Precollege students can cultivate creativity in these summer arts classes

A young woman with pink hair smiles as she points camera toward the viewer

With its longer days and school-free schedule, summer offers the perfect opportunity for young learners to explore interests at a more leisurely pace, without the stress of high-stakes exams or requirements to be fulfilled.

Whether students are interested in composing a song, taking photographs or exploring a new style of writing, UW–Madison’s Badger Precollege is here to help rekindle imagination with a range of online and in-person summer arts classes for elementary, middle and high school students — all taught by practicing artists and educators.

Below, five instructors talk about the classes they’ll be teaching this summer. If you’re inspired to register, there’s still time to sign up!

Music Production

Online | July 26–28 | For students finishing grades 9–12

Music production is offered as part of SMC in Focus, a new online intensive combining the study of art, technology and society in a dynamic music environment. This year’s SMC in Focus theme is “Music Production Through STEAM,” which introduces students to music production tools, connecting these skills to an examination of the purpose of music and how they can use their individual creativity for social justice.

Audrey Martinovich sits surrounded by music production equipment in a studio
Audrey Martinovich

“Music production is a blend of art and science and in this course, we’ll look at the science of sound as well as the creative choices to take your music to the next level. Whether you’re a musician or an aspiring music producer, you’ll learn about techniques like programming MIDI, creating your own samples, adding reverb, EQ, compression and so much more. This class is great for empowering you to cultivate your unique sound and feel confident in communicating your needs in the recording studio.”

— Audrey Martinovich, co-owner and recording engineering, Audio for the Arts


Imaging Self: Photography and the Mediated Image

In person | June 19–July 1 | For students finishing grades 9–12

Imaging Self is a program within Badger Summer Scholars that encourages students to learn about themselves through artistic expression, work with practicing artists and faculty and get to know UW–Madison. Photography and the Mediated Image asks students to reflect on identity through place, culture and popular media.

Annmarie Suglio sits in front of work of art depicting two figures on a pier with ocean in background
Annmarie Suglio

“I am thrilled to teach Imaging Self: Photography and the Mediated Image. The self-portrait is very familiar to younger generations through their upbringing of social media. In this class you will learn the history of portraiture and self-portraiture through a spectrum of mediums. We will discuss the camera’s role in portraiture and analyze the role of photography in shaping identity of self and others. You will leave the class with an understanding of visual design elements and editing software as well as how to convey ideas through emotional responses to color and light. This class is perfect for building your art portfolio and preparing for success in any college-level art course.”

Annmarie Suglio, MFA candidate and photography instructor, UW–Madison


Composition and Arranging

In person | June 26–July 1 | For students finishing grades 9–12

Offered during the senior session of UW–Madison’s celebrated Summer Music Clinic, Composition and Arranging teaches students how to compose their own music and arrange the music of others for a variety of ensembles.

Chris Thomas
Chris Thomas

“Composition and arranging explore the fundamental forces of music (pitch, rhythm, melody, harmony, orchestration), turning them into powerful tools for your creative process. We will learn about melody construction, harmonic motion, use of instrumentation and color and how a composer can invent their own processes for music creation. Most importantly, we will keep the focus on finding your unique voice as a composer.”

— Chris Thomas, film, television & theme park composer, Chris Thomas Music


Writing, Creatively

In person | July 24–Aug. 6 | For students finishing grades 6–8

Designed for avid readers and writers, this accelerated STEP class invites middle schoolers to explore their creativity and discover what it takes to be a compelling writer.

Lindsey Hoel-Neds
Lindsey Hoel-Neds

Writing, Creatively is an amazing opportunity for you to express yourself and bring your unique writer’s voice to the forefront. You’ll have the opportunity to explore creative writing through the lens of mindfulness, free expression and finding the inner voice we so often squash with our internal and external critics. You’ll take writing field trips around campus to lots of inspiring locations and be empowered to work through the writing process in a collaborative community of your peers. My favorite part of this class over the years has been those lightbulb moments, those breakthroughs where students merge so many elements of who they are into a piece of writing or a new experience!”

— Lindsey Hoel-Neds, teaching artist and theatrical “Jill-of-all-trades”


Music, Art & Technology: Explore the World Around You

Online | Tuesdays & Thursdays, June 28–July 28 | For students finishing grades 9–12

Offered through Badger Precollege Online, this virtual course provides high school students the opportunity to explore and build connections between the arts and the environment, both individually and as part of a community.

Jamie Henke
Jamie Henke

“Climate change and the environment are very important issues for all of humanity but particularly young people. Music, Art & Technology: Explore the World Around You is a chance to translate the science of climate change into human experience through art and music. I’m really looking forward to two class activities: Creating art in nature using objects we find in the environment, and learning how to create a rap verse about an environmental issue that is important you and combining those verses into a class rap. We will also learn about the wonderful changes already happening that are having a positive impact on the climate.”

— Jamie Henke, distinguished faculty associate, Division of Continuing Studies and Mead Witter School of Music, UW–Madison


To learn more about these and other summer arts programs for elementary, middle and high school students, visit the Badger Precollege website or email us at info@precollege.wisc.edu.