Making Connections: Summer at Eastman High School and Middle School Programs

March 17, 2017


Participants in a 2014 Music Horizons recital

by Jennifer Watson and Shaya Greathouse, Eastman Community Music School

As winter winds down, many middle and high school musicians are considering their summer options—where will they attend a camp or festival this year? With whom will they perform or study? How can they prepare for college? Every year, Summer@Eastman students share their thoughts with us and every year the testimonials echo two common themes: “amazing faculty” and “inspiring friends.”

I felt a strong connection with my teacher, even in the short time of three weeks.” -Music Horizons participant

For most prospective students, the quality of the teaching faculty is the first and one of the biggest considerations. The Eastman Community Music School (ECMS) recognizes how important the student-teacher connection is for a young musician’s growth, confidence, performance opportunities, and career choices. ECMS’s Summer@Eastman programs offer top-notch instruction by distinguished faculty members from the Eastman School of Music, Eastman Community Music School, and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. Students in our residential camps, such as Music Horizons, Summer Jazz Studies, or Eastman@Keuka attend these multi-week programs in large part to be able to work with faculty members of such high caliber. Camp participants not only learn valuable skills from these teachers, but some have noted that “the teachers have real enthusiasm about what they do,” and “there is the sense that everyone cares about your future in music and helps you to keep it going.” Our faculty members love working with students and return year after year to teach in these programs. Some students find these connections to be so meaningful that they will return to a camp a second year to continue studying with a particular teacher. This year’s applications include some previous camp participants, enthusiastic at the prospect of returning for another summer to learn more from and further their connections with the outstanding artist educators on our faculty.

The biggest upside of this camp were the staff, the music, and the people. I felt like I could really bond with people, and I felt really comfortable talking to the kids and the staff… I was finally accepted for who I am.”
– Eastman@Keuka participant

While students choose Eastman programs because of our incredible faculty and coursework, they also find life changing connections with their peers. These summer programs generate unique student communities, strengthened by a common bond that goes beyond students’ ages. Participants come to Eastman from all over the world with a diversity of culture and international backgrounds, yet share a common love of making music, a dedication to study and practice, and similar career aspirations. Year after year, students enthusiastically express that they enjoyed making “great friends who came from different places” and also learning how to collaborate in ensembles and combos, in and out of the classroom. The shared experiences, challenges, triumphs, and connections that students accomplish in their short time here often form bonds that last beyond the camp. Because all of these students share a great passion for making music, they inspire and support one another in their musical journeys, and some will remain friends and collaborators for years to come.

The whole experience of the Music Horizons program changed my life…as a musician and I am very happy that I was given the honor of participating in it.
–2016 Music Horizons participant