Top Arts Summer Programs

exotic palm tree in summer day
Empowerly Team
Empowerly Team

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During high school, summer is a time to make hay while the sun shines: literally. You can volunteer, start your first internship, take summer courses, attend a residential program at a college, work on your extracurriculars… or generally do anything that continues your learning. To give you ideas on where to start, we’ll review the top 9 arts summer programs out there.

For high school students who are passionate about the arts– playing an instrument, dancing, painting, acting, and so much more — summer is a great time to take your artistic pursuits to the next level.

These intensive, arts-specific summer programs (ranging across music, dance, theater, and art) will help you build your portfolio and resume as well as provide valuable training and teaching to enhance your creative talents.

Music Summer Programs

1. Juilliard Summer Percussion Seminar
  • Program Dates: July 10-July 23, 2016 (2 weeks)
  • This long-running, intensive summer program in New York City’s Lincoln Center is for advanced percussionists in high school who are 15 or older.
  • Major percussion instruments studied: two- and four-mallet keyboard, snare drum, timpani, and orchestral accessories. Furthermore, a video audition is required in the application. 
2. Interlochen Center for the Arts Summer Music Programs
  • Interlochen Center for the Arts is an arts education institution in Michigan that attracts talented arts students from around the world.
  • The Summer Music Programs are 2 to 6 week long residential summer camps for high school musicians.
  • Topics: orchestral and wind ensembles, voice, piano, organ, harp, classical guitar, composition, jazz, audio recording, singer-songwriter, and rock
3. Boston University Tanglewood Institute
  • This residential summer program is one of the top summer musical training programs for high school students; additionally, it provides opportunities to train alongside the renowned Boston Symphony Orchestra.
  • The institute offers intensive programs in orchestra, vocals, wind ensemble, piano, composition and harp as well as two-week workshops for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, saxophone, French horn, trumpet, trombone, tuba, percussion, string quartet and double bass.
4. California Summer Music at Sonoma State University
  • A 3-week residential programs in both performance (for piano and strings) and composition located at Sonoma State University (50 miles north of San Francisco)
  • During this program, students spend the day in independent work and private lessons, courses, and rehearsals. Finally, at the end of the program, students perform in solo concerts and a music festival.

Fine Art Summer Programs

5. Rhode Island School of Design Pre-College
  • During the 6-week residential RISD Pre-College, students will be introduced to the RISD curricular concept through three foundation courses: Drawing Foundations, Design Foundations, and Critical Studies in Art.
  • RISD courses help students “sharpen your powers of observation, gain experience with various tools, materials and techniques, and learn to analyze and discuss works of art.” Students also choose a Pre-College major that allows them to explore a specific design or fine art field in depth. 

Theater Summer Programs

6. Ithaca College Summer College for High School Students: Acting
  • This 3-week residential acting program is for rising high school juniors and seniors. During this program, students spend the day in lectures, discussions, and exercises that teach improvisation, acting, presentation, and audition techniques.  
7. Tisch School of the Arts Summer High School
  • This 4-week summer residential drama program at New York University teaches drama and dramatic writing for rising high school juniors and seniors.
  • Firstly, the program includes conservatory training, a seminar in acting, dramatic writing courses (screenwriting and playwriting). During the program, students get the opportunity to develop and create their own scripts.

Dance Summer Programs

8. Juilliard Summer Dance Intensive
  • This rigorous 3-week ballet and modern dance program is for rising high school sophomores and seniors.  
  • Students are expected to have significant training in ballet. As a result, this summer program aims to help students refine technique and performance in ballet and modern technique. There is a student performance at the end of the program.  
  • An audition is required in the application. 
9. Interlochen High School Dance Summer Programs 
  • These 2-3 week programs for rising sophomores to seniors train students in ballet or modern dance for six hours.Students are expected to have at least 3 years of dance training, and auditions are required in the application. 
  • Areas include ballet and modern technique, pointe, improvisation and composition, jazz, body conditioning and repertory.


Overall, colleges look for students who have shown passion, commitment, and talent in a particular area. If you are passionate about the arts, be sure to take advantage of programs that provide opportunities to train with renowned artists and build on your talents over the summer. 

Questions? Let us know!