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Attention all string and piano students!

We are excited to announce the return of the ESME String Camp this summer of 2024, scheduled June 24th through June 29th and held at the Aquinas College Art and Music Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan!  Registration is open! Limited spots are available!

The ESME String Camp offers accessible and interactive programs designed by a diverse, world class faculty including musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Philadelphia Orchestra.  Special guest faculty artists include Joseph Conyers, principal double bass of The Philadelphia Orchestra, and dancer Sarah Marley of the Grand Rapids Ballet.


Students will participate in private lessons, chamber music and orchestra coachings, interactive workshops, masterclasses and concerts.  Our programs include a wide variety of interactive workshops to choose from, including classes on chamber ensemble playing, composing, body awareness and physical maintenance, practice techniques, rhythmic interplay, interactive improvisation, music entrepreneurship, conducting, introductions to video editing software, recording and sound engineering, warm-up exercises derived from classical and contemporary ballet for freeing muscle tension, improving physical endurance, posture, bodyweight distribution, exploring the interconnectivity of expression between music and dance and more!

What is the ESME String Camp, who are the faculty and who is the ESME String Camp for?


The ESME String Camp is an exciting summer intensive chamber music program designed for any age and grade level.  We accept violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano students. Students have the option to sign up for lessons on more than one instrument.  Students of instruments other than strings or piano are accepted on a limited basis.  Individual students will be arranged into chamber groups, classes and workshops that are based on their *level and work with ESME on both traditional classical and ESME pop chamber arrangements. Students in preexisting chamber ensembles have the option to sign up and participate in the camp together as a pre-formed group.  

The ESME String Camp now offers a scholarship program that covers up to full camp tuition for qualifying students!  To request a scholarship application contact us at:


* The 2024 ESME String Camp program is divided into two groups: ESME Concert Program (ECP) and the ESME Philharmonia Program (EPP).  Scroll down below to view requirements for each program group.

Camp Programs

Morning Warmups

Warm-up sessions begin each morning with interactive playing, listening, improv, vocal and physical warm-up exercises.

Interactive Workshops

Various workshops are led each day by faculty members with topics that include

  • How To Produce a Beautiful Tone 

1.  How to produce a beautiful ringing sound with “core”?

2.  Exploring complexity of tone color and voice.

3.  Showing musical direction within a note or a group of notes.

4.  Interesting characteristics of down and up bow and how to expand their versatility.

5.  The mystery term “contact point” and the inter-relationship between bow speed, pressure, and distance.

6.  The role of each hand in tone production

7.  Producing great tone in a variety of different bow strokes and articulations.

  • Strategies For Better Intonation, Shifting, and Fingerboard Mapping

1.  The origin of different intervals from nature and the difference between frequency and intonation.

2.  Our perception of leading tones and the “self-fulfilling” scale.

3.  The asthetics of  “melodic” intonation.

4.  Horizontal and vertical interaction between notes.

5.  The power of “auralization” and mind games that improve your inner hearing.

6.  The role of each hand in tone production

7.  Common strategies of fingering patterns and fingerboard mapping.

  • Composition: The Basics of Composing Using Notation Software -  Learning how to use MuseScore (a free downloadable program) to create simple scores, and study the building blocks of writing classical music: Melody, Rhythm, Harmony and Bass.  Students will create short compositions and share them with the group at the end of the multi-day workshop.  Click here to see an example of a student's composition from a previous year.

  • Practice Techniques

1.  Examining various practice techniques and why they are effective.

2. Why and how do we practice? Finding healthy motivation.

2.  Thinking through problems and trying out ideas.

3.  Repetition: how it helps and how it can harm.

4.  Covering ground vs. selecting specific excerpts. How to plan your practice sessions.

5.  What is "focus/concentration" and how to nourish it.

  • “Body Awareness”

1. Exploring our physical approach to the instrument as an extension of the self.

2. Centering the mechanics of playing and examining string temperament.

3. Relating playing posture to non-playing posture and working with how the body is structured.

4. Creating a comfortable practice environment. 

5. Warm-ups derived from classical and contemporary ballet for freeing muscle tension, improving physical endurance, posture and bodyweight distribution.

  • Improvisation Interactive Workshop 

1.  Exploring the vocal foundations and phonetics of articulation, rhythm and phrasing and applying them to improvisation.  

2.  Using fundamental tools of rhythm and tone study to create catalysts for improvisation.  

3.  Interactive improvisation exercises using tuning drones, scales and appoggiaturas: basking in harmonies and relishing interval relationships.

4. Basic techniques for improvisation. Topics include harmonization, embellishment, overcoming stage fright, and developing a variation from start to finish.

  • “Got Rhythm?”

1. The importance of rhythm and how it creates and shapes freedom of expression. 2. Rhythmic Interplay: Interactive rhythmic exercises that explore the interplay between big beats, subdivision, syncopation, ties, dance rhythm, and rubato.

3.  “Groove: The Prodigal Son”- How we leave and return to the beat in order to create groove.  Give and take, ebb and flow of tension and release.

  • Ensemble Playing: An Interactive Exploration 

1.  Accompanying in Chamber Music : The relationship between melody and motor rhythm, solo and accompaniment.  Using rhythm to give freedom.

2.  Understanding Rubato : What does “rubato” mean?  How to enjoy it and use it correctly.  How to both lead and follow while playing rubato.

3.  How do we play “together”?  How several differing individual minds can work together effectively to produce one result in a chamber group.

4.  Using shape and the right arm to communicate intention to each other in a string group.

5.  Chordal and harmonic intonation.  What is really “in tune” in a chamber group and how do we achieve it? 

6.  Verbal Communication: How do we talk to each other in a chamber group? Where language helps and hinders and the magic of finding without needing to know. 

7.  “Importance of the Long Phrase in Ensemble Playing”: How the long phrase affects treatment of rubato, tempo, musical intensity and organic cohesion within an ensemble.

  • Conducting

1.  Building a foundation of essential conducting skills: learning how to conduct, how to better understand issues of ensemble, improve your ability to read the intentions behind a conductor's gestures and become a better leader and follower in any musical group.

2. Students will work on gestures of will, beat patterns, beat preparation, cueing, sustaining notes, accents, crescendo and decrescendo, tempo and meter change, mixed meter, rubato. 

3. Complex issues including phrasing and direction, intensity and color, body language, how to use different parts of your arms, who to conduct, who leads and who follows, and using the eyes and face.  Students will help each other by being each other’s “orchestra”

  • Theory Class

1. Understanding basic music theory in an approachable way.

2. Identifying and analyzing scales, modes, keys, intervals and chords in musical literature.

3. Integrating melodic and harmonic function into study of musical forms.

4. Solfège singing and interactive exercises.

  •  Recording, mixing and editing virtual performances :

1.  An Introduction to Sound Engineering -  Learning how to use Audacity (a free downloadable program) to create sound recordings, edit them to be high quality, add effects and other edits, and produce a finalized MP3 or WAV file.  

2.  Learning basic acoustics and the definition of digital sound.

  • Introduction to Video Editing: The Basics of Working with Video Editing Software

1.  Starting with raw video footage and creating a complete product.

2.  Aligning and editing audio

3.  Adding transitions and effects

4.  Learning formatting and terminology. 

  • Music Entrepeneurship  Topics include college and career preparedness, music entrepreneurship and tips on how to take auditions.  This class teaches young musicians how to manage their future in today's increasingly shifting professional landscape.  

  •  Ballet and Holistic Musicianship   Lead by Sarah Marley, dancer and choreographer of the Grand Rapids Ballet.  Sarah will lead physical warmups for students throughout the week, perform live dance for the students and teach a special class that introduces ballet techniques for freeing muscle tension for musicians, improving physical endurance, posture, core strength and bodyweight distribution.  Students will also participate in interactive music and dance exercises designed and choreographed by Sarah from classical and contemporary dance.  Students will get to improvise and compose music to Sarah's dance choreography and explore the interconnectivity of expression between dance and music-making and it's relation to phrasing, groove, musical shape, weight and direction. 

Meet the Artistic Faculty


Jeremy Crosmer completed multiple graduate degrees from the University of Michigan in cello, composition and theory pedagogy, and received his D.M.A. in 2012 at age 24.  He has served as Assistant Principal Cellist in the Grand Rapids Symphony, and is currently a member of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.  Jeremy has written arrangements for the GRS Music for Health Initiative, which pairs symphonic musicians with music therapists to bring classical music to hospitals, as well as full orchestral compositions programmed for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's 2019-2020 classical concert season.  Jeremy has toured London with the Grand Valley State University Chamber Orchestra and performed as soloist with the GRS.  While still in school, Jeremy was awarded the prestigious Theodore Presser Graduate Music Award to publish, record and perform his Crosmer-Popper duets.  Jeremy has taught music theory, pre-calculus and cello at universities across Michigan.

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Mike Chen has been a violist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra since 2018.  He was a member of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra from 2012 to 2018 and a member of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra from 2003 to 2012.  He received his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from Northwestern University and has studied violin with Blair Milton and viola with Li-kuo Chang, Michael Strauss, Peter Slowik, Keith Conant and Baird Dodge.  He has performed with the Detroit Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, and Chicago Symphony.  He received a Master’s degree in Conducting at Northwestern University in 1999, and studied conducting with Victor Yampolsky, Mariusz Smolij, Gilbert Varga, David Zinman, and Murry Sidlin.  Mike was a conducting fellow at the American Academy of Conducting in Aspen, Colorado and has served as Assistant Conductor of the Saint Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra and guest conductor of the Indianapolis Symphony Side-by-Side Orchestra.


A native New Yorker, violinist Gene Hahn made his debut at Carnegie Hall as a guest soloist at age 13.  He continued to perform regularly at Carnegie with the New York Youth Symphony.  He has appeared as soloist with the Mannes College of Music Orchestra and was a winner of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Young Musicians' Competition.  Gene studied chamber music at the Manhattan School of Music with The American String Quartet and orchestral performance with members of The Philadelphia Orchestra and The New York Philharmonic.  He participated in the Musicorda and Quartet Program chamber festivals, toured with The Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra and upon moving to Michigan joined the Grand Rapids Symphony.  He also performs with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and as associate concertmaster of The West Michigan Symphony and is the founding member of ESME.


Joseph Conyers serves as principal bass of the Philadelphia Orchestra and on the double bass faculty of the Juilliard School and was named director of artistic development for the prestigious Boston University Tanglewood Institute in 2020.  A 2004 Sphinx Laureate, Mr. Conyers has soloed with numerous orchestras and served as an artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.  He was awarded the Sphinx Organization’s Medal of Excellence, the organization’s most prestigious recognition, the Theodore L. Kesselman Award from the New York Youth Symphony, the C. Hartman Kuhn Award, The Philadelphia Orchestra’s highest honor bestowed upon a musician of the ensemble, and Musical America’s 30 Top Professionals—Innovators, Independent Thinkers, and Entrepreneurs. He was the recipient of the Young Alumni Award from the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Harold Robinson, former principal bass of The Philadelphia Orchestra, and Edgar Meyer.  Citizen musician, entrepreneur, and youth advocate, Joseph is a multi-faceted 21st-century artist creating innovative work in music education and access.  He was featured on Jim Cotter’s program "Articulate" on PBS, and is the founder of Project 440, an organization that helps young people use their interest in music to forge new pathways for themselves and ignite change in their communities.  He is music director of Philadelphia’s All-City Orchestra, which for over 70 years has showcased the top high school musicians in the School District of Philadelphia. He is the artistic director and founder of the newly formed Dubhe, a collective of some of the most influential chamber and orchestral musicians in the world with the goal of creating performances centered on authentic community connection, inclusivity, and lasting impact. A frequent guest clinician and public speaker presenting from coast to coast, he is also a sought-after pedagogue with former students in orchestras in North America and Europe.

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British violist Mark Braithwaite served as no.3 chair in the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, guest principal with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and performs regularly with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.  Mark studied in London with Simon Rowland-Jones and in Salzburg with Thomas Riebl.  He performed in the Doric String Quartet and also worked with members of the Alban Berg Quartet, Artemis Quartet and Hagen Quartet.  Mark has performed regularly as part of Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, specializing in music of the 19th and early 20th centuries and performing at Carnegie Hall, taken up residency at Opera Comique in Paris, and given concerts at the Berlin Philharmonie, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, The Concertgebouw, and The Musikverein.  Mark has also served as guest principal baroque violist with the Academy of Ancient music, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Dunedin Consort.  Mark has performed as soloist at London’s Wigmore Hall and recorded for BBC Radio Scotland. 

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Noted for her "sensitive and imaginative" (New York Concert Review) playing, Korean-born pianist Sookkyung Cho has appeared at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Chicago Cultural Center, Sarasota Opera House, Montreal Conservatory, Chateau de Fontainebleau in France, and Zhejiang University in China, and was recently heard on Chicago's WFMT.  A founding member of the New York-based Almava trio, she has been featured at Yellow Barn, Norfolk and Sarasota music festivals, and was a Performing Associate at the Bowdoin International Music Festival.  She earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Juilliard, where she was honored with the prestigious John Erskine Graduation Prize, a Master of Music degree from Peabody, and a Doctor of Musical Arts from Juilliard.  She served on the piano and chamber music faculty at New England Conservatory Preparatory in Boston as well as the music theory faculty at the Peabody Institute of the John Hopkins University and serves as Assistant Professor of Piano at GVSU.

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Grand Rapids Ballet dancer Sarah Marley was born on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, training in the Cecchetti Method with Sonja Dickerson-Faust and Heidi Wright.  She continued her training under the direction of Peter Stark with the Orlando Ballet School and was accepted into the trainee program at age fourteen, performing in the corps de ballet alongside the professionals.  Ms. Marley was invited by the legendary Fernando Bujones to join the company in 2004 and danced with the company for the next six seasons.  That same year she became part of the Orlando Ballet School faculty, teaching various levels and adult ballet classes regularly.  Ms. Marley has also danced with the San Diego Ballet, Company C Contemporary Ballet, the San Diego Opera, Chicago Repertory Ballet, and Smuin Ballet.  Through the course of her career, Ms. Marley has performed soloist and principal roles in classical and contemporary works by Marius Petipa, George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp, Michael Smuin, Maurice Causey, Helen Pickett, Bruce Marks, Amy Seiwert, Patrick Corbin, Kenneth von Heidecke, and Garrett Ammon among others.

ECP and EPP Program Requirements


ESME Concert Program:

·  Suzuki Book 4 equivalent or higher

ESME Philharmonia Program:

·  Must be able to read sheet music

·  Suzuki Book 1 (Late) equivalent or higher

Some applicants may be asked to provide a recording of their playing along with their application and/or schedule a free orientation lesson over Zoom with ESME prior to the camp.  

What is the Daily Schedule?

​The ESME String Camp runs June 24 - June 29th, 2024 with a general daily schedule from 9:30am to 5:00pm.  The final day of camp will end slightly earlier.  All camp sessions will take place at the Aquinas College Art and Music Center, 1700 Fulton St. E. Grand Rapids, MI 49506.  Information collected during the registration process will be used to help accommodate any special schedule adjustment needs for students with conflicting schedules.

ESME String Camp Daily Schedule

·  *9:30am - 10am - warm-up - interactive playing, listening, vocal and physical warm-up exercises

·  10:00am - 11:00am - Interactive Workshop (Philharmonia Group)

·  11:00am - 12:00pm - Interactive Workshop (Concert Group)

·  12:00pm - 12:45pm - Lunch break

·  12:45pm - 3:00 pm Private lessons and chamber group coachings.  

·  3:00pm - 4:00pm - Special Class

·  4:00pm - 5:00pm - Orchestra Rehearsal


*The 30 minute morning warm-up is offered based on student's availability and their attendance are not strictly required for enrollment.

Any empty time slots in between lessons, workshops and classes will be designated as practice sessions.  

A final culmination concert will take place on the afternoon of the last day of camp (June 29th) that includes all student chamber groups, orchestras and faculty performances.

Chamber Music Coachings and Private Lessons

​Each student receives private lessons and chamber music coachings from the ESME string faculty.

Masterclasses and Faculty Performances

Special masterclasses and live performances by faculty artists will be given throughout the camp.

ESME Chamber Arrangements

​ESME chamber pop arrangements provide a unique and exciting context drawing from a wide eclectic range of styles for students at any level to form connections between fundamentals of music making and string playing while presenting a “modern day Sukuzi” approach utilizing modern musical exposure towards classical training.

Application Process, Tuition Costs and Discounts, Housing


The standard tuition fee for the ESME String Camp is $450.  

(For those who wish to stay on campus overnight during the camp, optional room and board is available at an additional fee of  $310 *(see below))

Registration deadline is June 1st 2024.

To register online click on the "Click to Sign Up for Camp!" button below.  To register by mail, send a completed pdf application (pdf download link below) along with a check in the amount of $450 made payable to "Project ESME" to:

Project ESME

P.O. Box 154, Comstock Park MI 49321

All purchased registrations are fully refundable if cancelled by May 24th, 2024.  Refunds for any cancellations made after June 1st, 2024 will be subject to approval by the ESME String Camp.

*On Campus Housing/Room and Board is Now Available for ESME String Campers!

The ESME String Camp now provides a student housing/room and board option at the Aquinas College campus for any students preferring to stay on campus during the camp week!  Students opting for room and board must select the "with housing" ticket option when filling out their registration.  

Special Financing Option

The ESME String Camp now offers a special financing payment option that allows camp tuition payments to be spread out into monthly installments.  Each registering student/parent choosing to pay via this option must select the "6 Month Installments" ticket on the registration page and purchase 6 of these tickets (priced at $75 per ticket) to complete their camp registration.  Tickets can be purchased/redeemed for the total standard tuition price of $450.

Refer-A-Friend Discount Program

​The ESME String Camp now offers a discount off your tuition every time a friend you refer to the camp signs up for the first time!  Here's how it works:

Step 1.  Referral: Invite your fellow string and piano student friend(s) to enroll in the camp.

Step 2.  Make sure your friend lists YOUR name on the "How did you hear about the camp?" section of the application form when they sign up.

Step 3.  Both you and the friend you refer will receive a $50 discount off of your tuition fee (in the form of a reimbursement after application/tuition is received).  Referral discounts are stackable; you can receive additional $50 discounts for each friend who signs up listing you as a referral.  



The ESME String Camp offers both need based and merit based scholarships that provide financial assistance for qualifying students to cover up to their full ESME String Camp tuition!  To request information and apply for a scholarship contact us at:

The ESME String Camp is presented by Project ESME, a 501c3 non-profit and supported by the Wege Foundation and Steelcase Foundation

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