A band camp can refer to many different types of camp, normally for kids, in which the main emphasis is on practicing musical instruments, getting specialist help, and playing in ensembles. Such a camp can have numerous types of focus, or be highly specialized. For instance you could attend a band camp that specializes in orchestral music, or jazz. Alternately, some band camps have several different types of training at the same time. A percussionist, for example, might attend a band camp that features opportunities to play in a jazz band, a symphonic band and a full orchestra. What is offered depends much upon the length of the camp and the teachers who are involved.
Like many other types of camps, most band camps take place during the summer. Duration of a band camp is variable. Some last only over a weekend, while others can last a couple of weeks, or even a month or two. Prices range dramatically. A full summer band camp can be costly, but a great experience for kids. A one week camp might cost anywhere from a couple hundred to several thousand US dollars (USD). Summer long band camps will be the most expensive, and may cost up to ten thousand USD, if not more.
Sometimes a school orchestra or junior symphony will have a weekend long camp or retreat in order to get prepared for the coming year of performance and play. In addition to rigorous practice, students are often placed in their “chairs” for the year, determining the kind of parts they will play. First chair for any instrument is usually auditioned for during this time. The more competitive kids in a camp of this nature may feel pressure to have higher designations during the year and be very focused on being placed above their fellow musicians. This doesn’t always create the best “camp” spirit, even though the focus in this type of band camp is to bring the musicians together mentally as well as musically.
For summer band camps that do not belong to a specific orchestra or school, attendees may be more relaxed. Further, in addition to musical practice, a band camp may offer other typical summer camp opportunities, like opportunities to hike, swim and do arts and crafts. Yet most of the time will be spent on becoming a better musician.
Perhaps you missed the opportunity to attend band camp as a child and still wish you had that chance. Luckily, for many in the US, there are now band camps for adults, usually one-week sessions, that can give adults the chance to work on perfecting their musicianship and playing in ensembles. Some of the most popular of these are jazz camps, where people with a little musical knowledge get a week’s lessons and practice in learning how to improvise and better play jazz. Such camps may also feature music appreciation and history sessions as well as opportunities to practice.