University of Wisconsin–Madison

High schooler makes music and friends at Summer Music Clinic

Summer Music Clinic students playing instruments

Ally Hansen is a 15-year-old from Mount Horeb, Wis. She’s played the violin, viola, and trombone but now primarily plays the tuba and euphonium. This was her third year participating in the University of Wisconsin–Madison Summer Music Clinic.

Summer Music Clinic
Ally Hansen likes Summer Music Clinic so much, she’s returned for three years.

In 2019, Summer Music Clinic will enter its 90th year of bringing young musicians together for a week of playing music and making friends on the UW–Madison campus.

Students in band, chorus, jazz ensemble, musical theatre, and orchestra have a chance to expand their musical horizons by working with experienced educators from around the country, rehearsing and performing in ensembles with peers from other communities, and participating in classes and activities that sharpen existing skills or open the door to new topics.

Evenings include concerts performed by guest artists, faculty members, and fellow students. The camp ends with concerts for family and friends.

As Ally found, educators and counselors make the camp special. Instructors bring their own unique style of teaching and individual musical experiences to their classes, resulting in well-rounded opportunities for students. College-aged supervisors ensure campus life is fun and safe for all who attend, resulting in a welcoming and inclusive community.

Ally’s Story

I am in the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra (WYSO), and they always advertise the Summer Music Clinic. A lot of people I knew from WYSO were doing it, and they really liked it. I decided to try the camp, and now I’ve done it three years!

The days at camp are pretty full, and fun. For most of the day, you have music-related classes and activities that you get to choose from. For example, I took a class that helped me with audition techniques, and I like mindset-related things. They can apply to more than just music. Then we have band, orchestra, and choir ensembles. Each night we have a concert, and they bring in different groups. I really enjoyed those performances. We also just had a lot of other extra activities like arts and crafts or walking down to the Capitol Square for Concerts on the Square.

I have played a lot of big orchestral pieces at camp, and that’s really good to put on your college application. But you also get to work with the faculty from UW and elsewhere. I really like working with different conductors. This year they brought in someone from Venezuela, and that was super cool because she had a different take on the music.

Ally Hansen playing tuba
Ally Hansen playing her tuba at Summer Music Clinic.

They also have an honors recital. I have been in that twice and enjoyed that experience. You don’t really get to play in a big hall like Mills Hall so often in front of a lot of people, so that was cool.

The counselors were the best that I have had at any camp. Every day you come back they just want to know how your day was, they want to hear about what you are playing or what you are going to do. They really care. If there is somebody who is homesick, they are helpful. And they are just fun people!

You really get to know the other students. You do activities each night with people in your dorm. During the day, you are with different people for each class so you get to know a lot of people as opposed to just the people in your instrument group, which seems like what’s happened at other camps I have been to. I am a brass player and some of them are violin players so I usually don’t get to talk to them since we sit so far away from each other in the orchestra. I bonded with people and now I still get to see some of them every weekend for WYSO, so it is really nice to have more connections there.

I would recommend this camp because it has a nice balance between music and just having a fun summer!

The 2019 Summer Music Clinic sessions are June 16-22 for junior campers and June 23-28 for senior campers. For more information, see the Summer Music Clinic website, email smc@wisc.edu, or call 608-263-2242.