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Music Matters! Summer Academy

Music Conservatory of Sandpoint Inc

For eight years, the Music Matters! Summer Academy is responding to North Idaho’s increasing need for affordable arts education. Working collaboratively with local and regional artists, as well as Sandpoint arts organizations, the Summer Academy brings a rich array of musical and artistic offerings to the youth of our town for weeks at a time.

Our summer series of classes, workshops and camps are designed to teach the full spectrum of students – ranging from toddlers, to school age children with zero prior experience to very proficient young musicians.

This year, the Summer Academy overcame the hurdles of a global pandemic through the creative efforts of 19 artists, who orchestrated innovative, outdoor, and adapted activities to keep the music playing!

The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:

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

During the 2020 Summer Academy, young musicians studied via micro  musical ensembles, an outdoor theater group, as well as participation in a variety of skill building electives throughout the day.

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

Theater students focused on stage presence, improv, voice projection and character development. Working with local radio station KRFY, students overcame the limitations of COVID this summer by performing “live” via a radio play.

Skill progression occurred via practice, demonstration, and repetition. To increase the comprehensive nature of the Academy, students were also exposed to local guest artists Kelly Price and Peter Goetzinger, who introduced a visual arts element to the camp.

As part of the Academy’s elective courses, students also transformed an outdoor piano into a piece of community art.

The marriage of music and art brought a new outlet for self expression and creativity – one that the community was able to enjoy as well.

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

A student survey was administered at the end of camp. A summary of student responses include:

“I learned how to vibrate my voice.”
“I got a lot better at switching positions.”
“We were in the park and we all had to listen a lot better and play louder since we were outside.”
“I worked on my duet skills and playing together with another musician.”
“I remember learning about different modes and cadences.”

“trying to play slow”‘
“watching teachers play”
“Being able to ask questions helped me learn.”
“I listened to other instruments as I played.”
“[Another student] helped by showing where each letter way because I was lost.”

“It calms me.”
“It gives me a reason to have fun and kinda escape the real world.”
“I enjoy playing music because it helps to promote self expression.”
“Because I was born to sing.”
“Music is very important to me not just because I play piano, but also because I love the sound the feeling and relaxation of it.”


“She feels more comfortable and confident singing.”

“His instructors are very knowledgeable and helpful.”

“My daughter has been happier and more confident since music camp.”


The Summer Academy welcomed 89 students throughout the course of our simultaneous camps and interactive elective classes. Classes ranged from early childhood through high school. Children from our year long musical outreach were invited to attend free of charge, and no one was turned away due to financial limitations.

Skill building was a key element of all classes and camps. Community engagement was achieved through the use of outside venues and local radio station KRFY. As an example, theater classes as well as musical performances were held at Farmin Park for passers by to enjoy.

MCS instructors share:

Because we were outside, “People passing by would stop and listen, video the music, or even make a point to tell us how much they enjoyed our rehearsals. It really embodies the philosophy of our outreach, taking music to the people.”

Students transferred their skills to each performance.

“One of my favorite moments happened when we rehearsed and performed without a conductor. When working in a chamber ensemble without a conductor, each musician has to pay attention and follow the visual cues (body movements) of the leader. We worked on this in rehearsal and the students did such a good job.”

Finally, local guest artists Kelly Price and Peter Goetzinger brought a new element to camp this year, the Instrument Art Factory. Working together with visual artists, MCS combined art and musical for a community piano restoration project.

In a time of limited community interaction, the MCS Summer Academy filled a much needed gap in the performing arts, especially among the youth of our town.


Music is an essential part in the fabric of our community. In an effort to share joy and the creative outlet that the arts provides, the Summer Academy focused on providing a safe and productive environment for the youth of our town – during an otherwise challenging year.

Musical skills grew. Visual art was designed for the community, and participating youth eased into the reflective and relieving qualities the performing arts allow.

Through the collective efforts of local artists, MCS was able to bring both visual and musical expression for participating youth, as well as the greater community.