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Crane Youth Music Camp Offers Virtual Immersion in a World of Music

July 1, 2020

Weeklong Summer Camp Program at SUNY Potsdam Draws 157 Students to Online Experience

Crane School of Music Professor Dr. Julianne Kirk Doyle, director of Crane Youth Music, reported a robust turnout for this year’s virtual music camp experience.

The much-anticipated Crane Youth Music summer camp went virtual this week, drawing a wide range of geographically dispersed students into a single weeklong online experience. The overnight summer camp programs offered by SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music are traditionally a big draw, and students this year are no less keen to polish their skills alongside Crane’s masters — even if they have to do it from a distance.  

With 157 students, this is larger than our in-person Crane Youth Music camp was in 2019,” said Professor Dr. Julianne Kirk Doyle, who directs CYM, and had just finished a clarinet session on Monday, in which she and her students discussed how to maintain fundamentals of the instrument, practice tactics and more.

“We hope that if we can return to an in-person camp in 2021, that many of these young musicians will come join us,” Doyle said. “They are all getting a taste of CYM by sampling a little of everything."

It takes a symphony of volunteers — both within The Crane School of Music and without — to offer a camp, which, for nearly a half century, has given students ages 12 to 18 instruction in everything from voice, winds and brass, to percussion, strings, harp, and piano. Elective courses in this year’s June 29 to July 3 camp include audio engineering with alumnus Alex Neumann ’05, and ways to expand and control breathing, especially for wind instrument players, with Crane Professor of Tuba and Euphonium Dr. Charles Guy. A masterclass with Crane Professor Dr. Anna Hendrickson also explores the intricacies of oboe reed making, among numerous sessions taught by fellow Crane faculty, alumni and area educators.

The virtual camp line-up featured afternoon concert broadcasts selected from previous Crane School of Music concert series and prior CYM performances. The camp’s organizers came up with creative ways to connect students virtually, with yoga classes specially designed for musicians, scavenger hunts, virtual escape rooms, stories on Instagram, theme days and other activities.

“We have more than 30 faculty and alumni donating their time to make this happen; I couldn’t be more grateful for their willingness to give their time and connect with these students,” Doyle said.

On Tuesday, Crane alumnus Kyle Peters ’15 taught young percussionists hand positioning, stick holding and the proper form for coaxing two notes from each hand with double stroke drum rolls, all with the goal of creating “the most beautiful and consistent sound in the world.”

Peters is a percussion instructor at the Eastman Community School of Music, and looks forward to returning to help with Crane Youth Music each summer. A performer with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestra of Northern New York and the New York Wind Symphony, he told his class there is always room to improve, regardless of how long you have been playing.

“In percussion, nothing is hard; it’s just new,” Peters said. “Don’t get frustrated. It’s just going to take time.”

To find out more about the Crane Youth Music camp and other community programs at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music, visit

About The Crane School of Music:
Founded in 1886, SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music has a long legacy of excellence in music education and performance. Life at Crane includes an incredible array of more than 300 recitals, lectures and concerts presented by faculty, students and guests each year. The Crane School of Music is the State University of New York’s only All-Steinway institution. For more information, please visit

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Bret Yager (315) 267-2114