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Thread: What are you looking for out of a music camp?

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    Default What are you looking for out of a music camp?

    Targhee Music Camp is always looking for ways to improve our camp, and our best suggestions have always come from our attendees. So I thought I would ask for some feedback from this forum of very knowledgable people with camp experience, and ask some questions.

    1. What was the favorite part of a music camp that you have attended in the past?

    2. What is most important to you when considering attending a music camp? (class size, instructors, locations, price, etc...)

    3. What was your LEAST favorite part of music camps you have attended in the past?

    4. Do you have any incredible or memorable experiences you will never forget? What were they?


    Targhee Music Camp is a four day music camp held every August in Alta, Wyoming near Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park. This non-profit music camp was founded in 2005 for the purpose of educating adults and children in a community based format in a beautiful location. This summer our camp runs August 5-8 and our band-in-residence is the Mark O'Connor Band. Mandolin instructors this year are Forrest O'Connor, Tom Murphy and Ben Winship. Visit www.targheemusiccamp.com for more information.

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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: What are you looking for out of a music camp?

    I've not been to a music camp yet. Used to ski at Targhee when I lived in Idaho over 30 years ago. One thing I would like is a beautiful natural setting (like Targhee). I would also like to be able to camp there in my Airstream. Close proximity to hiking, biking, water activities would be good so my lovely but non-musical wife could enjoy it too. Plenty of free time for evening campfire jams would be great.

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    Default Re: What are you looking for out of a music camp?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    I've not been to a music camp yet. Used to ski at Targhee when I lived in Idaho over 30 years ago. One thing I would like is a beautiful natural setting (like Targhee). I would also like to be able to camp there in my Airstream. Close proximity to hiking, biking, water activities would be good so my lovely but non-musical wife could enjoy it too. Plenty of free time for evening campfire jams would be great.
    Thanks for the feedback!

    Sounds like you need to look into Targhee Music Camp Mandobart! All of that stuff is there including a place to park your Airstream (dry camping, but it's level) and it is very friendly for the non-musical family member with world class mountain biking, fishing, disc golf, horseback riding, oodles of hikes, and National Parks nearby. We're trying to improve every year, so I appreciate your insight.

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    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: What are you looking for out of a music camp?

    Could we bring along our two little (coyote bait) dogs?

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    Default Re: What are you looking for out of a music camp?

    My main experience with music camps is with the Centrum Fiddle Tunes Workshop, which is practically in my back yard (bicycling distance). I've attended 3 times, but since it's very fiddle-focused and mandolin is somewhat peripheral, I don't go every year (and it's expensive). Depends on who the instructors are.

    I've also attended numerous smaller one or two-day workshops in the area, all fiddle-focused events because my SO is a fiddler and I get to hang out as the (usually) only mandolin player in the group.

    Favorite part of a music camp: Being immersed in a group of amateurs and pros who care about the same music I do, in a relaxed "no pressure" atmosphere.

    Most important to me when attending a camp:

    1. Class size. I like small classes, say a dozen people plus instructor. Past a certain point, I don't think large classes work well. They limit individual interaction with the instructor, and only the most outspoken students or those sitting in the front row benefit.

    2. The second thing is instructors who focus on technique and style, not just teaching a few new tunes. It's nice to bring home a few tunes from the camp, but that's not why I go there and spend the money. I want to learn from masters of a style what the essential elements of that style are. That might necessarily include learning a new tune, but I've been to classes where it's basically just "here's how this one goes." I can get that from an instructional DVD or free online videos.

    3. The food has to be good, especially if you're stuck in one place with no other options!

    The least favorite thing at a camp? Classes too large, and lousy food.

    Memorable experiences: My two favorite memories of Fiddle Tunes are a workshop by Irish guitarist John Doyle (with Liz Carroll occasionally sitting in), and a workshop and band lab led by Tim O'Brien. The band lab was great -- he had us working up tune sets that we played for a Thursday night dance with a caller, and then a concert performance for the other attendees on Saturday. The "band lab" concept is a fun way to combine exposure to music styles with actual performance.

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    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Re: What are you looking for out of a music camp?

    I will be attending my first camp this summer (Brian Oberlin's River Of The West camp), and I'll respond then.

    The three things foldedpath mentions above seem like key items, though. I can learn tunes in a variety of ways, but technique and style are invaluable.

    And good food...

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    Default Re: What are you looking for out of a music camp?

    I like:
    Good written materials from top flight instructors
    Instructor interaction outside of class
    Good jamming opportunities, with and without instructors
    Good food
    The usual creature comforts
    Play it like you mean it.

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    Default Re: What are you looking for out of a music camp?

    I prefer workshops where instructors teach by ear....and hand out tab at the end of the class. Scott Nygaard is a master of this teaching method. It keeps students attention up instead of having lots of conversations during class.
    Great class spaces for every class. Great and many jamming spots....keeps jams small and moderate volume. & good food and accommodation. Also.....instructors who come out and jam with students. Keith Yoder, Steve Roy & John Reischman are great examples.

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    Default Re: What are you looking for out of a music camp?

    I just signed up for my first mandolin camp. I haven't looked hard, but the few I had looked at before pretty much left you on your own if you didn't want to, well, CAMP. For me, a bunkhouse or a dorm or a room shared with other mando nuts is fine as long as everybody does their picking and drinking elsewhere. But I do want a room and a bed and a toilet with a little silver handle on it somewhere close. And I don't have or want an RV or camper trailer.

    So there you go - important enough for me that it is a deal breaker.
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    Default Re: What are you looking for out of a music camp?

    Good balance of classes, jam time, and some instructor concerts.
    Food and lodging included.

    Lodging can be shared dorm with a bath, and AC if it is in a warm environment. Nothing worse than jamming late and trying to grab a few hours in a sweat box before another full day of classes.

    Quality food, it doesn't have to be gourmet.

    Classrooms that are actual rooms that encourage learning, not improvised areas where you can cram 10-15 students.

    Some camps try to cram in so much over two and a half days, and leave little to no time to explore the campus or town.
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    Default Re: What are you looking for out of a music camp?

    Is there a bar and, if so. opening and closing times.

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    Default Re: What are you looking for out of a music camp?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
    Could we bring along our two little (coyote bait) dogs?
    Coyote bait, lol. Up there they can also be referred to as mountain lion bait.

    You will have to check with Grand Targhee Resort, but I'm pretty sure it is dog friendly as long as they are hanging out in your Airstream. A great place to take the dogs on a stroll regardless.

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    Default Re: What are you looking for out of a music camp?

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    My main experience with music camps is with the Centrum Fiddle Tunes Workshop, which is practically in my back yard (bicycling distance). I've attended 3 times, but since it's very fiddle-focused and mandolin is somewhat peripheral, I don't go every year (and it's expensive). Depends on who the instructors are.

    I've also attended numerous smaller one or two-day workshops in the area, all fiddle-focused events because my SO is a fiddler and I get to hang out as the (usually) only mandolin player in the group.

    Favorite part of a music camp: Being immersed in a group of amateurs and pros who care about the same music I do, in a relaxed "no pressure" atmosphere.

    Most important to me when attending a camp:

    1. Class size. I like small classes, say a dozen people plus instructor. Past a certain point, I don't think large classes work well. They limit individual interaction with the instructor, and only the most outspoken students or those sitting in the front row benefit.

    2. The second thing is instructors who focus on technique and style, not just teaching a few new tunes. It's nice to bring home a few tunes from the camp, but that's not why I go there and spend the money. I want to learn from masters of a style what the essential elements of that style are. That might necessarily include learning a new tune, but I've been to classes where it's basically just "here's how this one goes." I can get that from an instructional DVD or free online videos.

    3. The food has to be good, especially if you're stuck in one place with no other options!

    The least favorite thing at a camp? Classes too large, and lousy food.

    Memorable experiences: My two favorite memories of Fiddle Tunes are a workshop by Irish guitarist John Doyle (with Liz Carroll occasionally sitting in), and a workshop and band lab led by Tim O'Brien. The band lab was great -- he had us working up tune sets that we played for a Thursday night dance with a caller, and then a concert performance for the other attendees on Saturday. The "band lab" concept is a fun way to combine exposure to music styles with actual performance.
    Good food! That's always one that seems to be mentioned. It's true though, if you are stuck somewhere that is isolated and you have sub-par food, that can make for one bad experience.

    We are lucky at Targhee Music Camp because we have GREAT food due to the location at a ski resort that prides itself on good food with a professional kitchen and staff and the ability to serve large groups of folks. The nice part is that this is all included in a meal plan if you choose to purchase (veggie, vegan, other options available).

    Also, one thing we found out in the early days of the camp is that having coffee and water available at all times is a must! Some of those late night jams can get pretty late and it's always good to have a little pick me up you can go to during the day.

    The band lab concept is a good one too. Although the dance with a caller is a little different, we do a similar thing in that we have a "band scramble" where folks are matched up in small groups by instruments and get to perform a few songs at "The Trap Bar and Grill" on the Wednesday night during camp. It's a great way for folks to make new friends and perform (sometimes on stage for the first time) in front of people in a no-pressure, supportive environment. However, a dance with a caller sounds like great fun!

    Class size is always an important one for folks too. I think that's helps to have lots of workshops and other activities during camp so there is lots of opportunity for learning from the vast array of talented instructors. Generally I think it's also important for the instructors to have a plan for how they are going to structure their primary classes for the four days. If you are just learning how somebody plays a song, that's not really helping you as a player as much as someone that is showing you WHY they are playing those notes and HOW they got there.

    Great feedback, thanks!

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    Default Re: What are you looking for out of a music camp?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Winn View Post
    I will be attending my first camp this summer (Brian Oberlin's River Of The West camp), and I'll respond then.

    The three things foldedpath mentions above seem like key items, though. I can learn tunes in a variety of ways, but technique and style are invaluable.

    And good food...
    Heard great things about the River of the West Camp...have a great time and I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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    Default Re: What are you looking for out of a music camp?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    I like:
    Good written materials from top flight instructors
    Instructor interaction outside of class
    Good jamming opportunities, with and without instructors
    Good food
    The usual creature comforts
    Sounds like a lot of the important items right there. Thanks for the feedback!

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    Default Re: What are you looking for out of a music camp?

    I attended Music Camp North 4 years ago when I was only 6 months into playing the mandolin. I've also attended Guitar Camps at Augusta a couple of decades ago.

    The things I liked and disliked have already been mentioned, but I'll repeat them anyway.

    Food, invariably terrible. The classes are expensive, and yet, nobody involved in putting them together is making big money. MCN has alot of great instructors who have travel long distances and I imagine it can be hard to recruit them. I bet they barely break even. We're lucky that they love the music and sharing it. So I consider lousy food a small price to pay. If a camp provided good stuff then they've have to charge even more.

    Class size. I guess this has more to do with making sure everyone in the class is at about the same level. My problem has always been the inevitable noodlers who aren't listening to the instructor and annoying everyone around them. Because I'm a bit of a jerk, I have no problem telling a neighbor to knock it off. Most people won't go there and suffer in silence. It's always great when an instructor keeps the noodlers in line.

    Someone mentioned booze. I'm a drinker, but I think MCN's policy of no alcohol on the premise is absolutely correct. It's about the music. The one and only time I went to Grey Fox, it was ruined because of a bunch of drunken jerks, who as far as I could tell, weren't even musicians.

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    Default Re: What are you looking for out of a music camp?

    Quote Originally Posted by doc holiday View Post
    I prefer workshops where instructors teach by ear....and hand out tab at the end of the class. Scott Nygaard is a master of this teaching method. It keeps students attention up instead of having lots of conversations during class.
    Great class spaces for every class. Great and many jamming spots....keeps jams small and moderate volume. & good food and accommodation. Also.....instructors who come out and jam with students. Keith Yoder, Steve Roy & John Reischman are great examples.
    I love it when the instructors come and jam. It really makes a memorable experience for the attendees and it sure is a lot of fun to get a chance to pick with them. I agree that class spaces are important too, because it's good to have privacy and no interruptions from others when trying to learn. As always, jamming, jamming, jamming....

    Thanks for your thoughts!

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    Default Re: What are you looking for out of a music camp?

    I've attended two: Butch Baldassari's and Alan Bibey's. Both were, are managed well - structured classes, targeted materials, noodling not allowed, they suffer(ed) no fools. Food, I do my own, so not an issue there, for me. Alan's has the right mix of classes, jamming - with and without the pros.

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    Default Re: What are you looking for out of a music camp?

    Quote Originally Posted by HonketyHank View Post
    I just signed up for my first mandolin camp. I haven't looked hard, but the few I had looked at before pretty much left you on your own if you didn't want to, well, CAMP. For me, a bunkhouse or a dorm or a room shared with other mando nuts is fine as long as everybody does their picking and drinking elsewhere. But I do want a room and a bed and a toilet with a little silver handle on it somewhere close. And I don't have or want an RV or camper trailer.

    So there you go - important enough for me that it is a deal breaker.
    It's important to be comfortable! If you are going to spend the money and get the most out of your camp experience, it's always nice to have the option of a hotel room you can come back to if you want to chill out, take a shower, check emails (noooooo!!!!) and generally stay in touch with world. Some people come to camp to get away from all of that, but not everyone. Options are a good thing and it's always nice to know you have a space to get away from everyone if you need to. Targhee Music Camp is great in this way because it's located at a ski resort, so you can have a nice room, bring your RV, or just Camp under the stars. There is also designated jam areas for folks who don't want jamming in their ears all night while trying to sleep. Great point!

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    Default Re: What are you looking for out of a music camp?

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanN View Post
    I've attended two: Butch Baldassari's and Alan Bibey's. Both were, are managed well - structured classes, targeted materials, noodling not allowed, they suffer(ed) no fools. Food, I do my own, so not an issue there, for me. Alan's has the right mix of classes, jamming - with and without the pros.
    Thanks for the reply. The mix of classes and jamming is crucial to a good experience, and sometimes it's hard to figure out what works best. It seems like if attendees get enough free time, they can find their own jamming situations to augment their experience.

    Thanks for the feedback.
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    Default Re: What are you looking for out of a music camp?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Leonard View Post
    Good balance of classes, jam time, and some instructor concerts.
    Food and lodging included.

    Lodging can be shared dorm with a bath, and AC if it is in a warm environment. Nothing worse than jamming late and trying to grab a few hours in a sweat box before another full day of classes.

    Quality food, it doesn't have to be gourmet.

    Classrooms that are actual rooms that encourage learning, not improvised areas where you can cram 10-15 students.

    Some camps try to cram in so much over two and a half days, and leave little to no time to explore the campus or town.
    Great points Gary. I think it's important to have offer enough classes, but not overwhelm students (or instructors) with going from classes to workshops with no downtime. Some students don't want to miss anything, so it's important there is some scheduled time to refresh and recharge before filling up the brain with more info!

    Targhee Music Camp is located not in a college town, but at a ski resort in the Tetons so there is an amazing abundance of activities (hiking, biking, fishing, rafting, horseback riding, etc...) and a lot of campers like to take an afternoon and explore these amazing things. It recharges the soul and gets your mind right for the next task, so ample free time is a must. Thanks for your thoughts!

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    Default Re: What are you looking for out of a music camp?

    Quote Originally Posted by maudlin mandolin View Post
    Is there a bar and, if so. opening and closing times.
    Hah! Great reply. It seems like this really depends on where your music camp is located and if alcohol is allowed on not.

    For Targhee Music Camp, we have "The Trap Bar and Grill" which is the located at the base of mountain at Grand Targhee Resort. There is a full bar/restaurant with a great stage where artists perform during ski season and the Grand Targhee Bluegrass Festival late night acts.

    Our instructors hold concerts there on the Monday and Tuesday night of camp (for many the highlight of the camp), and the student band scramble is held there on the Wednesday evening. It's very intimate, sound is top notch, has a full bar and generally things get going around 7pm and last until 11pm. Here are some pictures of performances from past camps:

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    www.targheemusiccamp.com

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    Default Re: What are you looking for out of a music camp?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim_G View Post
    I attended Music Camp North 4 years ago when I was only 6 months into playing the mandolin. I've also attended Guitar Camps at Augusta a couple of decades ago.

    The things I liked and disliked have already been mentioned, but I'll repeat them anyway.

    Food, invariably terrible. The classes are expensive, and yet, nobody involved in putting them together is making big money. MCN has alot of great instructors who have travel long distances and I imagine it can be hard to recruit them. I bet they barely break even. We're lucky that they love the music and sharing it. So I consider lousy food a small price to pay. If a camp provided good stuff then they've have to charge even more.

    Class size. I guess this has more to do with making sure everyone in the class is at about the same level. My problem has always been the inevitable noodlers who aren't listening to the instructor and annoying everyone around them. Because I'm a bit of a jerk, I have no problem telling a neighbor to knock it off. Most people won't go there and suffer in silence. It's always great when an instructor keeps the noodlers in line.

    Someone mentioned booze. I'm a drinker, but I think MCN's policy of no alcohol on the premise is absolutely correct. It's about the music. The one and only time I went to Grey Fox, it was ruined because of a bunch of drunken jerks, who as far as I could tell, weren't even musicians.
    Jim, these are great points that are generally overlooked when thinking about a music camp. It does cost money to get high quality artists, good food, nice accommodations and make the experience great for everyone. It's definitely a labor of love. You also want to make it affordable for folks so they can actually have the ability to attend the camp (students are pretty crucial to the survival of a camp.)

    I'm not sure what other camps do, but in an effort not to cut corners and make the camp the greatest experience it can be (as well as sustainable), we created the Targhee Music Foundation (www.targheemusicfoundation.org) about 5 years ago. This is a Wyoming non-profit organization with the sole purpose of supporting Targhee Music Camp through fundraising.

    We were relying heavily on volunteer hours and the people involved in the camp needed to be compensated fairly. We also provide scholarship money every year that anyone can apply to receive (www.targheemusiccamp.com/scholarships/). Therefore the only way we could present the high quality camp, as well as make it sustainable for everyone involved, was to start a vehicle for fundraising.

    I don't know how other camps manage, but for the first 9 years of the camp it was tough making ends meet every year. However this experience was special and we needed to find a way to make it happen.

    By the way we offer a meal plan and the food is great (no joke), and there is a bar where folks can drink if they would like. There is plenty of escape places for non-drinkers and the focus during the week is entirely on the music. Although fun is had by all, it's focused on playing, jamming and learning.

    You also bring up a good point about class levels. This can be a big challenge for camps, especially if you have only one instructor teaching a particular instrument. You also have campers who may place themselves in a class level that is too high or too low for their abilities. These are generally worked out during the first morning of primary classes if it looks like there is going to be an issue, but this is also countered in a number of ways by offering a wide range of workshops so folks have lots of opportunity to learn.

    I love the "Because I'm a bit of a jerk, I have no problem telling a neighbor to knock it off..." comment, lol. However you make a good point that the focus of camp is to learn and the classes are to be taken seriously. Trust me, there are plenty of opportunities for fun, but we are there to learn. Thanks for the feedback.

    A picture of the food.
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    An example of our fundraising efforts. Fins and Fiddles Fundraiser held the Saturday before camp at the Knotty Pine in Victor, Idaho.
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  38. #24
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    Default Re: What are you looking for out of a music camp?

    I attended the Greater Yellowstone Music Camp at Targhee some years back, when Mike Dowling and his wife were running it. Is Mike still involved, do you know, or still in the area?
    "I don't want to get technical or anything, but according to chemistry, alcohol actually IS a solution."

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