Adapting Music Camp Online (Music Teacher Tip #29)

Camps and Workshops, Tips

Are you finding that families are starting to burn out from online lessons right now? If it makes you feel any better, this is the time of year families start to burn out regardless. Online or in person, they are ready for a break.

This is one reason why I like to do camps early summer. I live in Arizona so in a ”normal” summer, my families like to escape the heat as soon as school gets out. While it may be a little harder to escape the heat right now, I know they are wanting to escape the “norm”. And that is exactly what summer camp/workshops can provide.

I would recommend watching Music Teacher Tip #28: Adapting Music Games and Activities Online if you haven’t already. It will give you some great options for adapting camp games and activities. There are many different ways to go about delivering your camps. I talk about them a little big more in this music teacher tip video below…

Options on how to deliver your camps…

  1. Live (set a schedule and meet together online)
  2. Recorded (watch on their own time)
  3. A mix of both above
  4. Add in supplemental support to either live or recorded



If you decide to run your online camp live you will want to consider the following tools-

  • Screen share (find out if YOUR preferred platform has this option)
  • Breakout rooms (This is a Zoom feature. Dorla with Group Piano Online has more experience with this option so I will refer you to her blog)



I have several music camps available that are already done for you. I know many of you have my camps so I thought I would give some examples on how to adapt some of them online. 

Practice Music Workshop

This is the camp that I am doing this year with my students. I like to do this camp with students every 3-4 years. It lends itself very well for an online camp. I share how I will be running this camp in the video above. You can easily run this camp live, recorded, a mix of both OR what I am doing recorded with supplemental support.

For the supplemental support, I am creating practice buddy student chat groups inside Tonara, the practice platform I use with my students. This is also where I am hosting the recorded video, links and PDFs that I will be sharing with them. Tonara makes it super easy for students to access and communicate. I highly recommend looking into it if you have already.

If I was going to run this particular camp live, I would use the breakout rooms in Zoom for one of the activities where I would divide students into pairs of 2-3 students as they work through some music and how they would practice it. After so long, I would bring all the students back together where we would discuss their practice plan with everyone.

*I am a big fan and supportive affiliate of Tonara. If you decide to give it a try, feel free to use the code: MER20 for 20% off your first year. 

Movie Music Camp

This one would be best to do live using the breakout rooms though, depending not the size of your group, you may not need to break out.

In this camp, students are learning about the history of music in the movies, they learn about movie composers, they learn experience what it is like to be a silent movie musician and create their own silent movie.

Learning about the history and facts will be easy to teach in an online format. The trickier thing to implement will be experiencing how to be a silent movie musician and creating their own silent movie as a group experience. Does it mean it is impossible? No. It’s just a matter of using what you have and running with it.

Students can still experience the silent movie musician experience when you screen share a clip and they try playing a long. You will need to mute the students as they do this so you won’t be able to hear all of them, but you will be able to see them experiencing it and trying it. If you want, you can even have them record an example and share with you at a later time.

As far as creating a silent movie. Students can work together inside the break out rooms or all together depending on the size of your group. In this setting, I think it would be best if groups were smaller around 3-4 max. If you have more than that in a camp session, definitely use the break out rooms. Give them time to come up with their script etc. and then you can moderate each room to see how everyone is making progress.

This camp will definitely be a longer camp. You will want at least 8 hours of total meet up time (could go even longer). But you will want to break it up into smaller meet ups. (More on that later below)

I think this one would be super fun to try online! If you end up doing it, I’d love to see the end results of the silent movies students create! Wouldn’t it be a fun to do a “quarantine” themed silent movie? I can just picture the funny possibilities!!!

Conducting Basics-

This one would be a shorter camp and would also work well for a couple group lesson activities as well. I would do this one live if possible. Mute students as they practice conducting along different styles of music accompaniments including a live accompaniment by you and other students.

This one includes videos to share, so screen sharing would be helpful.




Composer Time Capsules

If you haven’t tried the composer time capsules yet, this would make for a super easy online camp! This one would be best done live as each time capsule includes a Kahoot bonus game. (Definitely watch music teacher tip #28 if you aren’t familiar with Kahoot)

When I used a composer time capsule for a recent group lesson, it took me about 20 minutes to go through the facts about the composer, and then about 20 minutes for the Kahoot game.

Take about 4-5 composer time capsules and you have a nice and easy composer camp! Visit the blog post, Camp Lesson Plan Made Easy for tips how to use these in your lesson plan.


How long should a live online camp class session be?

It really depends on what you are doing with the kids during your camp. You will need to remember that in an online format, activities will usually take longer to get through, simply because everyone will need to take turns to do things. So remember to be willing to let go of some activities that just might not happen simply because there isn’t time. On the flip side, it is always good to be prepared when a particular group may go through things faster than other groups. For those instances, I always have a “if time” back up plan.

You don’t want a particular session day to last too long otherwise you could “lose” the kids. You don’t want that engagement to fall during the session where kids are sneaking into another app on their device instead of participating in the class. I personally think a happy medium again, depending on the specific camp and activities is around 1-1/2 hours. So lets say a camp you want to hold is typically 4-hours long, total. I would suggest breaking it up in either four, 1 hour days or three, 1 hour 20 minute days. 

An exception might be the movie camp when students are actively working together and planning their silent movie. You could easily meet for a couple hours and keep engagement high during the planning and recording process.

Teach all summer but don’t want to do a formal camp?

Remember it is good to mix things up from the norm. It’s good for us, it is good for our students. If you don’t want to hold a camp, I would highly recommend at least getting together every few weeks for some kind of group lesson. Maybe a masterclass one time, a game day another time. The key is to mix things up so things don’t get stagnate.

Whatever you decide to do, think outside the box. Most of what you want to do in person can also be done online, it will just look and feel a little different. Think, how can I make this work? What can I do to adapt?

And if you just want to take a break and do absolutely nothing over the summer? That’s okay too! Just remember, everyone is feeling the drain right now. Teachers, students, parents… Just figure out what YOU want to do, what is best for you and your students right now and then do it. 


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