Advice about Music Camps

Parent Q&A

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  • I’m looking for a day camp for my 10 year old for next summer that focuses on music.  He plays piano but I’d prefer to find something that won’t be just more music lessons for him. Instead I'm hoping to find something that might expand his musical experience and yet be fun for him as well. We live in the East Bay but would be willing to travel to find the right program. Looking forward to hearing your recommendations. Thanks!

    Both City of Berkeley and City of El Cerrito had band summer day camps that my daughter loved, organized by middle and high school band teachers. I'm not sure if they are still around, but check the various recreation department summer camps websites. My daughter did pick up a new instrument one year, so as long as you can read music and had a good attitude, I think that would be possible to have fun learning a new instrument.

    He would love the Day Camp at Pacific Boychoir Academy.

    Its located off Piedmont Ave in Oakland.

    Music and choir in the morning, field trips in the afternoon.

    My son has been a chorister for 6 years in the afterschool program and loves it!

    Check out BandWorks (Oakland - or Bird (SF - for band-oriented summer camps. I'm sure there are others out there, too. Playing in a group can be a great experience, especially if he hasn't tried it before.

    Hi Spencer! My 9-year old boy has attended and loves both Musically Minded Academy and Mr. D's Music Club, both in Oakland's Rockridge neighborhood. The former typically has a musical theater theme and incorporates acting (think Michael Jackson, Coco, the music of Star Wars) and the latter will choose a theme along the lines of a particular time (80's or "peace & love"), or famous group/musician. If a child plays an instrument and wants to contribute, they'll be put to good use. But both camps offer so much more. There's not anything "lesson-like" about them. I highly recommend both organizations.

    The San Francisco Early Music Society has an awesome one-week summer workshop for kids that is held at School of the Madeleine in Berkeley:

    It’s all music-related fun, and I encourage you to check it out.

    If your son is open to learning a string instrument, beginners are welcome at Crowden's Summer Strings camp. (Full discolsure: I teach there.) If he already plays a bit, he could be doing chamber music!

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Music sleepaway camp for 13 year old

March 2014

My 13 year old boy wants to go to a sleep away camp that specializes in music (he plays guitar). Any suggestions? Ready to send him off!

Try Community Music School. They have a wonderful summer camp in the Redwoods called Celtic Camp. My stepson, who plays the fiddle and mandolin loved it. Here's the link to their website: Beth

Your son would probably love a camp in the Santa Cruz mountains called Jam Camp West run by an Oakland non-profit called ''Living Jazz.'' Check it out here: and here: Once summer starts, my daughter and her friends literally count the days on the calendar until they can go. All they need is an interest (no training required) in music, singing or dance - the rest is magic! Jam Camp West fan

Soundwall - my kid LOVES it!!!!! There are 2 one-week sessions; it's at UCSC. Not sure if it's too late for 2014:

Music and art camp in Berkeley?

June 2010

Hi dear community of Berkeley. I am wondering if any one knows of an amazing music and art camp around in Berkeley. I have heard of some, however I would like to have more opinions. Thanks a lot

Berkeley Music and Art Camp is run by a very creative, nurturing, and all around fun director. Our kids have really enjoyed it and her other camp, Creative String Summer Camp. The kids have a blast and learn a ton. Her website is Woody

Laney Summer Music Camp

May 2010

I am interested in hearing reviews of Laney Summer Music Camp. It sounds quite wonderful, with various options for instruments and vocal programs. I'm hoping to hear from kids who have attended. What does the program actually look like? Was it fun and rewarding? How large is the program -did your child feel like they received individual attention? (That is not lost in the group.) Was your child comfortable being on the campus? Any feed back would be great. Thanks. mom to music lover

I'm responding to the Laney Summer Music Camp. My son has gone for 5 or 6 years, and loves it! It's so cheap for such a great camp ($125 for 2 weeks I think). There are alumni / young adult counselors and also the conductor. Last year it was Jay Lehmann, who also conducts Berkeley Youth Orchestra. After two years of attending this camp my son joined BYO (website: http://berkeley- and really loves it. The camp is from 9a-3p I think and they do 2 or 3 hours of music, have lunch out and about (Oakland Museum, nearby parks), and have great teams and competitions (funniest team name etc), then more music in the afternoon. It seems to be for middle school or older elementary school mostly I think. My son is going into 9th grade. It's really fun to see the concert on the last day. I think there are 50 kids or so?? From my son: You get lots of practice time, it's a good way to keep in practice and it's lots of fun. Happy Parent

Music camp for 7-year-old

Jan 2009

Has anyone had experience sending their kids to the Music Discovery Workshop by SFEMS or Crowden's Scrape, Squawk and Bang summer camps? -looking for parents' reviews. thanks. looking for music camp for 7 year old

My son has attended Crowden's Scrape, Bang, Squawk camp twice now and enjoyed it immensely. The camp is well-organized and we were impressed by how much the kids learn in a short time, as evidenced by the recital on the last day. Holly

Re: Crowden's Scrape, Bang, Squawk camp
Our daughter attended this camp for a week when she was 5 or 6, and she had a great time trying out different instruments. Since she could speak, she had told us that she wanted to play the violin, so this was a good opportunity for her to try it out -- and she now takes violin lessons. We thought it was great, and would definitely recommend the camp. lori

I highly recommend the Music Discovery Camp - we have done it 2 years in a row since my daughter was 7 and we will do it again. My child had 1 year of piano under her belt but you don't have to have any music experience. If your child doesn't play anything they suggest a set of music lessons prior to the camp. All of the themes are early music related - pirate and buccaneers theme, Robin Hood, this year is an English Country Faire. Part of the camp is lessons, ensemble playing, drama, and art of making props. It is our 2nd favorite summer camp, after girl scouts. Anon

Rock music camp for younger elementary school kids

Feb 2005

Hi - my son and his friend would like to go to a rock music summer camp. They are into electric guitars. I see suggestions on the website for overnight camps for older kids but does anyone know of music day camps for younger elementary school kids? thanks c_s

You may want to consider the Bandworks summer camp. They are local and you can find them on the web at

Last summer our son and several of his friends attended the camp. They all had a great time and plan to go again this summer. Bandworks enrolls kids as young as 8 years old, as well as teens through 18 years old. Our kids were all about 10 years old and were grouped with kids around the same age and musical experience. Last summer they took the CD recording workshop. This summer they have discussed taking that CD workshop again as well as a song writing workshop.

Bandworks also has an after school program which has been great for our son. He has taken several sessions, sometimes joined by his friends and sometimes on his own where he made new friends. His self confidence has grown tremendously through these music classes. The high point for him, and probably us as well, is end of the session when his band performs at Ashkenaz. It is very moving to watching and hearing the kids rock out in front of their cheering fans. Alan

Check out . It's a great way for kids to play in a rock band with professional instruction. The best part is the concert at the end where all the bands perform. They take kids and adults. Contact Steve Gibson at ''steve [at]''. He was my guitar teacher for years, and is a great guy. Katie

Summer music sleep away camp for teen

October 2004

My 15-year old son has really gotten into the electric guitar and I want to encourage him and help him improve. I am looking for a music camp that combines instruction and outdoor activities. He is willing to go away for it and I think that would do him a world of good. Does anyone have any recommendations? Something in New England would be great. Thanks.

My son played tenor saxaphone during high school and over several summers attended Jazz CampWest in La Honda near Santa Cruz. (click for full review)

Rock Music Camp for teenager

March 2004

Has anyone had any experience with Soundwall Rock Music Summer Camp (at Santa Cruz), Ethos Music Camp (at Chico) or any other summer overnight music camp for teens that focuses on rock music? Mother of a Bass Player

My son has attended the National Guitar Workshop summer sessions. There is one in San Francisco, overnight in Belmont, with a rock intensive. Also, both Seattle and LA host rock seminars. Depending on the style of rock (classic, progressive, etc.) he might like one or the other. LA tends to be crowded during the summit because of the big name master classes (last year was Satriani and Vai). check the website for more specific information: It's around $800 week more or less. There is also Power Chord Academy in LA (they have a website). And, there's a ''less skilled'' level workshop in the summer at Ashkenaz (not overnight) as well as Bandworks program in Jack London Square(not overnight). If you want more info, email me. gtrguymom

to ''mother of a bass player'' --

my son attended soundwall rock music summer camp for 2 summers, after 8th and 9th grades. he is also a bass player. he LOVED the program, and learned a lot, which he brought back to his local garage band.

the program is excellent. they have history of rock lessons every day. the kids are grouped in bands-for-the- week, and there is a performance for parents at the end of the week. the days are very full! they are doing music from the time they wake up until evening, and they jam and practice in the evenings, too. the kids live in a dorm, and eat in the cafeteria.

we were worried about supervision and whether the days would be full, and how our son would get along there. the kids were so busy, he loved it, and he learned a lot. no time for trouble. being on a college campus was also wonderful. the program is very positive, every musician is encouraged to push to new limits, and everyone's a star.

soundwall was set up by parents who couldn't find a good program for their son. the son is now maybe early 20's, and an instructor. it is a cool place, challenging, and very safe.

another mom of a bass player

Other Music Camps

December 2001

I'm looking for music camp alternatives to Cazadero this summer for an about-to-be-9th grader who wants to play jazz sax. By alternatives, I mean, less costly, more local, and perhaps a little less rarefied. If a listing of such things exists, could you point me to it on the Web site? Phyllis Orrick

I think the JazzSchool in downtown Berkeley has a good summer music program for junior-high and high-school-aged kids. They have a website, too, at Everyone I know who's taken classes there (including myself) has loved it. They have some really great musicians teaching. Good luck! Jane

Oakland's Feather River Camp has a jazz youth camp for 10-14 year olds. Last year, it ran from 8/20-8/25. For info, you can call 238-3791. Khalil Shaheed is the founder and director. It costs $300. Nori Hudson