If you’re a Sophomore or Junior with hopes of going to college for musical theatre, this is an important time of year for you. Why, you might ask? Because applications for many musical theatre summer intensives are due soon and you should take one to prepare for your college auditions.
Let’s get right to it. Here’s why summer intensives are important:
- It gives you a chance to make sure this is the right path for you. Being in your high school or community musical can be a lot of fun, but four years of training to be a smart musical theatre performer requires a completely different kind of stamina and drive. Some students take part in summer intensives and realize they’re not cut out for it. No shame there. For others, it only solidifies their interest. Great. Either way, it’s good to know where you stand coming out of a summer program.
- You can check out college programs you’re interested in. Do you have a dream school? Now’s your chance to put them to the test! See what all the fuss is about.
- You’ll get to work with theatre educators and industry professionals. We celebrate your public and private teachers, who are preparing you for success. It’s always great, however, to get outside perspective, and the teachers at summer intensives can provide you just that. In most summer programs, you’ll have an opportunity to train with some of the same people who teach at the college. That’s a wonderful way to get a sense of a program’s philosophy and atmosphere.
- You will mature as a performing artist. Some of your peers have been taking acting, singing, and dance lessons for years. This is an opportunity to catch up a bit and get a better sense of how you can go deeper in your work as a performer. While summer intensives can be expensive (several thousand dollars), the scope of the different classes you’ll be able to take can really give you a boost.
It seems most every college musical theatre program now has a summer intensive. It’s become a way to sell the school. That can be a good thing for you, but remember: not all summer programs are created equal.
Here’s what you need to look for in a summer intensive:
- Consider programs other than the big names. We all know about those “Top Ten” musical theatre schools thanks to Backstage and other publications. That’s great. Just remember: that doesn’t mean they’re right for you. You are an individual with particular skills and opportunities for growth. Don’t be “wowed” by what other people say is “the best.” Do your research and find out what’s best for you.
- Consider the program size. If you’re paying a lot of money for a summer intensive, you should make sure you’re getting a good chunk of one-on-one time with the teachers. Avoid programs that take in large quantities of students. They can be more of a cash cow for the institution than a benefit to you.
- Consider your weaknesses. Think about what you need to work on and look for summer programs that are strong in those particular areas. Not strong in dance? Now’s the time to address that. Need a strong voice teacher. Find a program that will connect you to one.
- Consider other people’s perspectives. Ask your peers what summer intensives they took part in and what their experience was. Everyone filters their experience through their own unique lens, so you may have to take their reviews with a grain of salt. But getting an inside look from another student is always a good idea.
- Consider the expense. Have an honest talk with your parents about the expense associated with summer intensives. Compare and contrast different intensives you’re interested in and explain why one is a better financial investment than the other. Some summer intensives may offer financial aid. Call and find out. Your parents will more than likely be impressed with you being proactive and thinking of their concerns.
If a summer intensive is not financially possible, don’t fret. Research local and regional opportunities that may be cheaper, or subsidized by your state.
True, this is a lot to think about, but just wait until you start applying to colleges!
For more information, including a list of summer musical theatre intensives and how to shoot an audition video (which you’ll have to do for most of these programs), check out our book, Mastering College Musical Theatre Auditions: Sound Advice for the Student, Teacher, and Parent (available on Amazon). We talk about summer intensives in more detail in our second chapter.
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Check out our book “Mastering College Musical Theatre Auditions: Sound Advice for the Student, Teacher, and Parent” now available on Amazon.