By Emily Delgado
Each summer, young musicians from all over the U.S. flock to Iowa City to make music and improve their instrumental skills as part of the Iowa Summer Music Camps, hosted by the UI School of Music.
“I think this camp is a really good experience especially for those who want to know more about playing their instrument,” Lizzie Hanson, a returning camper from North Liberty, Iowa, and rising high school junior, says.
Hanson has been involved in music for six years. She started attending the camp in 2019 when she was in eighth grade.
“I got involved in the clarinet summer camp,” Hanson says. “I was a little eighth grader who wanted to learn more about playing.”
The pandemic has been challenging for the arts community, including student musicians. COVID-19 forced the UI School of Music to pause its summer camp offering, but after a brief hiatus, welcomed an enthusiastic group of campers this summer.
“We're just really excited to be able to have our summer music camp program again,” School of Music Summer Camps Director Mark Heidel says. “And to have the students back on campus. It’s been very successful.”
Music camps have been offered at Iowa since the 1950s and initially were band and orchestra camps. Over time, the camp evolved to offer many more sessions, including percussion, jazz, piano, clarinet, and saxophone — all taught by Iowa faculty.
“We have an incredible facility and incredible faculty here at the University of Iowa, and it's a wonderful service to be able to do outreach and bring youth to campus,” Heidel says.
This experience isn’t just about music. Heidel says because participants are exposed to so many kids from different places and backgrounds, campers also develop important social skills.
Many campers also live on campus and are introduced to university life for the first time during their sessions. Participants range in age from rising seventh graders to rising high school seniors. Faculty work to provide a warm introduction to campers as many are thinking about college — and may decide to join the Hawkeye family.
"It gives young students the opportunity to see what Iowa offers not just as a university, but also our school of music for those who might want to pursue music as a major,” Heidel says.
School of Music Director Tammie Walker says faculty were thrilled to welcome young students back this year—and are already dreaming about next year.
"Our faculty and staff ensured that this year’s camps were an exceptional experience for the students and we are already looking forward to planning summer 2023 offerings," Walker said.