Summer Piano Festival (Ages 8-18)

Save the Dates! Summer Piano Festival
July 13–17, 2020

Auditions: All new and returning participants—sign up to audition in April

Summer 2020 Auditions:
Sign up online for an audition slot

Friday, April 3, 7:30–8:30 PM Saturday, April 4, 5:00–7:00 PM Sunday, April 5, 12:00–4:00 PM

The remainder of this page will be updated when 2020 details are finalized

Summer 2019:

"This was the funnest camp ever and I loved it here!" - Piano Festival participant, age 10
"It was very organized and there were fun workshops ... I can now analyze a Bach Chorale!" - Piano Festival participant, age 11
"I understand the music I play much more now. The theory and improv taught me to look at my music in an analyzing way. It's a great program." - Piano Festival participant, age 14

Open to pianists ages 8-18. Join us for five days of activities designed to bring pianists together in a fun, interactive program.

  • Open to any pianist (you do not need to study at WCMS to participate)
  • Make new friends, share music together
  • Build musicianship skills that go far beyond what is taught in your weekly piano lesson
  • Classes in musical style, two levels of improv, and three levels of music theory
  • Coached practice sessions
  • Special workshops: Pipe Organ Performance and Latin Music
  • New this year: Field trip to see the original Hammond pipe organ at Hammond Castle, Gloucester, MA
  • All Festival participants receive coaching in full body relaxation techniques and strengthening exercises to improve posture and sound production at the piano. This will include a broad study of Dalcroze Eurhythmics.
  • All participants receive a t-shirt commemorating the week-long Festival
  • Performance for family and friends at the end of the program!

Dates: July 8 - 12, 2019 (Monday - Friday)
             with final concert on Friday, July 12 at 4 PM

Monday: 9 AM - 4 PM
Tuesday: 9 AM - 4 PM (Master Class Track continues to 5 PM)
Wednesday: 9 AM - 5 PM (Field Trip day)
Thursday: 9 AM - 4 PM (Master Class Track continues to 5 PM)
Friday: 9 AM - 5 PM (Final Concert 4 - 5 PM)

Program Director: Heather Bissell

Instructors: Vartan Aghababian, Heather Bissell, Jim Conner, Kaeza Fearn, Jorge Ibanez, Jinie Kim-Han, Alexandra Kirby (guest faculty), John Kramer, Lynn Rubin, Asako Shibata, Rieko Tanaka, Sarah ToccoElyse Wilson, and Laura Ziegler

Course Descriptions:

  • Piano Ensemble (Ages 8-18)  Limited to 24 participants
    4-hands, 6-hands, the more the merrier! This course is geared toward later beginners and intermediate students and provides an opportunity for duet playing, ensembles, a "hands-on" music theory class, and two levels of improvisation:
    • Music Discoveries:  Using imagination to explore the instrument in terms of rhythm and sound in order to create a story using music.
    • Piano Creations:  Taking exploration at the piano a bit further, to include variation, musical form, and compositions. 
  • The Well-Rounded Pianist (Ages 10-18) Limited to 8 participants
    This course is designed for intermediate to advanced pianists and provides classes in musical style, the history of the piano/piano mechanics, improvisation, and music theory. This year, students will focus on pipe organ performance as part of their applied technique with John Kramer.
  • Master Class Track (Ages 10-18) Limited to 8 participants
    This is an optional track for the Well-Rounded Pianist or more advanced Piano Ensemble participants. (Audition/interview and discretion of the Program Director are required.) It offers two performance master classes in which participants will prepare one or two solo pieces for performance on the final concert. This component of the program meets from 4:00 to 5:00 pm on Tuesday and Thursday.

To participate: All participants (Piano Ensemble or Well-Rounded) should prepare a piece to play for the Program Director to assess each student's level and to assign music. There are 24 spaces in the Piano Ensemble program and 8 spaces in the Well-Rounded program.

  • AUDITIONS:  Please contact Program Director Heather Bissell to request an audition by appoointment (see enrollment deadline below).
  • REGISTRATION: Once the audition process has been completed and you have been notified of acceptance into the program, our registrar will contact you to complete the enrollment process. Participants must be age 9-18 for Piano Ensemble, or age 10-18 for Well-Rounded or Master Class, as of June 1, 2019. Younger students may be considered and accepted at the discretion of the director.
    • For the Ensemble section, auditions and enrollment must be completed by Saturday, May 4.
    • For the Well-Rounded section, auditions and enrollment will continue on a rolling basis until the program is filled.

Tuition:  $700 plus a $25 materials fee (Ensemble or Well-Rounded)
                 + $125 additional for optional Master Class Track

Students who require extra lessons to help learn their music will be charged regular summer tuition rates.

Time Ensemble
9:00 AM Group Warm-up
9:45 AM Ensemble Coaching Music Theory
10:15 AM Snack Break
10:30 AM      Music Theory                          Workshops                    Music Theory (cont.)
11:15 AM Ensemble Coaching Pipe Organ Performance
12:00 PM Lunch
1:00 PM Piano Discoveries/
Piano Creations
Musical Styles
2:00 PM Festival Show-Choir
3:00 PM Ensemble Practice
Individual Practice
(for Well-Rounded Pianist participants)
4:00 PM Master Classes
(Tuesday and Thursday only)
Master Classes
(Tuesday and Thursday only)