About 30 high school students from the Chicago area will be coming together this Saturday at DePaul University to learn the ins and outs of the music industry through a program called GRAMMY Camp Weekend.
But the camp is not about finding the next Beyoncé or Taylor Swift.
“There are so many careers in and around music that do not involve performance but may still feed that passion for music that a young person might have,” said Scott Goldman, the vice president of the GRAMMY Foundation. “Oftentimes, these careers are lost in that pursuit of the ‘American Idol’ or ‘The Voice’ rubric.”
Goldman blames these shows for making young people feel like they have to be “discovered” to make it in the music industry.
“If you talk to any music professional, that’s just not how it works for 99.9 percent of the people involved in music,” said Goldman. “We at the GRAMMY Foundation take a very, for lack of a better term, vocational approach to music education. We want and look forward to working with high school students who have an interest in making music their career, and we want to give them the tools and information that can help them make better decisions.”
Through the camp, which is part of the GRAMMY in the Schools program, students get a one-day survey course about two or three disciplines within the music industry. So students might learn about songwriting, music journalism, and audio production, and at the end of the day they have created something they can take home with them such as a song or a video.
Although the program hopes to broaden students’ minds about careers besides being performers, the camp still welcomes budding musicians. Vocal performance is covered as a possible career track during some of the camps.
The GRAMMY Foundation partners with local community organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club to help identify and select students to attend the camp.
The foundation also hires music professionals to lead the camps, which are held in various locations around the country. Students pay a $25 fee to attend the camp, but corporate sponsors such as Best Buy provide the majority of the funding. Goldman said the fee is really just there to ensure that the young people show up for the event, and there are scholarships available for students who can’t afford it.
The program started three years ago with one weekend camp. This school year there will be a dozen such camps, and the organization has plans to expand. The organization also offers a five-day summer camp and a special camp for students interested in jazz.
Photo: Students pose for a photograph during the GRAMMY Camp Weekend on October 8 in Washington, D.C. (Priscilla Clarke)
A version of this news article first appeared in the Time and Learning blog.