My little daughter spent two weeks at music camp in the town of Narbonne in the south of France.
It was a very, very good camp, so much so that I felt that the piano world ought to know about it.
I say music camp, but it actually isn't called camp, it's called a "stage" which means a seminar. It is quite serious, evidently moreso for adolescents than for the smaller kids. Nonetheless, my 9 year old daughter had 2 piano lessons a day and 2 practice sessions as well. She had to prepare for recitals the 7th day and the last day.
There were around 80 kids, from 6 years old to around 20 or so. There were also a small number of adult participants, including a retired lady of 70 who was there for the second straight year, and who had courses in violin and in piano; she played duets with my daughter at the recital for parents the last day.
If I remember correctly, there were violin, viola, cello, flute, french horn, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, and piano.
Apart from the music professors, who are all conservatory teachers, there were a number of "counselors" who were all former participants in the camp and who were very very helpful with the little ones like my daughter, including helping them to structure their practice time and things like that.
The recital was in a magnificent 15th century hall with superb acoustics.
The recital was done with a great deal of wit and was not one of those recitals where parents sleep except when their own kids play. The 10 or so french horn players dressed up in black suits with sunglasses and did a sort of blues brothers thing. Two young students and two teachers played Ravel's Bolero together on a single violin.
At the end, the entire group played Bizet's "L'ArlesiÃ¨nne", including the piano students who played percussion instruments. For my daughter it was the first time that she could participate in an orchestra and she was obviously thrilled. I consider it very astute that the professors make sure that everyone can participate in the "grand finale". It is a proof that this camp is run by people who keenly understand children and young musicians in general ... including 70 years young.
There are certainly many students outside of France who would benefit by participating in this camp next year. There is surely no shortage of music camps in the States and in other countries, but an experience in another country is always important.
Certainly in the US no student will have the opportunity to play in a 15th century hall.
The camp cost around 650 euros, lodging and classes included.
to see the camp's website, which has a great many photos, including a group photo of each instrumental group.