Founded in 1983, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) Summer Music Camp (SMC) is an annual residential summer youth program consisting of two, one-week sessions. Approximately 1,800 students participate in large and small ensembles, musicianship classes, recreational time, and evening activities. Instructors have included UNCG music faculty, area band, orchestra, and chorus directors, and private piano faculty, in addition to pre-service teachers. Although unintentional, the SMC has become an effective field experience for pre-service teachers.
Field experience is beneficial to the growth of future educators (Branyon, 2008). McGlamery and Harrington (2007) reported field experiences are critical components in the teacher education program. Pre-service music teachers who participate in the SMC teach within a controlled environment along with experienced master teachers who serve as mentors. Complete instructional responsibility is afforded to the pre-service teachers through situations that include teaching in individualized sessions, small group instruction, rehearsing large ensembles, monitoring student behavior, and various administrative tasks. Furthermore, the pre-service teachers collaborate with a master teacher and peers to develop teaching strategies and learning goals. These duties and responsibilities are similar, if not identical, to classroom situations. The SMC allows pre-service teachers to connect theories and practices learned and discussed in the teacher education program with actual teaching situations. Moreover, pre-service teachers have the opportunity to teach students in grades 5-12 rather than peers as often seen in the collegiate classroom.
The SMC provides a microcosm of a school semester in a controlled, two-week long environment. To date, no document has been published formally on the SMC’s history, success, and benefits to pre-service teachers. This project will examine the benefits of summer youth programs for pre-service teachers through an analysis of the UNCG Summer Music Camp, its history, success, and current organizational structure. Scheduling, curriculum design, and experiences of pre-service teachers will be discussed.