Are All All State Camps Created Equal?

If you’ve been reading our posts for long at all, you’ve probably caught on to, in our opinion, the two key elements to getting ahead in All State: 1) taking private voice lessons, and 2) attending a preparation camp. This brings up a question we get from parents all the time: “Does it really matter what camp I sign my student up for?”

I’ll answer it right at the top for those of you in a rush: No, All State camps are not necessarily created “equal” as in, they are not all the same…but it all really depends on what you personally want to get out of your camp experience.

We see 60+ students through the All State process every year, and each year they represent a sampling of up to 10 different camps throughout the state. We always ask what the experience was like and file that way so we can advise our students in the future. So here are the things that we would like you to assess when searching for the camp that’s a perfect fit for you.

What would the IDEAL camp look like?

First, understand where we are coming from: Austin and I want to make music in lessons. We want kids to come in with notes learned so we can tweak musicality. There is nothing more boring than teaching a kid notes when they have camps and sectionals and tracks to do that for us. Yes, we know that fun is definitely an important part of learning, but we are kind of misers like that….it’ll be fun when you get to perform the music with the Region or All State choir! So if we were to build the “Disneyland” of All State prep camps, we are obviously looking for the one that teaches the notes and rhythms better than the rest. It would look something like this:

  • Four day camp, rehearsals morning and night, even after dinner some nights.
  • Optional evening social activities, students have the option to rest instead.
  • Emphasis on healthy maintenance of voice, hydration and rest throughout the day.
  • At a University where students can immerse themselves in the music without distraction, experience closeness and camaraderie with their peers and explore life on a college campus.
  • Majority of time spent in sectionals – mixed rehearsals only in later days with focus on learning how individual vocal lines interact with others, rather than blending, shaping, etc.
  • Adequate time and help given to write solfege into music.
  • EVERY SINGLE piece of music given at least one hour of rehearsal in sectional, notes and rhythms thoroughly covered (even if only on solfege).
  • Language and diction taught by a skilled and qualified diction coach. Resources distributed for further study.
  • Section Leaders with current experience in getting kids into the All State choir.
  • Electives having to do with sight singing, practice techniques, auditioning, and vocal health.
  • Final casual performance in the form of an open rehearsal, no pressure to perform a polished final piece with language, or combine with soloists, instruments, etc.

Now, we don’t have to agree about everything! Here are some other priorities that students or parents may have when considering a camp:

  • Quality of dorm/food
  • Exploration of the college campus or town
  • Recruitment by college faculty
  • Polished final performance led by University choral director
  • Social activities and bonding with other singers
  • Voice lessons
  • Electives that cover different styles or aspects of music or singing

We won’t tell you what your priorities should be! And there is definitely value in each of these elements. Certainly, we feel that you should enjoy some of your childhood and make room for fun activities during the summer…so maybe there’s a case for having some fun and relaxation at camp, too :).

How do I learn about the differences between camps?

  • Ask your friends! They’ll be more honest than a shiny poster 🙂
  • Do some research online – we’ve got links to tons of camps HERE. Pay attention to what the camp says about itself. For example: “Meet new people and sing beautiful music on the beach!” versus “Come learn the All State music in this intensive four-day camp.”
  • Talk to your choir director or voice teacher – and feel free to message us directly if you have questions!

That’s all for today – Happy Hunting!


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