Before I became a recorder player, I had no idea that summer workshops were a thing. And when I discovered they were, I was skeptical. You mean people voluntarily subjected themselves to dorm room living after college? For fun?
Now, of course, summer workshops anchor my season. Some workshops I teach every year and some I rotate through, but I enjoy them all, and I can’t imagine my year without these weeks devoted to learning and growing with students and colleagues.
But if you’re new to recorder world, you might be wondering, as I did, why you’d invite college cafeteria food back into your life.
First off, cafeteria food has improved immensely since you and I went to college!
Second, and more importantly, there are opportunities available at summer workshops that are tough to come by during day-to-day life or smaller weekend workshops. Here are a few:
No matter how much you love your local teacher, there are limits to each person’s knowledge, abilities, and time. Summer workshops almost always offer a large slate of faculty, and getting to know multiple teachers can open you up to new ways of thinking and playing, expose you to new repertoire, or give you a different angle on something you’ve been working toward.
During a weekend workshop, it’s simply not possible to delve deeply into techniques, repertoire, or concepts. Summer workshops tend to be longer, somewhere around a week, and this allows you more time to deepen your understanding and build skills.
Summer workshops draw regionally and nationally, so you’re able to make connections with other players outside your local sphere. Peer to peer learning at workshops is real and invaluable. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try out a comfort tenor, or talk to someone who has put together a school concert. Someone at the workshop can probably help you out!
Do you dream of a class devoted entirely to the hurdy gurdy? Are you keen to try out crumhorn or play with harpsichord? How about a class devoted to music for bass recorders? Summer workshops, with their large student and faculty pools, are the place to do this.
For those of us with many commitments outside of playing the recorder, the most precious gift summer workshops offer is time. Think about how much time you spend each day working, cooking, cleaning, commuting, etc. Now sweep all of that away and replace it with large blocks of time devoted to music, punctuated by meals someone else makes. Sound good? (EDITOR’S NOTE: IT’S GLORIOUS!)
Are you interested in giving a summer workshop a try? There are many good workshops out there. But here are the four where you can find me this year:
Unique, intimate workshop in the Shenandoah Valley offering recorder masterclass and mixed-instrument baroque chamber ensembles. Capped enrollment; ideal for more advanced amateur players. Recorder and voice classes are full this year but spots still available for viola da gamba, harpsichord, and violin.
Exceptionally well-run early music and folk workshop in the North Carolina Mountains. I’ve taught many times at this workshop and am always impressed by its friendliness. It’s also a great place to try something new.
It’s my second outing at this longtime Pittsburgh-based workshop. It boasts a devoted following and a number of faculty you won’t catch anywhere else on the circuit.
It’s my first time at this beloved Massachusetts institution!
Hope to see you in the lunch line!