Replace pen and paper with picks and bows.
Mrs. Boyd wore flowing hippie dresses and drove a '70s Chevy grandma-wagon that excreted a plume of noxious smoke every time the engine turned over. Also, she introduced me to Beethoven. Mrs. Boyd's class wasn't so much music instruction as it was music appreciation, but what the hell did we know? We were third-graders and we played along to sonatas and operas with bells, blocks and maracas made out of plastic cups, rubber bands, plastic wrap and white rice. It was a hell of a racket, but we absolutely loved it. This summer, Santa Fe has summer music schools and classes for kids and teens that offer everything from classical training to workshops on building a guitar from scratch. Your kid may not have any innate talent, but he or she will probably have a great time anyway.
DOMO ARIGATO, MR. ROBOTO
Big Sky Leaning is hip to the connection between hands-on learning and fun. Its summer camps are built on a scientific framework but lacquered with a rock 'n' roll gloss. The ultrabusy summer schedule offers 36 half-day science camps conveniently located at the New Mexico School for the Deaf. Kids can learn how electricity works by building an electric guitar or tapping the power of the sun with a solar charger that powers an iPod. And for your little Sherlock Holmes, there's a class on making a low-tech listening device. Scholarships are available.
NO FIDDLING AROUND
Aw, look, it's a kid with an instrument! It's terribly cute-until you hear that same child playing said instrument so beautifully, it makes you realize your own creative inadequacies. Playing music at a young age isn't about being cute, it's about lifelong learning, skill development and having fun. The Santa Fe Suzuki Institute is a annual summer music camp that embraces, you guessed it, the Suzuki approach to music instruction. Components of this approach include, among other things, compassionate encouragement, repetition and parental involvement. The week-long camp hosts students from New Mexico and around the country. Typically, students already familiar with Suzuki instruction attend the camp, while Suzuki instructors have an opportunity to learn more through teacher courses. Students can expect programs including instruction on violin, viola, cello and flute, expanded advanced string program with chamber music, solo honor performances, evening concerts and parent education sessions.
MISTY MOUNTAIN HOP
Getting away from traffic lights and cable television does wonders for the mind and soul. The instructors of the nearly 50-year-old Hummingbird Music Camp, which is located on 53 secluded acres in the Jemez Mountains, know a little about the value of getting away from it all. Professional music teachers taught hundreds in band, guitar, piano, orchestra and voice. The peaceful, isolated location is ideal for full-immersion music study. Hummingbird serves students between of 8 and 4 years old and has eight one- to two-week sessions available throughout the summer (some have already ended). Of course, it's not all about music: Staff counselors round out the music instruction with campfire songs and skits, moonlight hikes to the waterfall, fishing expeditions and Saturday night dances. (There's also an art week and a chess week if your other kid is a tone-deaf painter or aspiring Gary Kasparov.)
KEEP YOUR HEAD IN THE CLOUDS
Imagination is key to music instruction. Without a sense of the nonsensical, you might as well head straight to business school. JJ Frank, a local musician and owner of the Harmonia Music School, offers private piano lessons for children and adults all year long. His private-lesson curriculum is expansive and includes classical, jazz, blues, theory, composition and improvisation. Registration is ongoing. Frank says he will soon offer group classes for students 5 to 9 years old. Students will be able to study classical, jazz and world music, but with a slight twist. Harmonia is based on a musical fantasy world Frank invented called "Land of Harmonia," which is home to a princess, wizards, elves and other mystical elements. The cast of characters will be integrated into the curriculum and used to teach the fundamentals of music.