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Guitar Summer Camps: Kid-Friendly Picks in the U.S. and Canada

Updated on April 5, 2017

There are slews of news stories that say music makes kids smarter. While that may be true, the media never seems to mention the most important benefit musician’s get: a powerful means of self-expression. When kids learn to play guitar, they are able to speak a language that anyone can understand, no matter their culture or race. Musicians have noted that even animals respond strongly to music.

Starting young will give any musician a huge advantage. As years pass people typically have less and less free time. On top of that, children have nimble minds that allow them to learn faster than adults, whether we want to admit it or not. Years from now that early start may allow your child to blossom into a skilled guitarist capable of entertaining large audiences.

Why Music Camps Rocks

Some parents force guitar lessons upon their kids. The quality of the teacher can make the difference between the child hating it or finding a passion for music all their own. Sadly most instructors boringly teach the mechanics of music and don’t provide adequate inspiration. Interestingly kids often tend to do better in a group setting with other kid of a similar age. They tend to inspire each other. It helps to have others there they can relate to instead of just a skilled instructor four times their age.

At music camps, participants are just as likely to learn from each other as they are from the teacher. It really starts to get interesting when a child gets enough experience to play in a group setting. At “rock and roll” style camps they are known to pair up kids so they can form bands. Playing music like this is an absolute blast for the kids and also gives them the most valuable learning experience possible. When push comes to shove, the most value learning is more about performance than reading charts and clapping quarter-notes.

Find the Right Guitar Summer Camp

Besides the National Guitar Workshop (locations in Los Angeles, New Milford, Austin and McLean) and a handful of others in the U.S., there aren’t many franchises in the realm of guitar-specific summer camps. Most camps are independent operations that based in one or two cities at most.

Googling “guitar summer camp” along with the state or city you live in won’t always get you very good results. Some of the better summer camps out there have a poor web presence, and it can be tough to find them among heaps of search results.

Browsing through the music camp listings on Camp Channel is a far better option. It will save you time, particularly if you are the selective type. At the time of this writing there are over 200 camps listed there, although not all are guitar-orientated. The camps are located throughout the United States and Canada.

Sometimes smaller camps are the best.
Sometimes smaller camps are the best.

What to Look For

There are a number of features you will want to look for in a guitar summer camp. I recommend calling the school and asking some questions to get a feel for what the school offers. The most important criteria of course depends on the age of the child and how well-developed their skills at music are.

Here are some questions you can ask to get the ball rolling. These examples may seem a little generic to music-savvy parents, however if you don’t know much about music yourself questions like these will help get the conversation rolling.

  • Will my kid learn about music theory?
  • Will my kid gain sight-reading skills?
  • Will my kid develop creativity?
  • Will the course improve musicianship?
  • Will my kid gain confidence in performing?
  • Will my kid learn to play in a group setting?
  • Will the instructor inspire students to further develop guitar skills?
  • Are lessons taught in a fun, stress-free environment?

You may fancy the idea of strict classical instruction, but have a kid that would rather get involved in something more casual, like DayJams. Remember to put your kid’s needs first, not your own. Living vicariously through your child will only put a strain on your relationship. If in doubt ask the youngster what is important to them and go from there.

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