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Mon, Jul 10


Aquinas College Art and Music Center

ESME String Camp 2023

The ESME String Camp is an exciting, accessible and interactive summer chamber music program designed by a diverse, world class faculty including members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Grand Rapids Ballet.

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ESME String Camp 2023
ESME String Camp 2023

Time & Location

Jul 10, 2023, 9:30 AM EDT – Jul 15, 2023, 5:00 PM EDT

Aquinas College Art and Music Center, 1700 Fulton St. E. Grand Rapids, MI 49506


Attention all string and piano students!​

We are excited to announce the return of the ESME String Camp this summer of 2023, scheduled July 10th through July 15th 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.  Special guest faculty artists include ballet dancer Sarah Marley from the Grand Rapids Ballet and acclaimed concert solo double bassist Xavier Foley, 1st prize winner of the Sphinx Competition, and performer with the Young Concert Artists Series and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

Students will receive private lessons, chamber music and orchestra coachings, masterclasses and concerts.  Our programs include interactive workshops and classes on chamber ensemble playing, composing, body awareness and physical maintenance, practice techniques, rhythmic interplay, interactive improvisation, music entrepreneurship, music theory, 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 full camp tuition for qualifying students!  To request a scholarship application contact us at:

* The 2023 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​:

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 the 2020 camp.

Practice Techniques

1.  Why do we practice? Tips on how to practice effectively and 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.

6.  Letting your brain do the work: importance of taking breaks and using sleep for learning. 

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.  Rhythmic Interplay: Interactive rhythmic exercises that explore the interplay between big beats, subdivision, syncopation, ties, dance rhythm, and rubato.2.  How to successfully navigate rhythms during ties and syncopations. Learn the secrets of playing off the beat, coming off a tie, timing of turns and grace-notes.3.  “Groove: The Prodigal Son”- How we leave and return to the beat in order to create groove.

“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. Left shoulder positioning. Use in holding and navigating an upper string instrument.

5. Use of the pelvis and lower back to support the upper body.

6. Healthy seated posture.

7. Creating a comfortable practice environment. 

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

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.


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.

Practicing and Performing Bach

1. Exploring how to play Bach.  Using Bach's music as a practice and performance tool and what we can learn from it.  Centered around the Bach cello suites.

2. Harmony as a language: reading and interpreting the music emotionally.

3. What we can learn from the baroque bow, from gut strings, and why this matters.

4. Acoustics for practising and performing Bach.

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.

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. 

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.

Double bassist Xavier Foley is a recipient of the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant. He was featured on PBS Thirteen’s NYC-ARTs and WQXR’s "19 for 19" Artists to Watch list and is known for communicating his virtuosity and passion for music on the double bass, which is rarely presented as a solo instrument.  He has performed as soloist with the Atlanta Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Nashville Symphony.  As a composer, Mr. Foley has been co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall and the Sphinx Organization for a new work entitled “For Justice and Peace” for Violin, Bass, and String Orchestra, which was performed at Carnegie Hall as part of a program designed to promote social justice.  He won First Prizes at the Young Concert Artists International Auditions, Astral National Auditions, Sphinx’s Competition, and the International Society of Bassists Competition. He made acclaimed debuts in the Young Concert Artists Series at Merkin Concert Hall and the Kennedy Center and performed on tour at Alice Tully Hall with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.  As an active chamber musician, Mr. Foley has appeared at the Marlboro Music Festival and New Asia Chamber Music Society in Philadelphia.  A native of Marietta, Georgia, Mr. Foley earned his bachelor’s degree from the Curtis Institute of Music studying with Edgar Meyer and Hal Robinson.

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.

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 or schedule a free orientation lesson over Zoom with ESME prior to the camp.​

What is the Daily Schedule?​

The ESME String Camp runs July 10-July 15th, 2023 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 (July 15th) 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

Registration fee for the ESME String Camp is $450.  

To register online click on the "Click to Register" button above.  To register by mail, send a completed pdf application 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 June 30th, 2023.  Refunds for any cancellations made after June 30th, 2023 will be subject to approval by the ESME String Camp.

Special Financing Option

The ESME String Camp now offers a special financing payment option that allows camp tuition payment 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 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!  Here's how it works:​

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

Step 2.  Make sure they list your name on the "How did you hear about the camp?" section on the application form.​

Step 3.  You will receive a $50.00 discount off of your tuition fee (in the form of a reimbursement after application/tuition is received) for each friend who signs up.​


The ESME String Camp offers a scholarship program that provides financial assistance for qualifying students to go towards their full ESME String Camp tuition!  To request information and apply for a scholarship contact us at:


  • Registration Fee

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  • 6 Month Installments ($75)

    Special financing option: This ticketing option provides a "monthly installment payments" financing option to pay the camp tuition for up to 6 months. Each registering student/parent using this option must purchase 6 of these tickets at $75 per ticket by June 19th 2023 to complete their camp registration. Tickets can be purchased/redeemed for the total tuition price of $450 at any time before June 19th, 2023.

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