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Summer Music Academy

Music Conservatory of Sandpoint

The Music Conservatory of Sandpoint, along with twelve resident musicians and artists, provided four weeks of summer intensive workshops and programs, called the Summer Academy, at our downtown 110 Main Street location. 95 students participated in our tenth annual Summer Academy, selecting from a variety of classes and majors including choir, marimba, musical theater, orchestra, piano, theory, and ukulele. This project seeks to bridge learning gaps, while connecting more advanced students with mentorship opportunities.

The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:

`Enduring Understanding`: Analyzing creators context and how they manipulate elements of music

Core learning aspects included music theory, analysis and interpretation of music, as well as performance. In preparation, curriculum specialists and expert instructors selected skill appropriate music that introduce technique in both small and large group settings.

Rehearsals were structured with a combination of group, individualized, and instrument specific training.

During the Summer Academy, young musicians studied via group practice and instrument specific groups, a place where specialized skills were honed. Music skill progression occurred via practice, demonstration, and repetition.

To increase striving for excellence and positive peer achievement, students were exposed to professional artists, advanced student mentors, and college interns.

Students groups focused on scales for warm ups, ear training and following conductor cues, as well as exploring new repertoire. Students practiced beginner-medium pieces in a variety of different styles and genres.

Finally, special focus was placed on music theory and the sequencing of techniques for developing performance skills. As a demonstration of learned progression, all groups provided community performances.

At the conclusion of the project, students responded to questions related to the identified Standards:

Anchor Standard #1. Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work – Students in our Instrument Art Factory turned old instruments into painted masterpieces. Students chose colors, developed themes and planned their work. Most students begged to take their instruments home.

Anchor Standard #2. Organize and develop artistic ideas and work – In theater, students discussed how to enter and exit the stage, groupings of dance elements, and placement of props. Older students served as mentors/stage managers.

Anchor Standard #3. Refine and complete artistic work – Dress rehearsals are key and the final performance is the capstone.

Anchor Standard #4. Select, analyze and interpret artistic work for presentation – Students auditioned for specific roles/solos.

Anchor Standard #5. Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation – Groups broke into sections to spend time improving. Again, older students mentor younger/less advanced.

Anchor Standard #6. Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work – Audience responses, even as simple as clapping, or laughing at the appropriate time solidified hard work and audience understanding.


In June 2022, the Music Conservatory completed its `Stage of Dreams,` a proper stage, constructed in our 90-seat concert hall. The Summer Academy students were the first group to use the stage. The stage elevated teachable moments and performance practice.

The presence of the stage, and the opportunity for students to perform on it, even though it is somewhat meager in size, makes a world of difference.

No one needed to explain to the children what happens on a stage. They knew that it was time to step up their game, dig deep, and boldly share their talents with a captive audience.

For our school, the completion of a long-awaited renovation project, has completed the experience for the youth who participate in our Summer Academy.

Because the stage is located street-side with open air capacity in the summer, passersby enjoyed the venue just as much as the performers. The power of arts and music spilled out into the streets.

We were grateful that support from Idaho Commission on the Arts was one of the vehicles, which made our Summer Academy come alive.


-MCS again offered a break week to staff between camps, and rotation of majors to avoid boredom. This is the second year for this practice and it’s working well.
-From the Choir Director – `In the choir class, most of the students auditioned for solos, so we made room for many solos. They must have felt safe to sing on their own`
-From the Orchestra Director -`Alain was able to play those harder pieces at the summer academy and improved his counting and rhythm, and he enjoyed it! And he played well even by himself at the Sunday concert.

Michael got to play with the first violins, so he was challenged to play something harder and play better…his mom told me in September 22 that he wanted to sign up already for the 2023 summer academy.`

From our Program Director – `We tried having more `major,` 2 1/2 hour classes instead of 45 minute `elective` classes. It worked well, but some classes didn’t have enough enrollment to run. We will probably do some kind of combination next year. We modified the concept and and schedule of the camp this year and this format is something that we can replicate every year, because it works.`

Use staff strengths. From our Program Director – `This format takes a lot of staff to work, so I would recommend to others that they design their camp according to the number and strengths of their staff.`