Without any doubt, one of the best ways to gain pre-professional experience while a student in high school or college is to attend a summer program, camp, or festival.

When you are aiming to attend a music school at the collegiate level, gaining experience at a summer program can improve your chances tremendously of finding yourself admitted into a program.

In this article, we dive into the most popular summer music program options, including classical performance & composition, musical theatre, jazz & popular music, classical voice, and music production & technology.

For each category, I list some of the most representative programs to study in.

Without question, summer programs can be a tremendous boost to your resume’ when applying to colleges for music.

Why is that?

Tanglewood, home to one of the most prestigious summer programs – photo by UpstateNYer via Wiki Creative Commons

First, it shows that you are not just “hanging out” during your summertime. Rather, it shows you are committing yourself to your craft during the summers.

Secondly, for the summer programs that have low acceptance rates, such as the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, it shows you have already been selected into a high-level musical environment.

Believe it or not, schools actively recruit students at the top summer music programs as they are very interested in filling their rosters freshmen with the best performing arts students in the country.

For high school students, the opportunities for a summer program are breathtakingly large in just the United States alone – there are simply so many programs one can choose from to attend.

Looking at any list you find on the internet, the number of options can be overwhelming.

Certainly, compiling a list of the best summer programs is not easy to do; the best summer program any individual artist is subject to the needs of a particular musician, faculty he or she would like to study with at a summer program, what kind of schools they are looking to attend, and more.

These programs that I outline below are simply a handful of the best ones out there – I encourage use these as a starting guide when looking into summer programs best for you.

I also have personal experience with many of these, as my students collectively have attended almost all of them, so I am able to speak more in-depth about them than the average reader by drawing upon my own student client experience.


QUICK INDEX OF SUMMER MUSIC PROGRAMS

This is a big article, so you can navigate it either by using the numbered links at the bottom of this article, or with these labeled links:

PART 1: Classical Performance and Composition Summer Programs

PART 2: Classical Voice Programs Specialty Summer Programs

PART 3: Music Production & Technology Summer Programs

PART 4: Musical Theatre Summer Programs

PART 5: Jazz & Contemporary Music Summer Programs


These are just some of the factors that went into how I decided to list these particular programs program:

Track record of excellence, with alumni consistently attending top music & academic colleges in the US.

Accomplished faculty working either in a professional collegiate setting or performing professionally.

Facilities to properly accommodate the needs of a high school musician or the program itself.

– If the summer program is specifically affiliated with a college music program, that is a plus. I often recommend students attend the summer programs of the colleges they are most interested in attending.

Is open to high schoolers; these high schoolers comprise a majority of the program. While some programs on here accept college students as well, all of them are “high-school friendly.” Some summer programs are designed for college and professional-level training, such as the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado, and while Aspen does have some high school students, the majority of their students are much older.

Is based in the United States. I made one exception to this rule, mostly because the faculty is primarily based throughout the US and teaching/performing in top arts institutions.

On the next page, I outline part 1 of this list, the classical performance summer programs.