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Music Camp 101

Jul 24, 2015

Tips for Surviving (and Enjoying) Music Camp

Twenty years from now, some of your best memories from high school will probably include the time you spent at summer music camp. But right now, you’re just thinking about how hot it’s going to be and making sure you arrive with everything you need. The music camp most likely sent you a list of what to bring and what to expect. That’s a great place to start. We also have a few essential items to remember and things to keep in mind from music students from schools all across Kansas City that will help you survive (and enjoy) music camp this summer.

What to Bring to Music Camp

Besides your instrument (yes, we’ve heard stories of students forgetting to bring their instruments); these items are essential for music camp:

  • Comfortable tennis shoes and socks: Summertime screams sandals and flip flops, but you’ll be marching on a field all day. Trust us (and other music camp alum) when we say your feet will thank you for wearing socks and tennis shoes.
  • A small note pad and pen or pencil: Take one with a hole so you can thread a string through it and keep it around your neck. After all, you’re going to have your hands full. If you have a pen with a string on the cap, even better, but at the least wear shorts with pockets.
  • Shorts: It’s going to be HOT! Wear shorts to help keep cool and keep your legs from sweating. Just don’t forget the sunscreen.
  • Sunscreen: Those stories you’ve heard about sun poisoning are real! Sun poisoning isn’t really “poisoning,” but instead a bad sunburn. You can get a sunburn after only 15 minutes in the sun, and you may not know it until hours later when you’re in massive pain. Even if you already have a tan, you still need to wear sunscreen and reapply it often. It’s miserable to be sunburned AND carry an instrument AND march in the heat.
  • A hat or something to cover your head: A hat, scarf, etc. not only keeps the sun out of your eyes, but also the sun off of the top of your head to protect your scalp from sunburn. Sunglasses aren’t enough. Plus, no one wants their camp memory to be a school picture with raccoon eyes.
  • Sunglasses: Choose sunglasses that have UV protection. The fashionable kinds may look cool on you, but they won’t protect your eyes. You’ll be looking up at your director, who may be standing in the sun. Music camp requires serious shades.
  • Refillable water bottle (filled with water): Yes, water. Not soda, energy drinks or juice. Plain old water. Chances are that you’ll be soaked with sweat pretty early each morning. Sweating is important because it’s your body’s way of cooling itself. If you’re not sweating, you’re dehydrated, which can lead to a headache, nausea, dizziness and passing out. If you can’t stand the taste of water, sports drinks are the second best option.
  • Lip balm: Woodwind and brass instrument players, especially, need lip balm. But being in the heat all day can make your lips dry. Keep a tube in your pocket.
  • Food!: If you’re attending  day camp (not spending the nights), bring your lunch or lunch money. And don’t skip breakfast. No, maybe eating a big breakfast doesn’t sound too appealing when you have a day of marching in the heat, but it’s better to eat breakfast than get sick from an empty stomach and have to sit out a day of camp.

Along with the “things to pack,” there are a few things you can do to mentally prepare for a great experience.

How to Prepare Mentally

  • Allow yourself plenty of time: Showing up right on the dot is the same as being late. Give yourself plenty of time to prepare your instrument, stretch, etc. Rushing is stressful!
  • Pay attention and do your best: Yes, it’s probably miserably hot. Yes, you’ve done this drill before. But the way to avoid having to re-do drills over and over is to give it your all the first time.
  • Be cool: There will be times when you’ll be frustrated. Music camp isn’t easy. You’re there to improve your skills and learn new techniques. Be patient. You’ll get it.

You’ll easily survive music camp as long you have the things you need – from lip balm to a good attitude. It can be hard work. You could end up with tan lines on your ankles. You might get bumped into. But you’ll make new friends, become a better player and learn things you never knew. Music camp isn’t easy, but it could be the most fun you've ever had while working so hard. And who knows, it might just launch you into a full time profession when you're older!