Review: Carnival of the Animals Music Camp

Camps and Workshops, Practice, Reviews

After a disastrous concert tour in Germany, Saint-Saens withdrew to a small Austrian village and composed what would eventually become one of his best-known works, The Carnival of the Animals. I love teaching the music from Saint-Saens Carnival of the Animals to students. Students love this humorous musical suite because it is fun and relatable.

Natalie Wickham of Music Matters Blog (a blog that not only I enjoy but inspired me to start blogging years ago), created a Carnival of the Animals Music Camp. I am excited to share with you more about it.

Carnival of the Animals is a week long music camp (2- 1/2 hours a day) full of musical imagery to delight all ages. It is designed to incorporate a classical Christian model of learning. Bible versus are shared and open dialog is encouraged. If you aren’t interested in this particular model of teaching, it is very easy to adapt with what you are personally comfortable with.

Natalie shares that there is enough material for a creative teacher to plan a 5-week music course. This can lead to a fantastic opportunity not only for the summer but a possible option to supplement your income and offer a general music class during the school year. If you don’t need quite that much time to fill, simply select the activities you want to do and move through them more quickly.

Included in the camp is the camp curriculum, promo flyer, a student workbook, review games and templates for the crafts.

A typical camp day would include an introduction and discussion, history and geography, learning about a particular movement in the suite along with several activities, games, an art project and a review. In the student workbook students begin filling out what is called, “quick snapshots” where they draw pictures and write captions to information they learn. At the end of camp, students are given assignments that allow them to immediate apply practice tips, technique skills and knowledge they learn during camp.

One of my favorite things about this camp is that the activities touch on all learning styles. For example, when students learn about the Royal March of the Lion they listen to the music, color and learn relevant vocabulary that would describe the piece. Students notate the rhythm pattern of the lion. They learn the technique of heavy arm weight. What that would sound like on the piano, feel like, look like… By the time they were done with this movement, they REALLY experienced it.

Each day of camp students are also working on their own composition based on their favorite animal. At the end of camp, they have the opportunity to share their compositions to family and friends if you choose.

Of course, one can not experience the Carnival of the Animals without learning about the composer himself. Natalie includes a biography that is ready to read straight from the page as it narrates beautifully. Also included is a map of Europe, complete video links of each movement in the suite and a list along with the links for recommended resources. In addition and something that I really appreciated was the included theme incipits of each movement so students can see the notation in addition to experiencing the technique of the movement.

Summer is just around the corner. It’s not too late to add a summer camp option for your students!. Natalie has made it super easy to do with all the lesson plans ready to go in the Carnival of Animals Music Camp. You can see highlights of each day of camp with Natalie’s students beginning with Day 1 here.



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  1. Kathy

    Looks amazing – thanks for your detailed review!

  2. savvy

    What ages is this for?

    • Jennifer Foxx

      You can really use it with a mix of ages. I know Natalie has done it with all ages and levels when she created it. If you go to the links I included in the post, you can see pictures of her students doing the camp. The reason it works with all ages well is because it’s based on creativity.


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