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Reader Survey: Summer Camps & Workshops

By Christian Wissmuller

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Just as educators begin planning for the fall semester well before September (good ones, anyway…), it’s absolutely not too early to be prepping for academic pursuits during the summer months. Camps and workshops afford both students and instructors the opportunity to continue to hone their craft, pursue music scholarship, and connect with jazz culture in ways distinct from the traditional classroom setting.

We recently polled JAZZed readers on the subject of these summer programs – roughly 1,000 participated – to learn of the upsides (and downsides?), participation rates, and current trends. Read on…

If you’re an educator, do you, yourself, teach at summer jazz camps or workshops?

For young jazz scholars, what are the biggest benefits to attending these types of camps and workshops?

What percentage of your students attend summer jazz camps?


“I always want more kids to attend. My personal growth increased at camps, but my thirst for more knowledge and seeing what is possible was the best benefit from attending camps.”
Jeff Handel
Wando High School
Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

“Sometimes the financial costs will factor into whether a student attends a jazz camp. It’s always a great idea for jazz camps to offer some scholarships not only to the very gifted but also to those who exhibit great determination to learn and get better at their craft.”
T.K. Blue (Talib Kibwe)
Jersey City, New Jersey

“My students have the same problem attending a jazz camp as they do attending a summer all-state camp. We are a Title 1 school and they do not have the funds for camps. I am working on setting up funds for some summer camp scholarships.”
Alison Haygood
Fossil Ridge High School
Keller, Texas

Have you noticed any significant trends with respect to jazz camps and workshops – material covered, structure, cost, demographics of attendees or staff, et cetera?

“Our camp mainly caters to High School and Middle School students, we have witnessed more students staying on campus but this also has to do with the growth of the camp.”
Gordon Towell
Loyola University
New Orleans, Louisiana

“Cost tends to eliminate a lot of my students. I teach at a small university in southeast Kentucky and many of my students will have to work during the summers to make ends meet. They typically do not have the funds to spend on summer workshops.”
David Threlkeld
University of the Cumberlands
Williamsburg, Kentucky

“Students seem interested in playing more than being lectured at, especially the younger students.”
Andrew Stonerock
Tarleton State
Stephenville, Texas

“Most notable is the inequity among instruments. For example, there are fewer brass versus saxophone, always shortage of trombones, et cetera.”
Reginald “Reggie” Thomas
Northern Ilinois University
Dekalb, Illinois

“Camps seem to be increasing in number, but most are focused on mainstream jazz and big band. Our camp has seen an increase in diversity and attendance.”
Patricia Jones
Sacramento, California

“Yes. They are becoming the exclusive domain of the affluent white student, as the cost of attending is often prohibitive to a more diverse demographic.”
Robert Sabin
Manhattan School of Music, CUNY New York
New York, New York

“Seems as though fewer college age students are participating. The expense of school is too much to add these extra expenses on for the summer. However, those that can get TA positions are benefiting. And the benefit to high school learners is very high.”
Emmett Goods
University of Rhode Island
Kingston, Rhode Island

“Most, if not all, appear to be for people who have already acquired skills – not really for beginners. They also seem biased to traditional jazz instruments, not interested in expanding the range of instruments involved in jazz. It would be great if this could be a priority, whether for new/added offerings or for the sake of promoting better the ones that already do have expanded vision/offerings.”
Jeffrey Snedeker
Central Washington University
Ellensburg, Washington

“There are many more options the past several years. It seems as if every college and university now has some type of summer jazz workshop.”
Bill Sears
Interlochen Center for the Arts
Traverse City, Michigan

“There’s a great summer camp in Houston area run by the Diaz Music Institute that has great instructors, facility, affordable and a diverse faculty, staff and students. Many of his former students come back and serve as instructors/mentors. All ages!”
Marvin Sparks
Lone Star College-Kingwood
Kingwood, Texas

“Mostly the events lack diversity. Few minority ensembles play the main stage. Not enough minorities attend or present at these events. We need to provide a more welcoming environment for students, performers, and educators who may not be famous.”
Roxanne Stevenson
Chicago State University
Chicago, Illinois

“There are more opportunities now than ever before for young students of jazz to immerse themselves in the music at summer jazz camps.”
Dr. Scott Routenberg
Ball State University
Muncie, Indiana

“I teach at the Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshop, which has become like a big family, devoted to maintaining the health of the jazz tradition.”
Tim Armacost
CUNY Queens College
Queens, New York

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