The Walden School, founded in 1972, is an acclaimed summer music school and festival offering programs that emphasize creative application, specifically through the study of musicianship, improvisation, and composition. In residence on the beautiful campuses of the Dublin School in Dublin, New Hampshire, and Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, the School provides an inspiring retreat-like environment ideal for creative music making. The School’s programs include the Young Musicians Program for musicians ages 9 to 18, the Teacher Training Institute for music educators, and the Creative Musicians Retreat for adult musicians. The School’s Concert Series showcases free public performances by renowned artists and ensembles that work closely with program participants. The Walden School was awarded a Chamber Music America/ASCAP Adventurous Programming Award in 2012, a 2011 New Music Educator Award from the American Music Center (now New Music USA) and was a finalist for a 2011 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. The Walden School is the successor organization to the Junior Conservatory Camp.
Walden’s flagship Young Musicians Program (YMP) provides thorough and creative theoretical training for young musicians ages 9 to 18. The school is deliberately small, and a student to faculty ratio of 4 to 1 ensures that coursework is geared to the individual student, beginner through advanced, and that a creative and supportive musical community is formed and nurtured. During the five-week program, students attend classes in music history, analysis, computer musicianship, jazz and other topics to complement their thorough training in Walden’s core curriculum of musicianship and composition. During weekly composers forums, student improvisations and compositions are performed by faculty, students, and visiting artists and a guest moderator leads discussion about the pieces. The Walden School Concert Series features performances by world-class artists and ensembles that interact closely with students. All students and faculty participate in The Walden School Chorus which meets daily and performs a concert at the end of the session. Dances, swim trips, weekly mountain hikes, and ‘open mic’ nights balance this rigorous musical training and are integral to the Walden experience.
At Walden’s Creative Musicians Retreat (CMR), participants take classes (including courses in The Walden School Musicianship Course), sing in chorus, write music, and improvise. Participants are exposed to a variety of Walden musicianship materials, including acoustics, drills with intervals and triads, resolving structures, rhythms, solfege and harmonic analysis. Classes also include topics in contemporary music, computer music and applied skills (conducting, improvisation and more). Participants have the opportunity to write for and work with a resident ensemble, and everyone participates in two Composers Forums, which provides the opportunity to hear brand new music and discuss it with the performers, composers, visiting artists, faculty and the workshop’s Composer-in-Residence. The Creative Musicians Retreat offers something for anyone wanting to invigorate their musical training, participate in a rich and diverse musical community, and to engage in creative music making, through musicianship, composition, improvisation, choral singing, computer musicianship and more. The program is not designed for the brand-new, novice musician, but it is also not designed exclusively for those with extensive training. The faculty and administration intend to offer a program appealing and worthwhile to a range of participants, across a variety of age groups, skill levels, and interests.
The Walden School Teacher Training Institute (TTI) offers unique professional development opportunities to help music educators sharpen their musicianship skills, enrich their teaching with imaginative activities, and more effectively guide the creative voices of their students. Weekend workshops and weeklong intensives are designed for composers, college professors, public and private school music teachers, and private instructors interested in learning proven methods for introducing or further developing composition and improvisation activities in the classroom or studio. Interactive sessions with master teachers include daily classes in musicianship, computer music, solfege, rhythms, and improvisation and provide participants with innovative ideas and specific teaching tools based upon an original music pedagogy, initially developed by Grace Newsom Cushman, that has had proven success for more than 50 years.