Did you know that there are over 100 jazz summer camps held in the US every year? Well I didn’t know either! There are certainly many summer programs at universities and conservatories, but you can also spend an immersive week at many jazz camps like you would at any other type of summer camp for kids and teens.
One such camp is Jazz Lab, held at The Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, Massachusetts. Trombonist Tim Lienhard is the co-founder and executive director of Jazz Lab, and along with pianist and artistic director Henrique Eisenmann they have created something very special where kids ages 13 to 19 can come together and truly explore what it is to be a creative musician. Henrique’s bio reads:
“Drawing inspiration from different world genres, chants, voices, poems and animal sounds, Henrique Eisenmann is changing the paradigm of contemporary improvisation, creating an original musical universe that is powerfully inventive, authentic and accessible to anyone.”
I happened to witness first hand Henrique’s mastery of the creative process when I attended his faculty concert at Jazz Lab 2022, as well as through his teaching and coaching my then 13yo son who is a jazz singer. The environment was so inspiring for these students, they were given the feeling that they could do no wrong, resulting in their minds being wide open to try whatever was put in front of them. Check out what the 2022 campers had to say at the end of the week:
My own son’s words about Jazz Lab:
“Fun, enthusiastic and positive atmosphere, teachers are very inspiring and really love their work. Great place to connect with other people who love jazz and a great place to have a good time. People there really care.”
Two of Jazz Lab’s founding faculty members are New England Conservatory’s College Jazz Chair Ken Schaphorst, and Preparatory School Jazz Chair David Zoffer. Both have been teaching high school and college aged students jazz for decades, and David had this to say about his experience:
“In my decades of teaching, performing, composing and arranging, Jazz Lab is one of the things I am most proud to be associated with, not just because of the inspiring high level music and instruction, but because of the vibe of the Jazz Lab culture.”
Jazz Lab 2023 will be held from June 25 – July 1 and applications are open through June 15. You can opt for room and board for $800, and if you are a day student they offer just the meal plan for $275 which covers lunch and dinner for the week.
We will be returning to Jazz Lab this summer for sure, my son can’t wait, but if you don’t live in the New England area and you don’t want to travel far to attend a jazz camp check out the Downbeat Magazine’s list of jazz camps in the US to see if there is one near you. Although this catalog is for 2022 you can still find all the available options around the country as well as find their respective websites for more information.