Going Camping

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Alison Reese is editor of Harp Column. She is a freelance performer and teacher in West Michigan. Email her at areese@harpcolumn.com.

Where will you pitch your tent this summer?

Between the frigid winter temperatures and post-holiday exhale, it’s hard to believe that it is already time to start thinking about summer. That’s right, the calendar says January, but now is the time to start preparing for what you’ll be doing in July.

Our “Summer Harp Camp Roundup” is the eighth time in the last 12 years we’ve compiled our summer camp directory, and it’s our biggest yet. We found over 60 festivals, camps, retreats, seminars, and workshops across the United States and beyond where harpists can sharpen their skills and expand their musical horizons this summer.

It’s interesting to see how the number of opportunities for harpists to improve their playing over the summer has exploded in the last 12 years. When we put together our first summer harp camp roundup back in 2005, there were fewer than 20 programs available for harpists in the United States. Today the number has more than tripled, and for anyone who has been to a summer harp camp, it’s easy to see why.

A summer program can drastically improve your harp playing and musical skills in a very short period of time—if you are willing to do your part. A summer camp takes you out of your nice, comfy musical comfort zone and drops you into an intense, focused environment where all you really have to do is harp. It’s the same reason language immersion programs are so successful in quickly teaching students to speak a second language—in a highly focused environment, learning and growth can happen more rapidly than a traditional environment where you have so many other demands and distractions.

But summer camps aren’t all work and no play. Quite the opposite, in fact. The other major reason a summer harp program can be so transformative is the relationships you form with the other participants and the instructors. Again, that short but intense environment of summer camp speeds up the traditional development of relationships. A fellow harpist you spend two weeks with at camp can end up being a friend for life, and a teacher you study with just a handful of times can turn out to be influential in your musical development.

Camps aren’t just for kids anymore. There is, quite literally, something for everyone. Adult beginner looking for a summer retreat? There’s a program for that. High-schooler looking for a rustic camp experience? There’s a program for that. College student looking for pre-professional training? There’s a program for that. Ten-year-old kid looking for a good first learning experience away from home? There’s a camp for that.  And because we know our readers’ needs are so diverse and time so limited, we’ve even given you a chart that shows you all 60-plus programs at a glance so you can easily highlight the ones that might meet your needs.

One additional program that didn’t make our list because it is held every other year (we only list annual programs in our roundup), but should be on your radar nonetheless is the American Harp Society’s Summer Institute, June 25–28, at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn. It’s another chance to stretch yourself this summer.

As you make your summer plans, don’t forget to check our online directory of summer camps at www.harp
column.com for the latest updates to the programs listed in this issue. Enjoy your summer! 

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Editor of Harp Column, freelance harpist, private teacher, hot yoga lover, and grammar geek.

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