All your questions, answered.

Q: What is the size of Walden’s student body? What are the ages of the students?
A: Walden maintains an intentionally small student body of approximately 55 students, between the ages of 9 and 18. Students who have not reached their 12th birthday prior to July 1 can participate in the abbreviated, 3-week program (June 30-July 22). Students who have entered college or university, regardless of age, are no longer eligible to participate as students in our Young Musicians Program but may be excellent candidates for Walden’s Creative Musicians Retreat.

Q: Who are your students and applicants?
A: Walden students come from all over the world. In 2017, our students came from 13 states, Canada, China, Mexico, Latvia, Venezuela, and India. 17% of students came from outside of the U.S., and 25% were students of color from the United States.

Successful applicants are musicians with an imaginative spirit and a desire to create – using music as the medium. Previous improvisation or composition experience is valued, although not necessary. Applicants who already receive quality vocal and/or instrumental training and demonstrate creativity in other pursuits (language arts, dance, theater, visual arts) are regarded highly in the admissions process and are often excellent matches for Walden’s unique program. Generally, we seek students who have studied an instrument privately and/or in a school setting for at least one year.

Q: Does the Walden School offer financial aid?
A: Yes. Approximately 35-40% of our student body receives need-based financial aid each summer. In 2017, awards ranged from 25%-90% of tuition, room & board. Walden’s financial aid budget is limited, and we encourage you to apply for financial aid as soon as possible – no later than March 15, 2018. You will need your completed 2017 federal tax return in order to apply.

Q: Do students attend The Walden School for more than one summer?
A: Yes, frequently they do. The average tenure at Walden is three to four summers, but some students return for six, seven or even more summers. A typical Walden summer has approximately 50-60% returning students and 40-50% new students.

Q: Walden’s summer camp is five weeks. Do students thrive away from home for that long?
A: Yes! The Walden School intentionally strives to establish a safe, strong, and supportive community, and we find that our students form close and lasting friendships that transcend the boundaries of age. The Walden School hires 12-14 teaching faculty and 5-7 staff members each summer-all of whom, in addition to program director Seth Brenzel, are in residence in New Hampshire throughout the summer program. With a student-to-adult ratio smaller than 3:1, each student receives unparalleled personal attention.

Q: Where do students live?
A: Walden students are housed in the dormitories of our host campus, the Dublin School. They are grouped according to age and gender, and faculty and staff members live in their own private rooms in the dormitories. Each student has at least one roommate. The dormitories range in size, housing anywhere from 7 to 22 students, plus a minimum of two members of the faculty and staff.

Q: What are the dining services like?
A: The entire school community gathers three times a day in the dining hall of the Dublin School, which overlooks Crotched Mountain and the stunning valley below. The Walden School employs excellent chefs who work year-round for Dublin School, and meals are served buffet style with varied and ample selections. There are vegetarian options available and a full salad bar is included at lunch and dinner. Specific dietary restrictions may be accommodated – please inquire.

Q: Who are Walden’s faculty members?
A: Members of Walden’s faculty represent a broad range of music and teaching experience. They are excellent composers, performers, and educators. Many of our faculty members were students at Walden before going on to study at some of the finest colleges and universities in the country. In addition to classroom and private instruction, Walden faculty members perform, coach, and conduct student works throughout the summer session, affirming through example an integrated approach toward music making and original composition. All faculty members have at least completed a bachelor’s degree in music, and many have completed masters or doctorate degrees from leading universities and conservatories. Meet our faculty and artists →

Q: Who provides supervision of the students when they are not in class?
A: It is Walden’s philosophy that by participating in all levels of community life, faculty members, staff, and students together create an environment where close, respectful relationships can develop and creativity may flourish. Therefore, in addition to teaching, our faculty members assist full-time adult staff members in overseeing the non-academic aspects of our program. This includes living in their own, private rooms in the students’ dormitories, eating meals together, supervising free time outside of class or other group activities, and participating in various school-wide recreational activities.

Q: What courses does the Walden School offer?
A: Students take three classes and chorus. Each student is enrolled in musicianship (Walden’s unique, activity-based approach to theory and aural skills), composition and one enrichment course, which change each summer depending on the needs of the student body and the passions of our faculty. Walden’s Leadership Team places students into classes in the spring, and accurate records are kept from year to year so that over time students receive a balanced course of study at Walden over the course of multiple summers. Classes run from 9:15 am until 11:45 am, Monday through Friday, followed by a 45-minute choral rehearsal.

Q: What do the students do when they are not in class?
A: On weekdays, right after lunch, the entire Walden community has a rest period – a quiet time for relaxation, reading, letter writing, etc. Following this time the students rotate through 45-minute practice periods, and faculty often offer one-on-one tutoring or composition lessons. During the late afternoons Walden’s staff offer recreational activities. These include refreshing swimming trips to nearby Dublin Lake and games such as ultimate Frisbee, capture the flag, croquet, or cards. On Saturday, the entire community hikes a nearby mountain and attends a dance in the evening. The academic program is enriched by The Walden School Concert Series on Friday evenings, workshops offered by visiting guest artists, and weekly Composers Forums. Once a week, the community gathers for an ‘open mic’ event. At this event, students, faculty, and staff can perform for one another in a casual setting – humorous skits, songs, recital music, poetry, dance and more are presented for the whole community to enjoy.

Q: What about cell phones, internet, television, video games, and computers?
A: Walden students are quite busy during the summer, and the location of the program is ideal as a retreat from the distractions of our ever-connected and plugged-in world. Therefore, items such as video games, PDAs, cell phones, and other electronic devices should be left at home; The Walden School does not allow their use during the summer session. Students do not have access to the Internet while at Walden. Students who already use a computer to notate compositional work can bring the computer and related software and can work on such projects while at Walden, but must refrain from watching television shows or movies or playing video games on the computer. Students have access to dormitory phones and can purchase phone cards to use with the phones to call home (and receive calls from home!) during certain hours of the day. Students are required to write a letter (placed in a stamped, addressed envelope no less!) home each week to their parents.

Q: Do students leave the campus during the summer?
A: Students go off-campus with staff and faculty supervision on regular occasions throughout the summer. Each Saturday the entire community hikes a nearby mountain, and all students, faculty and staff board school buses and head off-campus for the day. This excursion is almost always followed by a couple of hours in a local town so that students can visit stores to purchase sundries, books, and/or other items. There are also frequent swim trips to nearby lakes, which are off-campus. Students are never allowed to leave campus without being accompanied by a faculty or staff member.

Q: Can parents visit students during the session?
A: There are numerous public events throughout the summer – concerts, Composers Forums and events during the final Festival Week – that are all open to the public and members of the parent community. We encourage parents to visit during these times. Also, with a minimum 24-hours prior arrangement, it is possible to take one’s child out for a lunch or dinner, or to join in one of our Saturday hikes with the entire community. It is not possible to accommodate parents and families in the dining hall for meals, except on the Thursday evening of Festival Week for the family dinner.

Q: What’s Festival Week?
A: The fifth and final week of Walden is Festival Week. Over the course of the week, students present the creative work of the summer through concerts, forums, and demonstrations that are open to the public. Parents and friends are encouraged to attend this special showcase week.

Q: Where do students live?
A: Walden students are housed in the dormitories of our host campus, the Dublin School. They are grouped according to age and gender, and faculty and staff members live in their own private rooms in the dormitories. Each student has at least one roommate. The dormitories range in size, housing anywhere from 7 to 22 students, plus a minimum of two members of the faculty and staff.

Q: What and where is the Dubin School?
A: The Dublin School is situated on 365 wooded acres in Dublin, New Hampshire, a setting that is conducive to swimming, outdoor activities, and quiet walks in inspirational vistas. Dublin Lake is within walking distance of the campus. Behind the lake stands 3,200 foot Mount Monadnock, which the Walden community climbs each summer. The Dublin campus comprises 10 buildings, including the Louise Shonk Kelly Recital Hall, arts building and studios, and library. Each summer, the academic buildings are turned into music studios with 16 pianos, two of which are concert grands. Dublin School is a private college preparatory school. For more information about Dublin School’s campus and program, please visit their web site at www.dublinschool.org.

Q: If the program is in New Hampshire, why is the office in California?
A: Walden offers summer programs, and we utilize the campus of the Dublin School in New Hampshire, where we have been in residence since 1983. The School is a New Hampshire 501(c)(3) organization. Our faculty and staff live throughout the country. Walden’s Executive Director, Seth Brenzel, lives in San Francisco year-round, and in his role as Director of the Young Musicians Program, he is in full-time residence in New Hampshire during the summer.

Some mix of intellectual purpose, music and community has touched our daughter, and the joy is palpable and big enough, I think, to go with her wherever she goes.

– Parent of a Young Musicians Program student

Want to apply for Summer 2019?