iPad Music Camp: getting started


You’re interested in adding some digital music to your curriculum but you don’t know where it would fit. Or maybe you don’t have access to iPads during your school year and in the summer they are free. Whatever your reason, here are the basics for starting your own iPad music camp at school or in your community.


Get the people in power on your side. You’re going to offer a great service to students at virtually no cost to the district and provide an experience they can’t get elsewhere. It helped me to tie it into the new core arts standards and show it wasn’t just “mess around on the iPad” camp. My music supervisor loved the content and my principal loved that it was free to the district. Both of them were interested in the fun and that’s the best selling point for a community education approach, too.


If you can use your school classroom, it takes a lot of the guesswork out of it. You know the equipment, computer, internet connections, and sound system and can hit the ground running. If you are running a camp away from your school or doing a community education class, it’s easier if you have a SMART board but not 100% necessary. Make sure you have wireless internet in your facility and get the password where applicable.


This type of camp only works when your campers are 1-to-1 with technology. Your school district probably has a set of iPads you can use if you ask your administration. As a community education class, you can make an iPad a pre-requisite for the camp or find a local place that will rent them (like this one in Rochester, NY) and you might be able to get a group discount. If students are bringing their own device, supply them with a list of apps to download BEFORE the first day of class so you can get started. All the apps I use are FREE but can be upgraded to do cooler stuff and use more instruments.


Keep in mind that every city and venue is different. In my situation at school, I have limited overhead and am only being compensated for my time. I don’t need supplies, facility rental, mailings, or equipment. (The same can be said for most school districts or community education classes.) I charge $5 an hour per camper for the 2-hour session but you should look around at other day camps in your area for their pricing. Remember that if they have overhead, it’s factored into their cost so at the local art camp where they’re painting, they need to pay for those consumable supplies. In order to be on the up-and-up, my camp runs through our local district’s music education cooperative, which allows me to use the facilities for free as long as I report the income to the IRS. (They provide me with a 1099.)


I play videos on the school’s morning announcements leading up to the sign-up period. These teasers expose kids to what GarageBand can do. It can be an individual building a cool song or a group of students their age playing but I make it look fun. When registration forms come out I have a new video and then another after a couple more weeks. Each video is seen by the students a maximum of three times. Any more than that and they tune out. I also visit as many music classes as I can to discuss the camp with students I don’t see during the school year. I’ve also found that handing a form to a student and telling them to consider attending works wonders. For community education, go where the people are. Post advertisements at the local music shops and libraries. Contact local music teachers and folks who give private lessons.


Decide if you want this camp to reinforce your curriculum or supplement it. My choice is to supplement. The stuff we do in music camp aren’t replicated anywhere in our program. We spend a lot of time on GarageBand basics so they can create music. In our curricular classes, we don’t use iPads at all. I’ll get into specifics on planning in a later post.


You could do paper sign-up forms and hope that students take them home and you get them back. I’ve used that approach but also have an entire online registration set up on my school website. You can create an embeddable form using Google Docs, embed a PayPal button, and now folks can register and pay online!

My next blog post will include the curriculum I use as a guide for your set-up but this is all the background stuff you need. Send me a Tweet or Facebook message if you have questions.


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iPad Music Camp: getting started

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