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Music Matters! Summer Academy

Music Conservatory of Sandpoint, Inc

Each year our Summer Academy of camps and master classes invigorate more and more students through musical mentorship. Any child, 2nd-12th grade, may join a variety of performing arts groups including open choir, theater or percussion fun. Performance experience then moves a student along over a sequence of years into orchestra, advanced ensembles and master classes.

Uniquely and crucially important, the Academy also connects students regionally and globally to visiting student players and guest artists. This year, young and aspiring students sat side by side musicians from as near as Yakima, WA and as far as Germany. Because of this cross cultural and mentorship component, many of our outreach students are inspired to further their studies in the arts.

The Essential Question that guided our projects’ focus was:

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

During the Summer Academy young musicians studied via group practice and instrument specific micro 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 a visiting guest conductor from the Spokane Youth Symphony, plus two guest artists and seven student mentors from YAMA in Yakima, Washington. Music brings unity across communities!

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 including the whimsical music of Harry Potter.

Finally, special focus is placed on music theory and the sequencing of techniques for developing performance skills. As a demonstration of learned progression, all groups convened together for a joint community performance at the Panida Theater and a FREE performance in the park as part of our innaugural Celebration of Arts & Culture.

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

From Janice Wall, Program Director and Brass Mentor: “I worked with Josh, the French horn player, and Thomas, the trombone player. The music was quite challenging for them. We made progress in sectionals, but when rehearsing with the ensemble, I noticed they were just sitting there not playing. I sat with them and helped them count and figure out where they were. All of a sudden they turned a corner and were able to play independently without my help. I was so proud of them that they came to the moment and made the giant leap to come up to the level of the music.”


The Summer Academy welcomed 102 students throughout the course of our five camps and master classes.

21 choir children from Peru to India joined with local camp children to perform at our Celebration of Arts & Culture Performance at Memorial Field in Sandpoint.

Visiting guest conductor Roberta Botelli from the Spokane Youth Symphony was invited back for a second season.

Finally, two mentor teachers and seven proficient students served as mentors in our International Youth Orchestra.

International student representation from Germany.

Performances and camps were coordinated with the Pend Oreille Arts Council, Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, Lost Horse Press, 7B Culinary.


Sandpoint has its own El Sistema orchestra with Music Matters!, a registered after-school, El Sistema program at the conservatory. Both Sandpoint’s conservatory and YAMA are members of El Sistema USA, a network of musical entities, where participants work to create opportunities in which every child has access to music through ensemble training and regular public performances, Samuels said. Nationwide, these groups are created to promote positive youth development and encourage thriving communities through the common language of music.