Litchfield Jazz Festival & Jazz Camp




Parent Reviews

The best 4 weeks of his life

Our son Daniel just completed his 2nd summer at Litchfield Jazz Camp.  If pressed to describe his experience concisely, we’re pretty sure this 15-year old would simply say they were the best 4 weeks of his life.  His only complaint was that camp ended & he had to leave.

At the festival, we had a chance to briefly tell you how impressed we were both with the design of the musical programs, & with the caliber of the faculty & staff.  The combination makes for an atmosphere highly conducive to learning, with ample encouragement & positive reinforcement…& the kids clearly have a blast.

What we didn’t get to discuss was how well Litchfield works as a camp; it’s as well run as any we’ve encountered, & compares favorably with most.  You manage to afford the kids a fair amount of freedom, while parents know their kids are very well-attended to & in a safe environment.

Still more impressive is how much thought has clearly been given to bringing together students of diverse backgrounds.  At one of the student concerts, we happened to notice a stack of surveys & took a blank form.  The low-key, matter-of-fact way in which you poll campers on their past exposure to, & comfort level with, racial integration was refreshing; we think it’s healthy to openly discuss these things.

We like the philosophy of the camp as much as its implementation.  Please accept our congratulations on what you’ve built here, together with our profound appreciation as parents for the invaluable experience you’ve afforded our son.

When we returned home from Litchfield this summer—before Daniel unpacked—we got on the phone to check next year’s schedule, so we can plan our family reunion & other activities without his missing a single day of camp next summer!

New York, NY

The Connection Between Faculty and Students

My son - who had decided to work this summer and not attend Litchfield Jazz Camp - saw one of your faculty members, Steve Johns, at a concert. While Steve is a drummer and my son a trumpet player - they recognized each other and Steve came over to speak to Adam at the break between sets and ask about his plans. At the time Adam said he was not attending but on the way home, voiced the strong desire to return and is registered again. The strength of the faculty and the connection of this faculty to the students - which I saw at all levels - from the coaching of the combos and to how much my son wanted to be like Winard Harper, one of last year's faculty members - and was exemplified in this concert exchange is clearly unique.

Brooklyn, NY

The Litchfield Jazz Camp “Family”

The Litchfield Jazz Camp has become an extended part of our family. It is not just Vita Muir or Don Braden; it is the entire staff, the campers and their families. Everyone encourages these kids to be the best that they can be. It is an incredible feeling to know that your child is surrounded by these wonderful people. It truly does take a village.

The Litchfield Jazz Camp has given our son so much that we could never really express our appreciation. He has been going to the camp for the last two years and in those years he has learned a lot about the music and the theory which is something most teachers just touch on but rarely explain, this has been extraordinary because you don't realize how it will help these kids in their talent, but you can actually hear the growth.

Don & Laura
Burlington, CT

From a first time camp mother

I thought I was ready when my husband Bill suggested that we send Nellson off to camp for three weeks. Nellson is my 14-year-old saxophone playing son. I adore this child, who is talented, funny, a little eccentric (where would that comefrom?). Anyway, we decided that Nellson was ready for an intense musical
experience, given his talent, love of jazz, and his motivation. Our research into camps led us to the Litchfield Jazz Camp in Litchfield, Connecticut. We all decided on the three week camp.

This was Nellson's first camp experience, and he gave us every assurance that he was ready to be away from home for that long. After all, we assured him, we would be coming to the camp for his concerts every Friday night, and we would never be more than a phone call away ("just keep your cell phone plugged in" I reminded him too many times). We talked about home sickness, loneliness, and the intensity of camp. I collected the very long list of items on the camp list, knowing that two of the twenty outfits I so carefully packed would actually be worn.Long story short... we got to Litchfield, registered, made his bed, hung up clothes that would never see the light of day, and prepared to leave. I was totally okay up to that point. I was appropriately encouraging and positive. It was at that last moment when I noticed that one tear rolling down Nellson's face that I felt the most intense feelings of loneliness and apprehension. Was I doing the right thing? Could he manage this experience? Was three weeks too long? I knew that we should only do two. Nellson held it together, said "I love you, mom", and walked away. Thank God it was dark.

I will admit to you that I was surprised at the intensity of my reaction to Nellson's walking away from me that night. I have never seen myself as the clinging mother. I reluctantly admit that over the years I have frequently been critical of those mothers who cannot let their children go. I ask myself, "am I a closet clinging mother"?

On day three of camp the first call came... and the second and third and fourth and fifth. There were seven calls in all. Nellson reported that camp was terrible. They weren't teaching him anything he didn't already know. They had put him in the worst combo with people who couldn't play. The food was awful. He had run out of snacks. He couldn't breathe in the heat. He was lonely. Everybody in charge of anything in the camp was mean and stupid and nobody cared what happened to him. The rational part of me knew that this was about adjusting to a new environment without his parents. The hysterical part of me was sure he was being mistreated or ignored.

What did we see when we visited camp that first week-end...a camp full of talented kids playing great music with fabulous teachers, and a very happy Nellson who was doing just fine. Three weeks have passed and we hardly ever get a phone call. On our last visit to camp we asked Nellson how he felt about camp. This was his response. A picture is indeed worth a thousand words.

Another rite of passage for a boy and his mother.


From a parent of a 3rd year camper

My daughter, Allegra, a 17-year-old high school senior, has attended Litchfield Jazz Camp for the past two summers, and I am happy to report that I can recommend the camp to other families without reservation.

Allegra first enrolled at the camp for one week during the summer of 2005. She arrived there having just returned from several weeks at a different camp that specialized in theater. She was so exhausted from that experience that we dropped her off at Litchfield realizing that she was far from ready to start another camp so soon. Within a day, though, all of our concerns evaporated. She called home to say that she loved Litchfield Jazz Camp, was having the best time of her entire life there and never wanted to leave. She proceeded to make countless friends at the camp, many of whom she stayed in touch with during the year.

(In sharp contrast to her theater camp, which was overrun with drama queens and little divas, the jazz lovers at Litchfield tend to be unassuming, interesting, noncompetitive, and NICE.) With a large faculty comprised of working jazz musicians, the instruction at Litchfield was also of an extraordinarily high caliber. Our daughter, a jazz vocalist, came away saying that she had learned more in her six days there and grown more as a musician than she ever could have imagined. We practically had to drag her away at the end of her scheduled weeklong session. It was no surprise that she chose to return there last summer, this time for three weeks rather than one.

One of the best things about the camp, to my mind (aside from the popular jazz festival in which it culminates, which is very exciting for the kids) is that it manages to serve and satisfy musicians of all different ages and levels of ability. Some of the campers are extraordinarily talented. Others are relative novices, though, and the rest fall somewhere in between. On the first day, auditions are held to gauge where everyone fits musically. Then they are divided into small combos according to their skills, so that everyone gets to work closely with an instructor and other campers near their own level. At the end of each week, each camper gets to perform an equal amount at the closing concert (as opposed to at theater camp, where a few lucky kids land the lead roles and everyone else gets relegated to the chorus). And even if it's obvious who the rising stars are, everyone pretty much gets applauded equally. It's very egalitarian and very nice.

The program is held in an extremely safe, self-contained, and scenic rural setting, and I am confident about the supervision of the campers. My daughter is planning to return again this summer for a third round, along with two close friends she made last year. That, to me, is the ultimate endorsement: a truly satisfied customer.

West Hartford, CT

More Feedback

Thank you in return, a thousand times, for such a deeply meaningful experience for my dear daughter and for so many young minds who flourish at your most splendid camp. It is really, truly, a diamond of a program, and we feel so grateful for what you and your wonderful staff make possible.

Each day gave me more and more confidence in playing jazz.

The mission and focus of the non-profit run Litchfield Jazz Camp is not simply to create great music but to transform young students by opening doors for them that lead to scholarships, college and fulfilling lives.  I have seen firsthand the transformative power of this program.

Honestly the best experience of my life!  So much hands on experience that I feel can't be given any where other than this camp!

I've taught at quite a few camps, and LJC ranks at the top of the list; from the administration, to the faculty and students, the commitment to the music is at the highest level.

At the Litchfield Jazz Camp you'll be surrounded by people of all ages who are serious and accomplished musicians which is an awesome and rare experience.

Each day gave me more and more confidence in playing jazz.

The faculty was great! They were funny, friendly, and very skilled and experienced on the subject of jazz. They helped me appreciate jazz and understand it better.

Don Braden sat down with me and gave me tips to greatly help me.

It was a good experience and I got to play with people like me, and people who are better than me.

I was blown away by Litchfield Jazz Camp.  The atmosphere was pure learning.  The young people were hungry and joyful.  My colleagues on the faculty were giving it every minute.  What a wonderful exchange.

Thank you so much for providing this experience to adult students like me who still feels the passion for the music as if I were back in high school.

Perhaps the Litchfield Jazz Camp will be the spark that may ignite my determination to be a professional musician -- I know it was for my brother.

I came home [from LJC] so inspired and devoted to music that I knew this was my future.

My experience at Litchfield Jazz camp has helped me not only fine tune my music ability, but my performing as well.

Litchfield helped to motivate me to practice and improve my skills.

Litchfield Jazz Camp has played a huge part in my musical development. I love the opportunity to play with other students and learn from some of the best musicians in the world.

I probably learned more in those two weeks than my entire year in school band.

The experience at Litchfield was superior to what other camp programs offer.

I attended Litchfield last summer for two weeks, and it really boosted my improvisation skills. My private teacher was in shock because I came home and I knew all my diminished, altered, and half-diminished scales, none of which I knew before. I have found that the benefits of Litchfield last the entire year.

I have gone to this camp every year and it is the highlight of my summer.

The teachers are accomplished professionals, kind and helpful and the other kids I've met are nice and fun.