew the majority of her studio mates at college due to having spent summers together!

Last summer was the summer between HS and college for her. Great festival plans were, of course, dashed by Covid-19. That program did not offer a virtual option, so she participated in another. It definitely helped to keep her going, and provided valuable skills and connections, but as we know, virtual pales in comparison to being in person. She did like having the option of something around 4 weeks in length—just so that she could have some time to relax and to prep for the transition to college.

D is loving college so far, but the performance side continues to suffer with Covid. A summer job would provide some much needed spending money, but with all of the lost opportunities of the past year, I think she’d rather be playing. We look at this as a sort of job internship (for which WE’RE paying :joy:). I hope it happens for all of our musicians! :heart:


Received the sad news today that there will be no in-person pre-college programs at Boston University Tanglewood Institute (BUTI) this summer. They are hoping to offer an online option instead.

We’re disappointed that Tanglewood is going online. It was on our list for D to apply to this year. I need a good alternative.

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@mom2clarinetobsessedkid thanks for the heads up. It’s still not posted on their website so we would have continued waiting for them to open registration up.

@SweetStrings maybe look at Brevard as an alternative? They have their sessions broken up differently from usual. 4 week sessions, lower caps on enrollment, etc. (For us, Brevard has the advantage of being pretty close as well.)

Edit: looks like we missed the Interlochen deadline again. But we missed it last year, too, and she was accepted. Interlochen has the same scheduling for summer but also plans for a lower cap on in-person enrollment.

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Aspen will be in person, but they’re not accepting applications - just taking those who were supposed to come in 2020, and I suppose a few who applied early, but not taking anyone else.

Hmm, I’m guessing there might be fewer spots to go around this summer, with some programs canceled and others offering priority to last year’s admitted students. I’m now remembering that last year Interlochen offered us a secured spot for 2021 if we did the 2020 online program (we ended up declining this).

Brevard I think refunded everyone for 2020. They have something on their site about having to reapply even if you had been accepted for 2020.

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Wish I knew more about strings! I’m sure other will have suggestions for you. I would definitely try Interlochen and Brevard. (I wouldn’t be surprised if Interlochen extends their deadline depending on numbers) D will be applying to Brevard’s college age program—along with several others. Hoping to hedge our bets, and to find something in person!

My S attends MSM precollege online and was not so excited about a festival this summer because he didnt want to travel. Will probably audition for BUTI now since it will be online, does anyone have experience with their online program last summer?

BUTI didn’t offer online instruction last summer. It will be new for this year! :slightly_smiling_face:

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@stringbird I’m in agreement that the pickings might be slim this summer. My D went to Heifetz virtual last summer but there were no promises made for 2021. She’s got to audition again.

I usually have my girls apply to 4-5 programs each year since a few will usually reject them. I hate the idea of wasting an application fee on a program that’s just going to cancel.

My D is kinda picky about summer programs. I’m going to have to explain to her that this year might just be a whatever works summer. We can’t really be too choosy.

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Sooo disappointing about BUTI. Feels like a never ending nightmare!


I hesitate to comment bc I don’t want to say this is a good thing…bc it is NOT a good thing at all. Still here goes.

My D does a podcast (who doesn’t these days, right) with local musician/performance artists about their journeys. A recent guest, who is around 40 I would guess, was talking about a time in his early 30s when he hit a lull (in reference to the lull now for ALL professionals). He had been successful in college and YAP programs (apprentice programs for opera singers). But then he hit a bad patch and was looking at slow year…so he had to start making small opportunties to get work and meet more people…first time for him. It blossomed after a few years into a more varied and good career.

This happened to him when he was older but it’s not uncommon right after college. Many young artists get out of college and find that they have to make opportunities or they will work very little. Spring semester you are on a big stage with amazing performers at one of the most selective schools…and a year later, you and a few buddies are in a corner of bar with a jar singing as people socialize. Talk about a come down (note: he also talks about the hubris of thinking that will never happen to you). This is so darn common. It almost a rite of passage at some point in your career. And as her guest said…it really separates those who simply want to be musicians from those who have to be musicians. The ones that HAVE to be musicians find a way no matter how humble. Many of the performers emphasize this ability to collaborate in an unstructured way with friends/colleagues as a very important survival skill that often can not be deeply honed when “opportunites are given” to you.

I hope this is more positive than annoying…lol. My D doesn’t expect to be performing until next fall or winter so I share the concern. She will continue to do small scale virutal stuff…which has given her more creative license and new skills…bc she HAS to. All musicians are in the same boat truly. I hope that they all can find ways that may feel “less than” but still teach some important skills.