Summer Music Clinic celebrates 90 years of music and memory making

six bass students standing with their instruments and teacher in front of university building

In 1929, in the midst of a depression and with music education in its infancy, a few forward-thinking music educators held the first Summer Music Clinic at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Ninety years later—through a World War, a long line of prestigious music instructors, campus riots, and even a polio epidemic—Summer Music Clinic continues to strike a beautiful chord.

“The dedication of the leadership and staff over the years to keep this camp running to the highest quality possible is overwhelming,” said Elizabeth Snodgrass, Summer Music Clinic director. “Many people have a personal attachment to the program, and they’re motivated to keep the camp’s reputation as one of the best ways for a middle and high school musician to spend a summer in Wisconsin.”

Over 90 years, the Clinic has hosted nearly 90,000 students. Enjoy a walk down memory lane with our Summer Music Clinic historical photograph gallery, below.

Music, friendship, fun

Hundreds of middle and high school musicians work with experienced educators from around the country at Summer Music Clinic on the UW–Madison campus. Students in band, chorus, jazz ensemble, musical theater, and orchestra engage with peers from other communities, participating in classes, performances, and activities.

“Summer Music Clinic is a great way for students to get a taste of college life on campus,” Snodgrass said.

In 2019, the Junior Session, for grades 6-8, is June 16-22. The Senior Session, for grades 9-12, is June 23-28. In both sessions, campers will experience large-group learning with conductors and small-group learning led by specialists. Summer Music Clinic also employs college-age counselors to provide a caring support system, ensuring that life on campus is fun, welcoming, and safe.

“One of the things we hear students say all the time is ‘This was the best part of my summer’ or ‘This is what I look forward to most every summer,’ and I think this is due to a near-perfect balance of work and play,” Snodgrass said.

Along with intensive study, the Summer Music Clinic allows plenty of time for socializing with creative indoor and outdoor activities. Evenings include concerts performed by guest artists, faculty members, and fellow students. Everyone’s hard work is shared and celebrated at the end of the week with concerts for family and friends.

Tuition waiver

In 1937, the UW–Madison Board of Regents created scholarship tuition awards for 10 outstanding young musicians who attended Summer Music Clinic. At that time, tuition remission was $27.50 per semester. Costs may have risen, but the tradition continues as Music Clinic offers its Tuition Remission Award Program.

This program recognizes exceptional musical talent by awarding 10 students a tuition-free undergraduate college education at UW–Madison or UW-Milwaukee. More than 500 students have received some benefit or tuition remission since the program started.

Clinic registrants who are completing their junior year at a Wisconsin high school, are permanent legal residents of Wisconsin, and attending the Summer Music Clinic in 2019 are eligible to audition for the Tuition Remission program. Students may audition in voice or on a brass, woodwind, percussion, or string instrument.

“Music really has a way of uniting people, and Summer Music Clinic is a place of belonging for kids and adults who love making music,” said Snodgrass. “People are happy here, and they want to keep coming back!”

To learn more and register see the Summer Music Clinic website, email SMC@wisc.edu, or call 608-263-2242.


90 years of Summer Music Clinic

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